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Halifax Jazz Fest celebrates African Heritage Month

Chudi Harris, an emerging local artist, will be among those gracing stages across downtown Halifax
Chudi Harris (Photo credit: Nathaniel Cole - Instagram

The Halifax Jazz Festival is marking Halifax Heritage Month with a host of activities for February.

From workshops to music, there will be free Jazz Labs all month and music bumping for the African Heritage Month Concert Series.

Chudi Harris, an emerging local artist, will be among those gracing stages across downtown Halifax.

"I feel honoured, and these kinds of things don't come around that often for up-and-coming artists like me," he said.

"Any chance I get to take part, and I'll jump at the opportunity. I am proud to represent my heritage."

He said having a program with such an eclectic mix of artists is a huge benefit.

"We have a variety of genres and styles, and have different target demographics. This is such a wide range of events for the TD Jazz Fest programmers," he said.

"Any time I can get involved in something innovative and forward-thinking like this, I latch on. We need more of that in this city."

With a plum Valentine's Day date at the Halifax North Memorial Public Library, Harris feels some good jitters.

"It's a step outside my comfort zone for sure. Not that I don't write about love or emotions, but I try to present different angles. I also have some cover songs ready, and hopefully I can please people," he said.

"The library is a cultural hub in the centre of the north end, and it's a massive historical spot for African Nova Scotians, and for those in the province in general. It will be a special place to play."

Artist Jah'mila will be bringing her Jamaican reggae roots to Alter Egos on Feb. 24.

"I'm one of most Afrocentric people you might meet. I believe in unity as Africans, and strength in numbers," she said.

"I can't say I totally empathize with the African Nova Scotian experience, as I didn't grow up here. But I can speak as a child of the universe, having travelled all over and seeing how people connect with us."

Her mother has lived and worked as a nurse in the city for a decade, and Jah'mila will also be playing on stage with husband and guitarist Adrian Dunn.

"He's from Cape Breton, and comes from a musical family. He's accomplished quite a bit and has worked with the best. I can't wait to get up there with him and the band," she said.

"I'm so happy to be living here and to have connected with artists like Reeny Smith ... I met my husband at the location (where Alter Egos is), and I can't wait to be there."

Though she's moved all over, Jah'mila has consistently stayed connected to her music, and can't wait to bring it to the crowd.

"This is my passion, not a means to an end. It's something I need to do, regardless of whether I have an audience," she said.

"I'm excited to play, but the message is bigger than the music. I want to leave a lasting, positive impression."

She hopes, out of everything, that playing during African Heritage Month can bring Nova Scotians together.

"We need to build a community. The biggest problems come because people separate themselves from others, leading to segregation," she said. "I want people to disregard class, colour and creed and work together."

More information about the festival can be found online.


About the Author: Jordan Parker

Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist & public relations student. He's been a movie nerd since he was old enough to walk, and the first movie he saw in theatres was Beauty & the Beast.
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