C/O Hamilton Arts Council

Hamilton Arts Council celebrates diversity in local talent through BIPOC hART Music Series 

The second annual Black, Indigenous and People of Colour hArt Music Series presented by the Hamilton Arts Council took place on March 22 at Bridgeworks on a pay-what-you-can ticketing basis. Supported by the Ontario Arts Council and funded by the Royal Bank of Canada, the music series showcased diverse emerging artists from the Greater Hamilton Area and Six Nations of the Grand River.  

The concert featured Lil’ America, a Salvadoran-Canadian songwriter and singer; Luckystickz, a songwriter, steelpan aficionado and Berklee College of Music alumni; Nezqwik, a band inspired by a variety of genres and artists and Keith Silvers, a singer-songwriter.  

DeShaun Jones, a music industry consultant, Artists and Repertoire and producer, returned to curate and host the second annual BIPOC hArt Music Series. He has been in the music industry for around 20 years, working with record labels, radio stations and distribution companies in various capacities from grant writing to artist consultation.  

Throughout his work, his primary goal has always been helping emerging artists. The music series perfectly aligned with this vision and he looked forward to introducing folks the wide range of artists in their community. 

“The main focus has always been with helping independent artists with artist development or building their music packages,”

DeShaun Jones

Jones describes the BIPOC hArt Music Series as not only a platform to showcase local, up-and-coming talent, but also a place to share diverse culture within the community. This year, through sound, dance, performance and costumes, more emphasis was placed on cultural appreciation and education compared to last year.  

“[The artists will] be able to give the audience a little bit more education and entertainment in regard to the background of that artist . . . It’s really exciting to see more than just an artist coming up there and playing their instrument and singing a song,” explained Jones.  

Being able to hold the concert in-person was another significant advantage in contrast to last year’s music series, which ran from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22, and occurred virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. The physical and live artist-audience connection is much stronger and fulfilling when facilitated in a physical space. However, the live connection was a crucial factor missing in most music and concert events during the past 3 years.  

“We are now able to allow people to come in and experience the music and artists live and interact with them, which is really important for the artists in their development,” said Jones. 

For those who could not attend the music series in-person, the event was pre-recorded and will be broadcasted during Hamilton Arts Week occurring from June 9 to 17.  

The continuous support from the community and organizations is what allowed the BIPOC hArt Music Series to return for its second run. As the demand for more diverse representation continues to increase, the music series will evolve to find better ways of showcasing BIPOC talents and stories.  

For any student musicians or artists, Jones shares advice to remain determined, persistent and most importantly, true to who they are.  

“Stay true to your narrative. I always say music is the by-product of an artist’s story or even the art overall because an artist, let’s say a painter, when they paint, they are being inspired as well as being a conduit for things they have gone through in their life,” said Jones.  

Efforts are being made by community leaders and organizations, like the Hamilton Arts Council, to make opportunities for self-development and collaboration more accessible for artists and performers. The BIPOC hArt Music Series, and other opportunities and events alike, will hopefully continue driving change and increasing representation in the music industry in Hamilton and beyond. 

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