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Participating Musicians

The following is a list of musicians who contributed to the Halton Freedom Celebration Festival: (in alphabetical order)

Musicians participating in the current year event have an asterisk behind their name.

Click Here to download the pdf of the 2024 festival poster.

Blackburn (2016, 2017, 2018, 2021-Virtual Video, 2022, 2023)

“Blackburn” - The best blues band in Canada - Rolling Stone magazine (2015); Recipient of the Maple Blues Award, 2016 Juno Nominees Four Brothers (Robert, Brooke, Duane and Cory) and close friends Howard and Mark Ayee are renowned in the Toronto area performing at such venues as the old BAMBOO, Canadian Blues Festival, and currently at Jo Mama’, Nawlin’s and other Toronto venues; Promoters of family, roots and culture – “Messages of Positivity”.


Errol Skipah Blackwood (2016, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2023)

Errol Skipah Blackwood - Reggae - 7 piece - Reggae with Horns - Errol has won 11 Canadian music/video awards including several CRMA and Much Music Video Awards; nominated in 15 awards including 2 Juno nominations. He and his members have played for Messanjah, Injah Band, Nasio Fontaine and Gregory Isaacs bands


Michael Dunston and Soul Stew (2016, 2017, 2018, 2021-Virtual Video, 2022, 2023, 2024)

Michael Dunston & Soul Stew - Headliner - R&B - 7 piece - Michael sings with Crack of Dawn, The Lincolns, played Bo Diddley in the film Mr. Rock & Roll: The Allen Freed Story; has a Donny Hathaway, review with Dave Young (bass of Oscar Pedersen fame); Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandros reviews; was nominated for "Male Vocalist of the Year" at the Wave Awards (2011), collaborated with Andrew Scott in winning the "Urban Music Award". Soul Stew is the original bar band of the Bamboo Club and just celebrated both 40th Anniversaries. They have collectively and individually performed and recorded with The Boss Brass, Bruce Cockburn, Paul Butterfield, Tito Puente, The Parachute Club, Holly Cole, Marc Jordan, Gino Vanelli, Aretha Franklin, and Nelly Furtado to name a few. Blues, Jazz, R&B, & Funk - Full out Dance music. Click here of Michael Dunston at the 2021 Virtual HBHAS Festival.


Garnetta & Dagroovmasters (2022, 2024)

Garnetta & Dagroovmasters is a high energy show band that plays and sing the genres of Blues, Classic Soul & Funk, but they are also a reflection of Canada's multicultural society! Their style of upbeat music brings pure joy to all listeners and continues to spread their contagious & cheerful sounds throughout their live performances! Garnetta was lead vocalist and drummer for a Toronto’s only female reggae band Sweet Sensation, performing on the same stage with Platinum/Grammy Award artists like Maxi Priest, Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Gregory Issacs and Sean Kingston, Platinum/Grammy award Soul legends, Percy Sledge, Dorothy Moore and The Manhattans.


Mike “DJ GIBS” Gibson (2019-DJ, 2023-DJ, 2024-DJ)

Mike “DJ GIBS” Gibson (formerly Attitude Sound Crew) started playing clubs in Hamilton back in 1990. Specializing in HipHop, R&B, Dancehall and Reggae he was a finalist in several DJ competitions, including the Canadian DMC mix-off (the winner of which went on to win the World DMCs). In the early ‘90s he DJ’d with Sniper Sound and Red Flames (Spider & Lindo P) and along-side major Jamaican artists like Sanchez and Stone Love. Around 1993 Mike teamed up with Jason Chambers to form the Attitude Sound Crew. DJ Gibs had his own Reggae show, The Roots, on 93.3 and they both played together weekly on 93.3 and 107.9 Energy Radio, doing mix-shows and live-to-air broadcasts, as well as concerts with artists like Run-DMC, Fat Man Scoop, Rampage, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black. They were the first official DJ’s of the Toronto Raptors and their mixtapes were some of the most popular throughout Canada and parts of the USA. The success of their mixtapes and countless local club gigs had them travelling to perform in cities like Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Mike was also a judge for Best Reggae Recording and Best Reggae Album at the 2001 Juno Awards and produced songs for R&B/Jazz artist Alana Bridgewater. While he’s not as busy in the clubs these days, DJ Gibs continues to play corporate and specialty events as he continues to share his love of music.

Rob Green (????)

Rob Green is a former vice-chair with the Halton Black History Awareness Society and actor, singer/songwriter and producer of his own original music. Rob Green's first CD..."Soul Dancing" was nominated for best Indie Album in 2013 and was Highlighted In CBC's talent search out performing numerous other contestants. Rob presents his family’s journey from Africa to Canada with accompanying music representative of the time and circumstance. Rob is a graduate of University of Guelph with a Specialized Honours in Drama, The University of Toronto (Faculty of Education) Honours Specialist in Drama and The University of London (Althouse Teachers College) with a Bachelor of Education. He initiated the Drama program at his high school and became the Assistant Head of the English department. teaching Drama and English in Canadian schools. Rob has won the Excellence in Education Award and in the past been nominated for the Reverend John C. Holland Award and participated in presentations for the Ontario Black History Society, The Speakers Corner for Emancipation Celebration, the HBHAS’ “Telling Our Stories” program and to civic groups dedicated to the advancement of Black Canadians.


Shelley Hamilton (2024-MC)

Shelley Hamilton - History Orator and MC, featured vocalist on the 2003 Juno Award-winning album "Allegro", winner of the African Nova Scotian Music Association’s "Artist of the Year" award for her CD "Connected", the 2021 EMCA Nominee, ANSMA winner and 2020 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee. Shelley Hamilton has worked internationally from Dubai to Japan, sung on award winning albums, and done everything from a cappella with stand up comedy, to singing the Rolling Stones classic "Gimme Shelter" beside the legend her self – Mary Clayton. 2021 East Coast Music Award Nominee

Most recently SHE has been awarded 2019 artist of the year – Africa Nova Scotian Music Association awards, was a featured artist of the week in February for CBC for the recent country DRAKE remix "Hold On We’re Going Home." With nominations reaffirming her new path


Joharah & BellyUp BellyDance Studio (2016)

Joharah & BellyUp BellyDance Studio - Promoted as the best belly dance studio in North America 10 years running. We are please to have Dewitt Lee present at our Emancipation Flag Raising Ceremony including a Mini Parade comprising of athletes, mayor(s) and the public, and Fundraising from the Memories of the Soldiers of Suicide organization - a give back promotion.


Jordan John (2018)

Jordan John is a multi-talented musician adept a playing drums, keyboards, lead guitar, bass and vocals which resemble Aaron Neville. This group opened for Aretha Franklin at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, at her request. Jordan has also been signed by David Foster, Chairman of Verve Records, at 26 years old, to do 5 CDs and has jammed with Prince (drums) when he was 16 - I've compared his drumming to Buddy Rich. He has played with other great musicians including Johnny Reid, Colin James, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings, Wide Mouth Mason, Ronnie Spector, Deborah Cox, Divine Brown. Jordan John has been endorsed by David Foster, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, John Mayall, Steve Jordan, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, and George Clinton, to name a few.


His father, Prakash John – Bass, plays with him and is a 3x recipient to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame being acknowledged as the "Legendary bassist for George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, James Brown, The Blues Brothers, Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Junior Wells, Mike Bloomfield, Gene McLelland, Rory Block. Prakash has also played with Bush, Mandala, George Clinton, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper leads what many have stated, the best R&B band in Canada - the Lincolns who played for Wayne Gretzky's wedding

Carlene Ling & BACCAU (2022)

Carlene Ling, (aka Vanda Li) Founding Director, Bling Entertainment & “Black African Caribbean Canadian Artists Unite” (BACCAU). Carlene Ling began her artistic career in performing arts at a young age as a singer, dancer and model presenting in TV, and stage including playing piano, dance, vocal/musical theatre training and several Canada wide local and International performances - Ling is the niece of the late Kenneth Ling founder of Hamilton Ontario’s annual Mardi Gras Parade aka "Hamilton Caribana" which ran from the late 90's until his passing from cancer in 2007. Carlene is also the niece of Juliet (Brereton) Hamilton founder of the Burlington Multicultural Festival which ran for many years. Carlene is the second cousin to Canadian calypso singer Sheila Brereton-Robinson also known as "Lady Pearl " and has performed at live shows with her in the past. Carlene gives you a unique "BLing" effect with a balance of Canadian pop culture and related multicultural entertainment experiences that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.


LMT Connection (2023, 2024)

Veteran soul group LMT Connection has been turning music fans into full-blown funkateers for more than 33 years, playing over 6500 shows. True masters of their craft, they’ve toured internationally and released seven self-produced albums independently. Singer/guitarist Leroy Emmanuel was not only an active member of Motown’s thriving music community at its height, supporting the likes of Marvin Gaye, Bohannon, and Bettye Lavette, but an influential artist in his own right, earning a significant cult following with his group The Fabulous Counts (Westbound Records). In 1989 Emmanuel founded LMT Connection with drummer Mark Rogers and bassist John Irvine. They have shared the stage with Al Green, Tower of Power, jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco, and blues legend BB King on his 80th birthday tour. For LMT Connection, funk is truly the final frontier; the expedition progresses unabated, and the borders continue to be explored and re-drawn.


Luckystickz (2016, 2017, 2018-MC, 2021-Video Director Virtual Video, 2022-MC, 2023-MC, 2024-MC)

Luckystickz led by our own Dejehan Hamilton who is one of the premier Steelpan/percussionists in Canada having performed with Harry Belafonte, Brian Mcknight and Chili of TLC. Dejehan is the first steel pan percussionist Berkeley graduate. Music has given Luckystickz the opportunity to perform internationally to Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the United States, and throughout Canada. Luckystickz released his single "Love You (From A Distance) in 2015 which will be featured on his frothing coming E.P. Every Day Battle.


Neema Project (2016, 2017, 2018, 2021-Virtual Video, 2022, 2023)

Neema Children’s Choir - The 16 members from Uganda, (ages 7-16) radiate such infectious smiles and contagious enthusiasm, you might not realize the incomprehensive hardships that they’ve experienced. The choir represents children in Uganda and the rest of Africa who have been orphaned due to the effects of civil war, AIDS and under-developed social systems – raise their voices in songs of love, gratitude and praise, testifying to the hope that brought them through unimaginable challenges.


Lou Pomanti & Oakland Stroke (2023, 2024)

Lou Pomanti & Oakland Stroke, “a smokin' 10 piece band, including a 5 man horn section, THE HOGTOWN HORNS!” Lou Pomanti is one of Canada’s most accomplished composers, musicians, and musical directors. Lou’s original music and performances are featured on soundtracks and recordings heard all over the world. Gemini award winner, MD for the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (6 times), The Gemini Awards (7 times), the Genie Awards ( 5 times ) and the Junos. Featured with David Clayton-Thomas and Blood, Sweat and Tears and toured the world; Michael Bublé, Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Leonard Cohen, Kim Mitchell and Triumph. 1983 saw the beginning of Lou’s session career as the #1 top call pianist/synthesist in Toronto. In 2012, the City of Toronto named a street after Lou to honour his accomplishments.

Websites: &

Rayzalution (2024)

Rayzalution is Canada's All-Female reggae band. They are ascending the reggae scene with intensity and style since their formation in 2017. The band has shared the stage with international reggae acts such as: Maxi Priest, Freddie McGregor, Baby Cham, Shanchez, Romain Virgo, Dexta Daps, Mikey Spice, Beenie-Man, I-Wayne, Razor B, Marcia Griffiths, Lady G, Sister Nancy and the Mighty Diamonds to name a few reggae greats. Rayzalution also shared the stage with R&B greats such as: Ruben Studdard, Freddie Jackson, Brian McKnight, Ginuwine, Joe, Fantasia, and Jeffrey Osbourne. “With powerful vocals they combine heavenly harmonies with exceptional musicianship and dynamic performances, the band promotes positivity and spreads a conscious message entertaining the audiences. Rayzalution was honoured to tour the U.S. East Coast with the Queen of Reggae, Marcia Griffiths, (from Bob Marley's IThrees) and veteran dancehall artist, Lady G, as their backing band and opening act. In 2022, the ladies of Rayzalution opened for the legendary Sister Nancy, and most recently, The Original Wailers. "Our vibrant, engaging, disciplined, diverse and versatile mindset is the driving force for our core values: Refreshing, Radiant, Relatable, Reputable, Resilient, Relevant, Ready & Real". Rayzalution's live performances promises not just harmonic music for your ears, but also an influential experience you’ll never forget.


Amanda Reeves & Street Talk (2016, 2017)

Amanda Reeve & Street Talk - an accomplished versatile vocalist and musician playing saxophone and flute and once performed with the legendary Percy Sledge, leads her band “Street Talk through exquisite renditions of Jazz, Pop, Reggae, Soca, Salsa, Classic & Modern Rock, Funk & R&B. Street Talk Is made up of Amanda Reeve on lead and back up vocals, sax and flute, Phillip Crichton on drums and vocals, Bruce Skerritt on keyboard and back up vocals and John Yelland on Bass guitar. Together, they have been playing restaurants, bars, weddings, and other private functions in and around the greater Toronto area for many years. They have played regularly at Snug Harbour in Port Credit for over ten years, and they were the featured entertainment act for the Canada Day celebrations at Queens Park for two consecutive years.


Eugene Smith (2016, 2017)

 "Eugene has written more than 200 songs and listening to a concert of his is like hearing a cross section of Canadian music history." - Victoria Slager - More of Our Canada - May 2017.

Eugene's career began at the early age of 14. Over the past 4 decades he has shared the stage with B.B. King, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia Tyson, David Clayton Thomas, King Curtis, Willie Dickson, Lenny Breau, and K.D. Lang.


He was the lead singer in Lucifer, signed to the legendary Invictus label and later became a fixture on the Toronto Music scene with "The Warm Up Band”. Eugene toured the North America with Ronnie Hawkins and has recorded several sessions for CBC Radio and television. He has performed at countless Folk and Blues Festivals and played the Calgary Winter Olympics with Labatts Double Blues Band. In 2001 he was brought to Windsor as the Canadian Motown Star in celebration of Detroit's 300th birthday.

Eugene Smith comes by his talent honestly. His father, Al Lucas, played standup bass for greats like Duke Ellington and James Brown. His mother, Valeire Abbot (Hunt) was a jazz pianist and vocalist who gained notoriety in the Toronto area.

He holds in his bag of tricks a variety of musical accompaniments including a djembe, harmonica, jaw harp, finger piano and even a hand trumpet.

The Exclusive Connection (TEC) (2024)

The Exclusive Connection (TEC) - is a collection of 10 African Musicians and Singers who individually and collectively have played with some of Africa's greatest talents including Davido, Ade Bantu, Blitz the Ambassador, Wizkid, Flavour, Mama Oyenka, Tiwa Savage, Flavour, Omawunmi, Andrelinaline, Waje and numerous others within Africa and Internationally. A number of the musicians are also music Directors, producers, arrangers, and lecturers with one being the "brain behind MTN Project1 Fame" in West Africa. TEC offers a "profusion of exquisite rhythms, cadence, harmonies, jazz/funk/fusion and soul."

Baba Williams - Drum Circle (2017, 2018, 2023)

Baba Williams - Drum Circle - BA Music - diversified experience with classical piano, trumpet and drumming - can provide from 3 - 90 drummers offering performances, workshop and/or drum circle presentations. He has featured as djembe soloist at different concerts and productions and has also been involved in Theatre, chorales, and studio recordings across 3 continents. "He is regarded as one of Canada’s most prolific and respected drumming instructors."


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