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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Ronnie ‘Bop’ Williams - Unheralded reggae pioneer helped define the genre

He was one of the early architects of Jamaican music – a guitarist, bass player, songwriter, arranger and producer whose contributions to hundreds of recordings helped to shape reggae and popularize it around the world. He played with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Nash and Toots and the Maytals, and worked for such famous studio owners as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee and Lee (Scratch) Perry, and the Trojan, Treasure Isle and Upsetter record labels. Yet the name Ronnie (Bop) Williams is barely known outside of reggae circles.Part of the reason for the near anonymity was Mr. Williams’s own modesty. A soft-spoken man, he came from extremely humble roots in rural Jamaica, teaching himself to play on a...
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Music Feature: Stranger in the Market

To walk through the middle of Toronto's Kensington Market on a Saturday in the early ’80s was to enter what locals called the “wobble zone.” There on a stretch of Kensington Avenue, between St. Andrew and Baldwin, the booming bass sounds coming from two sets of opposing speakers could throw passersby a little off balance.The duelling sound systems, like something out of The Harder They Come, belonged to a pair of Jamaican expat musicians who ran competing reggae record shops, each facing the other. Stranger Cole came first, in 1978, launching his Roots Records store – the first Caribbean business in the Market – at 58 Kensington. Four years later, Rannie “Bop” Williams opened Record Corner a...
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Jay Douglas at the Friar's Music Museum

Toronto reggae-soul star Jay Douglas, originally from Montego Bay, got his start with the Cougars, playing at the West Indies Federation Club at Brunswick and College then at Club Jamaica on Yonge Street before crossing over to Le Coq D'Or. The Cougars can be heard on the great Jamaica to Toronto compilation from the Light in the Attic label. Here, Jay and his band return to Yonge and take over the Friar's Music Museum space for a half-hour concert and an animated history lesson of the Toronto music scene. Tip o' the hat to Mark Garner, Museum co-curator Jan Haust and the ever youthful legend Jay Douglas.Watch Jay at the Friar's Music Museum here 
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Denise Jones - A vital force for reggae music in Canada

Denise Jones wore many hats: actress, dancer, artist manager, concert presenter, festival producer, event planner and mother of two. A pillar, along with her husband, Allan, of the Jamaican-Canadian community, she worked tirelessly throughout her career to promote Caribbean culture – first through plays and pantomimes and then through reggae concerts and arts festivals – to increasingly larger audiences.The multifaceted businesswoman was also a strong activist, championing diversity long before “Black Lives Matter” became a popular movement. In 1989, in the wake of the police shooting death of Mississauga Black teenager Wade Lawson, Ms. Jones spoke to a task force on race relations and criti...
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Dream Warriors - A fresh spin on rap

The setting was a public-housing unit in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale. But the two young men were basking in an unmistakably Caribbean atmosphere. The townhouse was filled with the pungent smell of a West Indian fish fry, and a video of a Jamaican reggae dance was playing on the TV. It seemed an unlikely base for two of the fastest-rising stars in rap music, a musical style more associated with U.S. ghettos than Canadian suburbs. But Caribbean-born King Lou (Louis Robinson) and Capital Q (Frank Allert) have made a name for themselves, as the Dream Warriors, by revolutionizing rap music. Said Q: “Everyone’s accustomed to rap with guys swearing and bragging about themselves and violence. W...
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