When I sat down with Kalmunity’s Managing Director Preach Ankobia one word kept coming to mind. Passion. Passion for his city, passion for his community and passion for this thing called hip-hop. Preach is an accomplished MC and performer but he could’ve easily have been a teacher. Our conversation started with a little history lesson:
“A movement like Kalmunity could not have been born anywhere else but in “Harlem of the North.”
He continues: “This is the city of Rufus Rockhead, he owned a Jazz Club called Rockhead’s Paradise. That’s how Montreal earned its reputation for being a Jazz town.”
Rockhead’s Paradise was drawing some of the biggest names in blues and jazz to Montreal from the 1930s to the 1950s. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dizzy Gillespie, all played Rockheads Paradise. The club also produced local legends like Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones.
Rumour has it that Rufus opened the club with the income he earned as a bootlegger, running booze for Al Capone. Even though blacks were unable to get liquor licenses, Rockhead used his connections to help him get the license.
It is with that spirit driving him that in 2003 Jahsun launched Kalmunity as an outlet for black and cultural expression. Canada’s largest improv music collective boasts over 90 world-class musicians and has been producing two of the country’s longest running series of concerts. At Petit Cafe Campus on Tuesdays and and Cafe Resonance on Sunday’s. This weekly showcase has served as an incubator helping to develop local acts like Narcy and featured musicians who’ve gone on to play for the likes of Arcade Fire and Luther Vandross.
They’ve also supported through initiatives like their annual Black History Month series, or their monthly workshops for those interested in exploring improv or simply seeking mentorship. Kalmunity has established itself as a very important part of the community by continuing to lend its resources to various groups within the community.
It’s within this context and in celebration of their 15th anniversary that Kalmunity is launching its biggest initiative yet. Kalmunity Music Week (KMW) will be running from May 1, 2018 to May 6, 2018. Billed as Montreal’s 1st Week of Black Music, Arts and Culture. This event will be featuring some of the best in underground, hip-hop, reggae, jazz, soul, house, afrobeat, spoken word and more.
“Kalmunity was created with an awareness of the history of black music in this city. We wanted to create KMW while maintaining that spirit.”
It’s a great way to kick off Festival Season in a city that embraces arts, music and live performances like no other in the world. Every night will feature a different aspect of the black music experience from house, dub poetry, soul, hip-hop, and jazz. As well as reggae and Jamaican jazz. There will be an interesting mix of performers from around the world.
The whole thing kicked off today May 1 inside Petit Cafe Campus with the House Party featuring Wayne Tennant, a singer-songwriter who’s captivated music lovers around the world with his sound. Day 1 also featured the Afro Cuban sounds of Sound Traveler as well as Fabrice Koffy and Jjanice.
Day 2 will feature dub poet, scholar and storyteller, D’bi Young Anitafrika, who happens to be a key member of Kalmunity, return for an electric evening of spoken word by some of Montreal’s most poignant wordsmiths including Sar-El Bey, DNA, Blu Rva and MC June the evening is curated by Jason’ Blackbird’ Selman. Music provided by Flat Cola Presents co-host Sugarface Nene.
Day 3 will feature an eclectic night of soul featuring the incomparable Shi Wisdom, a Canadian singer/songwriter best known as the songwriter behind the single like “R.I.P.” by Rita Ora. She’ll be joined by the creole soul of Malika Tirolien who has been touring the world, most recently burning up stages in Cape Verde. Nomadic Massive’s Meryem Saci takes to the stage alongside Fredy V and DJ Andy Couchman.
On Day 4, Le 900 will be welcoming Sa-Roc featuring Sol Messiah. Sa-Roc who recently signed with Rhymesayers has been touring with The Roots, has been collaborating with Rittz, David Banner and Brother Ali. She will be joined by Joshua Clarke, Narcy, Dead Obies and many more. Capped by a Dark Maatr cypher the evening will be hosted by Kalmunity emcee and director Preach Ankobia with the music of DJ Seriousblack.
On Day 5 for the first time ever in Montreal the world renowned Dubwise featuring Raging Fyah, Iba Mahr, Horace Martin and Yaadore, three Jamaican artists known for at the forefront of the new roots reggae movement. They will be joined by Senegal’s Seydina Ndiaye, Kya Kindu, Dan Fiyah Beats, Blackcurrent, Rawnia, Kalmunity and the music of Black Temple.
On Day 6 ‘Jamaican jazz’ takes centre stage as Kalmunity wraps up an amazing week of music with a catered vegan dinner by the Resonance Cafe. Featuring a special acoustic set of hits by Iba Mahr alongside Stella Adjoke, Shem G, TSA and Nora Toutain. The whole thing will be capped off by a set of improv jazz fusion by Kalmunity Jazz Project and friends.
Written by Hugues Lamour for HipHopCanada
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