Oscar Peterson was hailed for the “sense of pleasure, and the highly effective feelings” he dropped at audiences because the world-renowned pianist’s picture was emblazoned on the again of a loonie simply final 12 months.
Peterson, who died greater than 15 years in the past thought-about one of many biggest jazz pianists of all time, blazed a path for Black Canadian musicians whereas underscoring the unifying issue of music.
His music has impressed generations and tales like Peterson’s will proceed to encourage as award-winning and record-setting rapper Duane DO Gibson brings his annual Black Canadian Historical past college tour to Aurora later this month.
A well-liked presentation, this 12 months’s tour is entitled Black Music 365, and can make a cease at Devin’s Drive Public College on January 27.
Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Southern Ontario, Gibson is specializing in contributions made by musicians like Portia White, Maestro Recent Wes, Drake, Jully Black and Peterson to spotlight Black Canadian achievements all through our historical past.
“I believe it is actually key to know the contributions of Black musicians,” says Gibson.
Gibson started his college shows greater than 20 years in the past. Initially talking about goal-setting and delivering an anti-bullying message, when February got here round, he requested colleges if he may delve deeper into Black Historical past.
“One factor I began noticing just a few years later is issues weren’t seeming to vary; after I went into a college and began asking youngsters about Black Historical past, the number-one factor they’d say is, ‘I do know who Martin Luther King is,’ or ‘I do know who Rosa Parks is…’ that is nice to know, however I noticed this was being repeated time and again.”
Gibson’s father hails from Cape Breton, a spot with a wealthy Black historical past. It was there he first discovered about Viola Desmond, a Black enterprise proprietor in Nova Scotia who challenged racial segregation when she denied a seat in a Whites-Solely part of a movie show.
“I needed to share these tales with youngsters,” he recollects. “Once I first began speaking about Viola Desmond, so many youngsters had been simply shocked that that they had by no means heard of it, and much more so what number of academics and principals had been like, ‘I’ve by no means heard this story.’ It was one thing youngsters may relate to as a result of each child can relate to going to the movie show and getting popcorn. It would not matter in the event you’re a kindergarten child, you’ll be able to relate to that.
“Once I say a Black girl was informed she could not sit in the primary space, however needed to sit within the balcony, does that make any sense? All the youngsters are instantly like, ‘No,’ however that is how they will click on and get what racism is as a result of I believe it is rather tough for youths to grasp a world, particularly within the larger Toronto space, the place we now have a lot range, what racism actually meant at that time.” Canadian tradition, he notes, depends “a lot on American media” that a few of our personal homegrown tales are overpowered.
“I grew up listening and idolizing American musicians in order we have seen a shift during the last 10 or 15 years, that with an artist like Drake who’s the most important rapper on the earth or The Weeknd, we began to form of settle for ourselves just a little bit extra. I believe when you be taught that these tales do exist you’ll be able to’t assist however wish to be taught extra. We’re a rustic that loves hockey, so after I speak concerning the Coloured Hockey League and a Black Canadian is credited with creating the slap shot, or the Coloured Hockey League was created 22 years earlier than the NHL, I believe these are essential issues for youths to listen to about, particularly after we learn within the information about issues with Hockey Canada, issues with range, and issues with racism in hockey in Canada, I believe it’s actually useful for youths to get that background that it isn’t a newish factor for a Black individual to play hockey. Blacks have been enjoying hockey in Canada for actually over 100 years.”
The robust need to be taught, he says, at all times wins the day and he is usually impressed by youngsters as younger as kindergarteners who’re engaged as effectively.
His rap title, “DO” stands for “Defying the Odds” and that helps create one other dialog that underscores the primary message, whether or not he is speaking about Black Historical past, management, or anti-bullying.
“For a scholar who may be a median White child, I need them to nonetheless be capable of determine with what it means to be on this place. I believe youngsters can perceive that by understanding what it is wish to have folks say, ‘You may’t do that,’ after I speak about Jackie Robinson desirous to play skilled sports activities and the explanation why they could not on the time was merely due to their pores and skin color, they actually needed to defy the chances. Now I need them, whatever the group they’re in… to know that you will need to be sort to 1 one other and have that background simply to be sort to others.
“I believe it’s going to be a really fascinating 12 months as a result of as everyone seems to be conversant in George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter…the fascinating factor on the time is after we had been in the course of the pandemic, I discovered that during the last two years of doing these shows just about it was nice to have the ability to join with college students. As quickly as Spring got here final 12 months and I used to be again in colleges, I simply noticed how that message carried on, that children are nonetheless conscious of racism and racial points, and I believe this era is extra of an lively era that actually needs to stomp out racism, name it out after they see it, know that it isn’t acceptable and to not let issues go.
Brock Weir, Native Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran