Part of Black Music Month's BSIDE FESTIVAL
Afrosonic Vol. 1: Portraits of a Musician
June 18 - 20, 2015

Black musics are loved for their participatory and improvisatory natures. They demand we get involved, respond to the call of the performer. Like a soulclap, black musics are on time and on their own time, creatively engaging, improvising and making new relationships between time and the body. Portraiture, a core canonical feature of the visual arts, has been deployed in history to convey one’s stature, importance and presence.


Afrosonic Vol. 1: Portraits of a Musician allows music lovers and patrons of the arts to experience black musicians through another lens, the photographic lens. In this first edition we capture across section, a humble sampling of the immense musical talent in Toronto. This inaugural edition urges us, in a quietly urgent way, to revisit, reconsider and remember the decades of musical achievement, often obscured in our digital present. The urgency here is doubled; it is about refusing to lose sight of the struggles, the achievements and the innovations that make black musics in Toronto possible today. Secondly, as we continue to mourn the recent passing of Jazz legend Archie Alleyne, the time is now to honour and actively celebrate the beauty, the ingenuity and the brilliance we call black music. The portraits we present here offer us a glimpse at what it means to make music professionally as a Black Canadian. In each image we are invited to uncover the workings of migration, the nefarious mutations of capitalism, the interconnectedness of diasporic longings and nostalgia and the freshness of sonic innovation in analogue and digital eras. We hope, as we mix portraits of Calypsonians, with Emcees, with Soul Singers with DJs, we extend a sense of sonic livity, a renewal of life within sound, music and orality.

The energy that came from the Queen west/garment district club vibe in the mid 1990 underpins much of AfroSonic Vol. 1.  Many of the Artists in this exhibition gave the city and music scene and identity. Out of the underground club district eventually came the entertainment district and a commercialization of clubbing. Internationally, Toronto was the bedrock of acid jazz and this came out of that whole groove scene, Blaxam is great example. The portraits included here are a celebration of that era, including the disc jockeys that helped promote these gifted musicians. These musicians gave Toronto a style, an identity and a sound. AfroSonic Vol. 1 is an opportunity to celebrate and document Toronto’s musical history and Michael Chamber’s photographic presence in its development.

© 2018 Nia Centre for the Arts

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