Music: Female Artists


Aspects of African Canadian Music
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African Canadian Female Artists


Gospel Artists

Jackie Richardson

Jackie Richardson was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Toronto with her family, while still at a young age. She grew up in Richmond Hill which she still considers her hometown. Jackie has often been featured as a guest soloist with gospel choirs but does not consider herself a gospel singer.

Her successful musical career started at the age of sixteen when she joined a local vocal quartet called "The Tiaras" . She later performed at the Canadian Forces bases across Canada, the South Pacific and the Far East.

Jackie Richardson has also had a very successful acting career with parts in "No! No! Nanette Anything Goes"; "Hello Dolly!"; and "Raisin in the Sun". Jackie became most famous for her part in "Ain't Misbehaving" , which earned her a Dora Award in 1984. She has also performed at Royal Thompson Hall's family Christmas concerts and has entertained with Joe Sealy, Kingsley Etienne, Jeff Jones and others at Yorkville's Belair Café. In September of 1992, she helped to promote the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, a worthwhile cause that benefits African Canadians in the field of higher education, history, culture and research.

Discography: Heading in the right direction and Jubilation II (the Montreal Jubilation Choir 1986)


Jazz Artists

Jeri Brown

Jeri Brown was born in Missouri. She began singing publicly at the age of six and later received a four-year scholarship to go to Iowa and study classical voice under the direction of Frank Summerside. She had many student performances in the United States and Europe which caught the attention of musical directors and composers, who liked her creative style. She has composed and recorded lyrics in collaboration with composers such as Henry Butler, Kenny Wheeler, Cyrus Chestnut, and Greg Carter.

Jeri's more recent performances were at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal Spectrum and the Orleans Jazz Festival. She has appeared frequently on stages in Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom which has made her a recognizable figure in Europe.

Jeri won the prestigious CHOC De l'Anné 1995" Award for her jazz recordings with Jimmy Rowles. In Canada, she was nominated for an ECMA and Juno Award for the same recording. Jeri's most recent release, "April In Paris", has won her more fame including a 1997 NAIRD Vocal Artist award nomination.

Jeri is a gifted vocalist with an amazing voice and incredible range. Her career as an award-winning singer is remarkable and has led to her being compared to jazz legends such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Discography: April In Paris; Fresh Start; A Timeless Place - with Jimmy Rowles; Unfolding the Peacocks; and Mirage with Fred Hersh.

Gloria Blizzard

Gloria Blizzard was born in London, Ontario. However at the age of four she moved with her family to Trinidad. She spent most of her childhood listening to her parents' varied collection of classics, bossa nova and jazz music. In her early teens, her family relocated to Canada, and settled in Goose Bay, Labrador.

Gloria started studying classical guitar at the age of ten years old and continued with it until her late teens. When she entered university she began writing poetry and got her poems published in respected Canadian magazines.

In 1988, she returned to the guitar and began composing and singing her own songs. Her debut album, "Strange Hearts" is delectable and acclaimed by the music critics. It is embraceable pop with a smattering of jazzy, R&B, urbane folk, and global flavours, according to Now Magazine.

Discography: Strange Hearts

Taborah Johnson

Tabby, as she was oncecalled, was born in Zurich in the mid-1950's. Her early years were spent in Philadelphia and later in Ontario, where her family settled.

Nick Sheehan of the Now Magazine writes that Taborah's musical talent was discovered at age sixteen, when she was encouraged to accompany a friend to a rehearsal for the Toronto Production, "Hair". Her friend did not get the part instead she was offered the part. The Hair production brought Taborah into the media limelight because of the political nature of her character, who called attention to some sensitive issue such as why there were no blacks or Asians in the Eaton's ads.

Taborah spent a few years with Rick James and the Stone City band, and recalls fond memories of playing with James on five albums and during the tours of 1979-82, when some of their music topped the charts. Taborah left the band in 1982 and decided to re-introduce herself to the Toronto scene, with the support of her sister Molly Johnson. In addition to her vocal talents, Taborah also has acting abilities which she has displayed through guest appearances on TV shows such as "Cagney and Lacey" and "For Coloured Girls".

Discography: Come and Get it (Rick James -City Stone band); Super freak ; and Give it to me Baby.

Ranee Lee

Ranee Lee was born in Brooklyn, New York. She started her professional career as a dancer then she moved on to playing drums and tenor saxophone with various musical groups touring the United States and Canada. Ranee settled in Montreal, Quebec, over twenty years ago and focused on her singing. Now she has become one of Canada's most recognizable jazz singers.

Ranee has starred in a musical portrayal of Billie Holiday called Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, a performance for which she received a Dora Mavor Award. Her second album release called "Deep Song" caught the attention of international jazz producers and fans and led to her going on tour with the Western Canadian Jazz Festival tour and the South African Festival.

In January of 1994, Ranee received the International Association of Jazz Educators Award for her contributions to jazz education. In addition, she was also presented with the Top Canadian Female Jazz Vocalist Award by Jazz Report magazine in 1994 and 1995. Ranee's fourth album "I Thought About You" was nominated for a Juno Award in 1995 for Best Mainstream Jazz recording. She has recently released her sixth album "Seasons of Love" featuring John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and David Murray. Ranee's great musical career has been achieved through hard work and dedication. She puts her heart and soul into her music and anyone who listens to her album will sense her deep love for jazz.

Discography: Seasons of Love ; You Must Believe in Swing ; I Thought About You ; The Musicals - Jazz On Broadway ; Deep Song featuring Oliver Jones and Milt Hinton; Live at Le Bijou .

Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker was born in Canada; however she now resides in New York. She attended Brown University where shemajored in Organizational Management and African Studies, then worked as a legal assistant before deciding to pursue a singing career. Melissa is very well-known to devoted jazz fans and has been compared to Cleo Laine and Nancy Wilson. Many jazz critics have described her voice as warm and sensuous.

Melissa has performed at venues such as New York's Birdland, Visiones, and Iridium. In addition, Melissa has performed at festivals in Chile, Canada, and Hungary. For booking, you can contact Leslie Naaman by e-mail at

Discography: May I Feel


Hip Hop Artist

Michie Mee

Michie Mee is a well-known female Canadian hip-hop/ reggae artist. She performed locally in Toronto before being signed to a five-year contract with an independent U.S. rap label, FirstPriority. Under this record label, Michie released her album called 'Jamaican Funk - Canadian Style" in 1988. In an interview, Michie said that until very recently, it has been very difficult for singers, and especially black singers, to sign with a record label in Toronto. She refers to Deborah Cox as an example of a talented performer who had to go to the U.S. to get signed.

Michie is a very active member of the Toronto Black community. On June 8, 1997, she hosted Phem Phat's Honey Jam at Lee's Palace, 529 Bloor St. West, of which the proceeds were donated to women living with AIDS.

Discography: Jamaican Funk - Canadian Style


R & B Artist

Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox was born in Toronto, Canada and began to show signs of her singing talents at an early age. From a Guyanese heritage, her mother and father sang so much that music played an important role in her life as a child. Her actual musical career took off when she was in her teens and she sang with a blues band at Toronto's Club Bluenote. She also recalls performing on Tiny Talent Time in Hamilton at twelve or thirteen years old and thinking her future career would be in the entertainment field. Lascelles Stephens, a local producer with whom she has co-written some of her songs, helped her produce her first demo tape. The demo was sent to Clive Davis, President of Arista Records, who signed the unknown artist immediately. Deborah now lives in Los Angeles, California.

Cox's most recognizable songs include: Sentimental , Who do U love , Where do we go from here and I'm your natural woman .



Nick Sheehan. Now Magazine. July 26 - August 8, 1984, page 9.
Val Clery. The Toronto Star. Wednesday, May 23, 1990, C5.

Materials prepared by Marsha Dubidat and Bellinia Agyemfra.