JASMINE WILSON - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
VOCALIST, RADIO HOST, COMMUNITY LEADER
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My background is in classical, operatic singing. I am a recent graduate of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, where I pursued a concentration in Vocal Performance and minored in Business Management.
During my final year at McGill, I also served as the Chief Coordinator of the Black Students' Network (BSN). The people I met, the discussions we had, and the amount that I learned from each of the members made BSN one of the most valuable experiences I had during university. The membership of BSN is incredibly diverse with people coming from across the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Canada. They introduced me to so much of the cultural richness in the black diaspora.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
My inspiration largely comes from the people who are close to me. My family and friends are incredibly supportive, so it is motivating to know they've got my back. I love surrounding myself with passionate people, because their passion is contagious. Someone who is passionate about music, or politics or engineering motivate me to be the best I can be at what I do.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I was intimately exposed to opera as a student in the high school program of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The years I spent there as a singer established a foundation for me in following a life in the arts.
Although my background is as a classical singer, I lately have been exploring jazz, soul, and r&b. I also write and perform spoken word. Currently, I am a host for Soul Perspectives on CKUT 90.3FM, which is a weekly radio show that is "the voice and soul" of Montreal's black community. In the future I would like to pursue more writing, acting, and produce creative works that challenge the perceptions of visible minorities.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as someone who fought for progressive change through the arts.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
I'm really good at multi-tasking. I tend to have several different projects going on at once, so I plan as much as I can in advance. Often times I plan a week, sometimes a month, in advance to spend time with friends. I try to create regularities in my schedule. For example, I reserve a specific time every week for my family. Establishing regularity makes it easier for me manage my life, accommodate the unpredictable, and find leisure time.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food: I love breakfast foods. If I'm craving a taste of home, Southern soul food. Tiramisu is my favorite dessert.
Book: I'm actually really into audiobooks. I like knitting, and I find that listening to an audiobook is a perfect compliment to the activity. So, Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series narrated by Simon Vance are my favorite audiobooks.
Music: Anything with soul
Movie: Ratatouille (I'm a kid at heart!)
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada? (Also suggest solutions if any challenges of being black in Canada)
My experience as a Black person in Canada has been eye-opening, to say the least. I grew up in the United States where most Black people identify as African-American. My family, like many others, dates back countless generations in the States. I love how directly connected many Black Canadians are to their Caribbean or African heritage. I am grateful to have been introduced to so many different cultures of the black diaspora through friends, school, and work while here in Canada.
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
I commend the Black community centers; they are doing an excellent job of reaching out to our youth. I had the pleasure of hosting a radio show at a Montreal community center that featured live performances of teens who created a mixtape together. Their recording studio was in the center, so they would come by after school and work on their hip hop, r&b, or house track. It's so important to encourage and highlight their talents.
Do Blacks support black music, events and businesses?
In my opinion yes, when there is an opportunity. Blacks who seek to be involved in the black community especially promote black music, events, and businesses.
Some claim we have musical artists in Canada that are as good or better than those in the US?
Without a doubt! I've already studied, learned, and collaborated with some amazing Canadian musical artists.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Artists?
Right now, I'm really digging Kellylee Evans. She has a gorgeous voice, and I also like how she spins popular songs into jazz ballads. The members of the Kalmunity Vibe Collective here in Montreal are individually and collectively awesome artists and teachers. I also like Nomadic Massive.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
I find that there is not enough Black Canadian history taught in schools. Canada is a country that prides itself for it diversity and multiculturalism, yet there isn't as much of an emphasis on learning the histories of those who bring the diversity. I was astonished to meet so many bright, intelligent black Canadian students at McGill who had limited exposure to black Canadian history.
It is important for all Canadians to learn about history from different perspectives. In the past four years, there have been at least two incidences where blackface occurred on university campuses in Montreal. Although minstrelsy did occur in Canada, it is often portrayed as an American phenomenon. Bearing this in mind, teaching Black History as a part of Canadian history is a necessary means to prevent racially offensive acts and encourage inclusiveness.