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The Speak Music Be Kind Festival is virtual this year – and holy line-up!

Guitar in Woods

After a spectacularly successful debut in Toronto last year, the second annual Speak Music Be Kind Festival is taking place once again this weekend, this time as a free, virtual event.

The organizers have announced a sensational lineup that also happens to be diverse and gender-balanced. Artists including Alysha Brilla, OKAN, Mimi O’Bonsawin, Desirée Dawson, JV’s Boogaloo Squad and more, will be presented in pre-recorded video performances from our festival website to our Speak Music Be Kind YouTube channel. Net proceeds and individual donations this year will go to Black Lives Matter Canada.

For more information on the festival and for updates, please visit the website | Facebook.

Among the other performers are Al Qahwa ensemble, who bring original and traditional songs from Syria, Egypt and Iraq; three-time Juno Award nominee Alysha Brilla, who blends global roots sounds with expansive lyrical themes and meditative undertones; Communism, which features party music with reactive psychedelic projections; Vancouver’s Desirée Dawson, who won the CBC Searchlight contest in 2016, and who soothes the savage beast with her healing sound; Emilyn Stam and John David Williams, whose latest album, Honeywood, merges the sounds of clarinet, violin and accordions while showcasing original compositions and traditional tunes for European folk dances (“Bal Folk”). Honeywood is nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award.

JV’s Boogaloo Squad showcases a soulful sound featuring Visentin’s massive Hammond B3 organ skills; Mama’s Broke is a powerful Montreal-based folk duo that delivers a compelling performance with heart and raw energy, using fiddle, banjo, and mandolin; award-winning roots songstress Mimi O’Bonsawin sings songs that are heavily influenced by her French Canadian and Abenaki roots and flow through a centre of love and creativity with an honest and raw intensity; Toronto favourites Pressgang Mutiny have been roaring out songs of the sea since 2013, keeping alive a vital tradition that represents the world’s first truly multi-cultural music; and the Juno-nominated women-led ensemble OKAN fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms, in songs about immigration, courage and love.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy at the virtual Speak Music Be Kind Festival. It’s the ultimate event for anyone seeking new and exciting things to do during lockdown and who want to contribute to a kind and respectful atmosphere.

Full artist line-up


Friday, Feb. 5
  • 7:00 p.m. – Emilyn Stam & John David Williams
  • 8:00 p.m. – Desirée Dawson
  • 9:00 p.m. – Communism
  • 10:00 p.m. – Press Gang Mutiny
  • 11:00 p.m. – Alysha Brilla
Saturday, Feb. 6
  • 7:00 p.m. – Al Qahwa
  • 8:00 p.m. – Mama’s Broke
  • 9:00 p.m. – JV’s Boogaloo Squad
  • 10:00 p.m. – Mimi O’Bonsawin
  • 11:00 p.m. – OKAN


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