Canada's newest Black music festival, Afrowaveto launches this weekend, promising an inclusive music experience. We sat down with Lexxicon, a Jamaican-Canadian artist and the founder and executive director of the Afrowaveto music organization.
“Music allows people to feel things that they can't feel otherwise. It's something that I think draws humans everywhere. It's like a physical or almost something tangible that you can equate to feelings because as you know, you can't really see feelings, but you can feel it. You can see it and you can hear it through music,” Lexxicon explains what music means to him.
Lexxicon started a career in music in 2017 and while performing in Toronto, he says he didn't really see many spaces for Black music genres like Afrobeats and Dancehall.
From Lexxicon’s point of view, the reason for not having enough recognition for those sounds has everything to do with the structure of Canada's music industry.
He says that there is a need for more funding towards Black-music-focused organizations and for the artists. There is also a need for better recognition for the artists, whether through award shows, supporting independent artists, and continuing to push them, not just nationally but also internationally. “So it really comes down to putting the funding in the right places.”
Lexxicon admits that the platform is slowly growing and there are different people behind the scenes trying to build that.
“We are continuing to grow the platform so that we can help artists reach a bigger and wider audience and to connect with people and so that they can see that there's more than just rap, hip hop, and rock in Canada.”
The ack of seeing those spaces that led Lexxicon to establish Afrowaveto.
Afrowaveto was established in 2019 with the slogan ‘Dream It. Build It. Grow It.’ which refers to the organization’s mission and goal.
Afrowaveto is focusing more on performances, creating more inclusive performance spaces and getting those artists to gain wider recognition. It is a space where those artists come together, meet each other, perform, have a good time, network, and build some community. By doing so, it tries to promote and give more space to those sounds.
Afrowaveto has been holding a monthly workshop series, where different industry professionals come and talk to an audience of 50 to 60 people. The majority of the participants were Black artists - musicians, singers, and songwriters in the music industry. The professionals give the audience tips on music marketing, grant writing, and artist management. Once COVID-19 hit, it switched to having online workshops for eight weeks.
Afrowaveto has also done 12 individual performances/virtual performances thus far.
Now, for the first time, with funding help from the Government of Canada and The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), Lexxicon has turned Afrowaveto into a festival and is very excited for everyone to see what the organization has been working on. The Black music festival features all the different varieties of Black music, streaming live on Saturday, April 24th at 7 pm on YouTube.
It will feature 19 Black artists including Exco Levi, Kirk Diamond, Leila Dey, Desiire, Shope, Alliston Davis, and Kris Hans just to name a few. A lot of them are solo acts and there are two dance groups as well.
“Our goal is to push the artist, persuade the audience to come and see these artists in action because we have so much talent and they're all extremely amazing. Despite their talent, they lack exposure and our job is to maximize it.”
Going forward, Afrowaveto is hoping to organize a festival at least every year. It will have workshop series on different issues for artists and smaller live virtual individual performances to showcase more artists in the city for the coming Fall.
“Tell your friends, tell everyone to tune in this Saturday evening on YouTube, starting at 7pm EST. It's going to be a very dynamic, virtually appealing, and amazing show. And keep up to date to see what we do next,” says Lexxicon.