What’s the definition of ‘emerge’?
- To move out of or away from something to become visible
- To become apparent or prominent
When it comes to breaking out new talent or reintroducing familiar names to an audience that might not have heard them to begin with, I’m sure that this is the best word to put to use. The whole point is to become known and to stand out in a crowd where hundreds of people are all trying to strive for relatively, the same goals as musicians. Some have it better than others in terms of their hustle to get there, but to see just what the city has to offer, how could you not love what’s out here? I wasn’t familiar with Emerge as an organization, but any organization (like The Known Unknown or Manifesto or RISE Poetry or Urbanology Magazine) that provides a platform for artists to show what they have, I have to give respect for them, because in this city where we’re still working on fixing our screwfaces, it’s still great to see at least decent turn outs to these events. I knew 2 performers on the bill (Savannah Re & Veronica Domingues), but of course I’m always open to meeting new artists and establishing at least a line of communication just to let them know that I support them – you have to. It’s important, and I wish more people weren’t so high and mighty to understand that.
Shakura S’Aida proved to be an entertaining host as the night moved along, encouraging the crowd to be more engaging (you know how the regular Toronto crowds are), and displaying the generation gaps whenever she talked about using hashtags to tweet or post on Instagram. It was all fun and spirited with her, and she did her job well. She kept it funny and entertaining through and through.
You know how when you were in school, people usually got nervous to do presentations first because they didn’t want to have that pressure on them? I can’t lie to you, I always used to volunteer first just to get it out of the way, and also if you did a good enough job, it put the pressure on the following people to top or even match the performance they just witnessed. That’s exactly what happened when Enuma graced the stage and performed her cover of Floetry’s Say Yes. Let me tell you something; that’s one of my favourite R&B songs ever, and she absolutely killed it.
Heading into the venue having no expectations, I definitely didn’t hear this voice coming, and it wasn’t like she was mimicking everything about the song, because she was emulating her own style as she went along. People judge covers more than originals, but there’s no denying that she definitely did her thing. The bar was pretty much set for the rest of the night, and it was pretty high.
With great music, there was also a great menu full of food that looked great. Through battling a cough and cold, I didn’t have a full appetite, but the running joke all night was the ‘pig balls’. I’m already skeptical of some pork products already, so that was a definite ‘No’ happening for me – I’m sure they tasted fantastic, so God speed to anyone who had them. However, my only indulgence was the music that I was hearing and the artists performing them – it can satisfy ones soul, and the House band was doing a great job keeping the vibe alive.
As the acts moved along through the night, you got different vibes throughout the night, although the consistency was an R&B flavour. Tyanna Nikkita came out with a great outfit that looked inspired by the Golden Era of Divas in soul, and her stage presence definitely gave the look some life. Staasia Daniels (who was happy enough to remind you of her name, because I’m sure you wouldn’t forget it) had bounce in her step with her cover of Badu’s On & On; I definitely enjoyed it and was a crowd favourite. I had the slightest idea that CBC Radio played local talent (you see, the urban radio stations were really supposed to fill that void), but when it was announce before Natasha Waterman’s performance, I had to tip my hat off to her and also for CBC showing support where it’s necessary. She had a great voice as well, and it was hard to keep up with the great acts rolling right after another.
I can’t just leave the gentlemen off of the appreciation, because there were some guys in the house to perform. Christian Bridges and PJ ‘Kingpin’ Wilson both had different styles, but executed them in their own ways. On one side with Christian, you had all guitar everything; him on the Acoustic, and Ben (who I’ve seen at a number of showcases around the city) being the bad man on the Electric. With a great vocal range, energy, and delivery of a few songs, he won the hearts of many in attendance and even announced that he entered a song for the Hockey Night in Canada’s Theme Song contest – be sure to vote. PJ (coming all the way from Barrie) graced the stage like he walked right out of a 1960s Motown club – a great look (the man had a cane, ladies and gentlemen), and the grooves of each song certainly gave you that feel that it was a Motown revitalized, but the vocals didn’t hit all the way for me like I thought it would have. He still had great energy and a presence that at least captured the essence of it.
It was definitely Ladies night as more singers like Daniella Watters and Aria Zenua strut their stuff as well as their voices; Aria spiced things up a bit with a reggae vibe with Trippin and had the audience two stepping as she engaged the audience to come to the front (you know how these Toronto crowds do).
However, the 2 women that I came to see, they not only took the stage but they commanded it. I’ve seen Savannah Re perform at numerous events over the past year, and whether she was singing & dancing, or strictly singing, she always brought energy with her no matter how many people were in attendance. Coming out in a glamorous dress, it was her covers of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy and Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball that had my attention. I didn’t even like the song at all, but her cover was provided with so much passion (and the band playing a part of it) that I couldn’t deny that it’s a damn good song. A lot of people don’t appreciate Crazy like I do, so I’m glad that she performed it – it’s truly one of the best songs ever (yes, ever).
Veronica Domingues – I’ve only known her for a few months, and only seen her perform live once, but I knew that her music was definitely worth seeing live because of how the studio music was arranged from her Just Chill EP (which I finally got a physical copy of). With the House band having left the stage, that made room for her own ensemble (back-up singers, horns, keys, drums, and guitars) to show off what was about to go down. Veronica came on stage looking fierce (I never use that word, by the way), and you know she had it in her mind to kill the stage. She damn near performed every song from the EP (okay, not quite, but a good chunk) including: the title song Just Chill, Keep On, I Get High, and even stole my heart (aiy! Mi corazon) with her Portuguese sung song, Eu Quiero. Before her set, I told her to flourish. What did she go out and do? She flourished and then some. I can only foresee that things will get bigger and brighter for her, because you see the hard work come out into full fruition on stage.
Stepping out and making yourself a known name is the definition of ‘emerge’ in a nutshell. The artists that came out to perform and showcase what they had to offer, all did in their own ways and from the night: fans were made, connections were established, and names to look out for in the future were certainly remembered for future references. I had a great time in a great venue (shout out to Revival one time), and a great atmosphere with great people (everything was just great). A special thanks to the organizers putting this together, as I hope for many more years in their run to promote local talent. Until the next show
That’s My Word & It STiXX