It’s starting to feel a little more tropical in Toronto, and that can only mean one thing: time for the TD IRIE Music Festival. This city-wide free music festival celebrates African-Canadian culture with music, dance, spoken word, literature, art, food and drink from the Caribbean and across the African Diaspora, with this year’s headliners including the likes of Alison Hinds, the undisputed “Queen of SOCA”; Richie Spice, “the Gideon of contemporary reggae”; Etana, one of Reggae music’s best new female stars; Grammy winner Richie Stephens; and David Rudder, widely regarded as calypso’s monarch. The Irie weekend at Nathan Philips Square concludes with a traditional island style “blocko”, a block party featuring some of Toronto’s best DJs spinning a mix of Reggae, Calypso and Soca.   The TD IRIE Music Fest Toronto celebrates its 12th year in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square from August 1 to 4, 2014. Now in its 3rd year, IRIE Fest at Mississauga’s Celebration Square will be held from August 23 to 24, 2014 rather than mid-July.

Showcasing some of today’s top reggae music acts, the festival offers several on-site attractions and cultural activities designed to showcase everything from Reggae to Latin, Soul to African; dance, spoken word, visual arts, delicious tropical food and drinks and more.

In addition to the musical presentation, TD IRIE Fest is delighted to present the 12th annual dance Immersion Summer Showcase. A special one hour showcase slated for the Nathan Philips Square festival stage on Sunday, August 3rd at 4pm, dance Immersion will feature variety of African Canadian dance ensembles including:

  • Beyond Sound Empijaha collective of young, professionally trained drum and dance performers from organizations from across the GTA, such as Ballet Creole, Collective of Black Artists (COBA) and the Ngoma Drum and Dance Ensemble

  • Esie Mensah has danced for industry icons such as Divine Brown who opened for the Backstreet Boys, Deborah Cox, Anjulie, Flo Rida at the MuchMusic Video Awards, and many more,

  • Caribbean Dance Theatre (CDT) is an 10 year old, all female dance group, specializing in an array of African Caribbean based dance styles

  • Manding Foli Kan Don is a Toronto-based group that performs music from the Manding area. The name Manding Foli Kan Don means to play, sing and dance the music of the Manding people

  • Tsingory Dance and Music of Madagascar a lively company based in Toronto and Montreal who perform Malagasy dance with live accompaniment, using traditional instruments such as Marovany, Kabosy, Valiha, Sodina, Langoraona, and Amponga be

Celebrating its 12th anniversary in 2014, the TD IRIE Music Festival is a FREE multi-day, family, friendly festival that takes place over two great weekends of the summer: FridayMonday, August 1–4, 2014 (Toronto) and FridayMonday, August 23–24, 2014 (Mississauga).

Established media interested in covering the TD IRIE Music Festival must apply for accreditation through Victoria Lord at VLPR Inc. Please add this information to your listings. Images are available upon request or by going to: www.iriemusicfestival.com

For more information visit: iriemusicfestival.com or call: 905-799-1630.

HEADLINERS

ALISON HINDS, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Crowned the undisputed “Queen of SOCA” by fans worldwide, Alison Hinds’ powerful, emotional vocals and high-energy live shows are legendary in Caribbean music. Alison’s musical journey has taken her throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and the Caribbean.. Alison’s first solo album SOCA QUEEN featured “Roll It Gal”, an international hit released in North America, Europe and the Far East taking Alison’s music to new shores and making new fans all over the world. She has won numerous awards and rave reviews everywhere she goes, including International Reggae & World Music Award’s Best Female Vocalist Best Calypso/Soca Entertainers well as Barbados Music Award’s Female Entertainer of the Year.

RICHIE SPICE, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Richie Spice hails from a musical family that includes brothers Pliers (Chaka Demus), singer Spanner Banner and deejay Snatcher Dogg. It was Spanner Banner who first brought Spice to the recording studio and before long, he met veteran producer Clive Hunt who produced his breakthrough single “Grooving My Girl”—still one of the most popular songs within Spice’s repertoire. “In 2004 he rereleased “Earth A Run Red”, which went on to become one of the biggest reggae hits of 2004. The New York Times named Spice’s sophomore release “Spice in Your Life” as one of that year’s best reggae albums. Since then Spice has gone on to reap numerous awards including Jamaica’s IRIE FM Awards’ Male Singer/Singjay of the Year and a special honor for his positive musical contribution at the first annual “Black My Story” concert. Three of his albums—In the Streets To Africa (2007), Gideon Boot (2008), and Book of Job (2011) —have all reached Billboard’s Top Reggae Album chart in the years of their release at No. 1, No. 1, and No. 4, respectively.

ETANA, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Songstress Etana “The Strong One” represents one of Reggae music’s newest faces. Boasting a flawless soul-soaked voice, Etana has captivated and inspired legions of die-hard fans. Etana’s craft of developing Reggae music masterpieces spans beyond just a means of entertainment, addressing pressing issues in her music. Although Etana’s music is often billed as “Roots Reggae,” her style undeniably transcends music genre and is also infused with hints of Jazz and R&B. Her career started in 2005 when she landed a stint as a backup singer for Richie Spice “and by 2006 she had launched her solo career with dancehall single “Wrong Address” which peaked at 1 on a number of Reggae music charts. By 2009, Etana had won “Album of the Year” award at the International Reggae and World Music Awards and at the Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards (EMA), among numerous other accolades. Since then she has performing throughout the world, including the Johannesburg 2009 Arts Alive Festival. Other milestones include unforgettable sets at several high profile music festivals like Reggae Sumfest, Irie Jamboree and the Soul Beach Music Festival in Aruba.


ERROL BLACKWOOD, Monday,
Aug. 4, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Born in the Accompong Hills of Jamaica, Errol Blackwood’s love for music comes from a variety of sources, from the church of his father who was a pastor to the Nyah Bingi Drummers of the hills to country to Rhythm n Blues and even Deep Purple, Sly and Family Stone, James Brown and Led Zeppelin. After playing everything from R&B, Rock and Funk with several bands in Ontario, Errol started to grow his dreadlocks and writing songs. In 1980 he met Rupert Harvey and formed the band Messenjah, which recorded two albums, toured extensively for six years, shared the stage with Jazz legend Hugh Masekela, The Clash, and Frank Zappa, and played at Reggae Sun Splash. Errol began his solo career with the release of his four-song EP Chant Chant and his 1990 album Warrior. His accolades include 11 awards, including Canadian Reggae Music Awards’ Best CD of the year, Canadian Music Video Awards’ Best Video, and Toronto Music Awards’ Best Reggae Artist/Performer. He has been nominated for Canadian Indie Music Awards and several Juno Awards.


RICHIE STEPHENS, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, Celebration Square-Mississauga

After working under Motown Records and spending time as a singer for the Grammy winning group Soul II Soul in the early ’90s, Richie Stephens turned his career toward reggae, ska, and contemporary gospel. He released several dancehallsinglessuch as “Winner”, “Bus the Place” and “Slop Dem, produced recordson the VPlabel,and established his own label, Pot of Gold Records. In 2006, Stephens was rewarded the Jamaican Governor-General’s Achievement Award for contributing to civic, social and recreational projects in and around the parish of Westmoreland.


DAVID RUDDER, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, Celebration Square-Mississauga

David Rudder’s unprecedented rise to fame in 1986 has made him the subject of music critics around the world. From New York to London to Tokyo, Rudder has been described as modern calypso’s most innovative songwriter. Born in Belmont, Trinidad, Rudder began singing at the age of 11 with a group called The Solutions. In 1977, he became the lead singer for the brass band Charlie’s Roots. Over the years, Rudder has proved his versatility, blending a variety of musical voices: pop, jazz, blues, and calypso. He has won numerous awards and contributed to soundtracks of major motion pictures. In 1996, he was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

DANCE IMMERSION SUMMER SHOWCASE

BEYOND SOUND EMPIJAH, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Beyond Sound Empijah Beyond Sound Empijah is a unique mix of classical and modern drum and dance genres has captured the imaginations and minds of artists and non-artists alike. Beyond Sound Empijah is a collective of young, professionally trained drum and dance performers from organizations from across the GTA, such as Ballet Creole, Collective of Black Artists (COBA) and the Ngoma Drum and Dance Ensemble. Performers range in age from 10 to 26, and bring a combined 25+ years of experience in the traditional African diaspora, the art of djembe, doudou playing and contemporary dance. As a collective of young artists, Beyond Sound Empijah’s mission is to engage youth in educating other youth through drum and music. Beyond Sound Empijah is proud to recognize the sponsorship and support of African Drums and Art Crafts and Afiwi International.

https://www.facebook.com/BeyondSoundEmpijah

ESIE MENSAH, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Esie Mensah is a professional dancer and choreographer to the Canadian industry. After 4 years she has built an extensive resume that includes an appearance in the Walt Disney film “Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam”. Esie has danced for industry icons such as Divine Brown who opened for the Backstreet Boys, Deborah Cox, Anjulie, Flo Rida at the MuchMusic Video Awards, and many more. Appeared in videos by Jully Black, Keisha Chante, Shamar Forte, Cascada, Lauren Pritchard, Carl Henry, Addictiv, Dru, and Grammy Award winner Nelly Furtado. http://esiemensah.tumblr.com/

CARIBBEAN DANCE THEATRE, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Caribbean Dance Theatre (CDT) is an 10 year old, all female dance group, specializing in an array of African Caribbean based dance styles. The French Caribbean term “Toute Baghai” would be the appropriate phrase to describe what this group has to offer… a little bit of everything. Tamla Matthews is the Artistic Director and the Head choreographer of the company which exists to celebrate the Caribbean contribution to the Canadian cultural mosaic.

Committed to artistic integrity and professionalism, the company exists to promote and explore different forms of Black Dance and challenge limiting stereotypes of Caribbean dance. CDT is a cultural ambassador that celebrates Canadian culture with a Caribbean Flair! www.tamlamatthews.com

MANDING FOLI KAN DON, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Manding Foli Kan Don is a Toronto-based group that performs music from the Manding area. The name Manding Foli Kan Don means to play, sing and dance the music of the Manding people. The group’s Artistic Director is Mohamed Diaby, who brings more than 23 years experience in multi-disciplines of Guinea’s musical instruments, dance styles, and traditions. Mohamed’s experience comes to him through his years of working with different ensembles from Guinea, such as: Africa Djole, Les Merveilles de Guinea, just to name a few.

www.fabeproductions.com

TSINGORY DANCE of MADAGASCAR, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, Nathan Phillips Square-Toronto

Tsingory Dance and Music of Madagascar is a lively company based in Toronto and Montreal, Canada. We perform Malagasy dance with live accompaniment, using traditional instruments such as Marovany, Kabosy, Valiha, Sodina, Langoraona, and Amponga be. All of our costumes and headpieces are professionally custom made. Some include handmade embroidered elements from Madagascar. The dances are choreographed by Lanto and Jenni Morse. The dancers are all professional dancers who maintain their training, in ballet and modern, outside of the company. The company has been performing and teaching workshops for audiences of all ages. We offer workshops in English, French, and Malagasy.

http://tsingorydance.weebly.com/

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MEDIA INFORMATION
Victoria Lord, VLPR INC., T: 416-484-9047, E: Victoria@vlpr.com

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