KAREN JEWELS - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
BIO: - Karen Jewels is a singer/songwriter and founder of Upright Music Republic who also owns her own fashion company called Neutron Starr and one day hopes to be the Black Martha Stewart.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am the founder of Upright Music Republic under which I released a CD called "The Victor Project" and I am now working on projects for other artists. I provide mentorship and will be running weekly creative workshops as I mentor young artists. What many people may not know about me is that I am a simple person who is an idealist. Another thing is that I dream to one day to venture into the food industry. I want to be like the black Martha Stewart.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
My inspiration comes from life, God and family. I have to push myself to stay motivated, most importantly by trusting in God's plan for me. I encourage myself when thing is rough. Also, I have people around me who encourage me to keep going and I avoid negative people.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
So far, I’ve gotten to where I am now by taking chances, sticking with the vision and staying positive. Every year, I have a theme. Once, it was the year of no fear, another the year of preparation. This year, the theme is traveling and expanding abroad. Every year, I work to improve myself, perfect a weakness or reach a goal. I may not get it totally perfect but after a while, I look back and see progress.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for being an inspiration and for living out my purpose, for sharing love and giving back to the community. I also want to be remembered for being a good person who loves God and for someone who has made a great impact on her surroundings through my passion and gifts.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
It's really hard to balance everything. I find that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things that I want to do. I am the sole supporter of 2 children so it’s extremely hard but I guess I can be persistent and focused at times. I am getting better at planning out my day to cover ground and I had to learn to say no. Also, I’m learning to delegate and ask for help. I have a great support system from my friends and family so they really make things easier. For me, work and leisure goes hand in hand. I don't really watch TV and even when I’m "relaxing" it’s with a pen and paper or a phone in hand to write down ideas.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
My favourite food would have to be any type of dessert with cream, creme brulee, custards, whipped cream etc. It’s really bad but tastes really good! I like reading books about business, self-help. My favourite movies are Colour Purple, Rush Hour and The Notebook.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
I was born in Canada and went to an elementary school that had predominantly white children. I have experienced discrimination and racism of course - both blatant and non-blatant. Some folks are born with an advantage but at the end of the day, you have to work hard and prove to no one else but yourself that you too can be successful regardless.
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
I think we could always support black businesses more instead of complaining about our shortcomings in the community. We should celebrate ourselves and try to build each other up.
Should Blacks support black music, events and businesses?
Yes, we should support one another because this is the only way we will ever grow as a community. When you look at the other communities out there who are thriving, it is because there is a strong sense of pride. We need to be proud of who we are and push to become better. We need to pour into the community and especially into the next generation so they don't make the same mistakes.
Some claim we have musical artists and talents in Canada that are as good or better than those in the US?
I believe we have a lot of really talented artists in Canada. The problem is that resources are limited, the platform is limited and so then the growth to becomes limited. Many artists thus have to find their success in the U.S. because, in Canada, a black artist can only go so far.
Mention a few of your favourite Black Canadian Artists?
I like many artists like Right for Canadian Gospel artist and a worship team called Matthew Macintosh and LIFE. As for the veteran artist, as a songwriter, I have respect for Jully Black. I like the fact that she remains positive in her music and is still successful.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
I am glad that at an early age my mom sent me to Black heritage classes. So, at an early age, I already had an understanding about the accomplishments of Black people. I grew up around the corner of Dudley Laws' office and for much of my life, I would see him on a daily basis and then at the time see him in the news or in the papers. I was too young to see it then but now I can understand that I was a first-hand witness to Black Canadian History.