With the Toronto Raptors still riding high from winning their first NBA championship, PhemPhat Entertainment Group’s Executive Director Ebonnie Rowe reflects proudly that Honey Jam began the same year as the champions. “One of our alums Denosh Bennett was the Raptors first Dance Squad Captain for the cheerleaders,” remembers Rowe. “I also remember that the team had some struggles in the early years as they worked to establish themselves just as we were with Honey Jam, but look at us now!”

Both organizations have come a long way since 1995 and will be celebrating their 25th Anniversaries next year. This year in particular Honey Jam alums are making waves:

  • Haviah Mighty made the Polaris Prize short list and was featured on a Spotify billboard at Yonge & Dundas Square and her latest track “Wishy Washy” was selected as one of the top songs of the summer.
  • Lu released her single “Don’t Count Me Out”, became iheartRadio’s Future Star and broke through to the Top 40 of two Canadian Billboard Charts.
  • Jordan Alexander was selected to star alongside Juliette Lewis and Ryan Kwanten in Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones TV series on Facebook Watch and collaborated with Carly Rae Jepson on the “Feels Right” pride remix.
  • TiKA was chosen as a face of Sephora Canada’s #withSephora campaign and also received a Slaight Music residency at the prestigious film centre.
  • The Sorority opened for Snoop Dog and Wutang Clan at Ottawa Bluesfest and were chosen to create a song for Canada’s women’s soccer team in partnership with NIKE.
  • Amber J, Will, Julia Gartha, Divine Lightbody and Saveria were all chosen for CTV’s The Launch
  • Chelsea Stewart was nominated for the 2019 Reggae Recording of the Year at the Juno Awards
  • Saveria’s song “Down to the Roots” has charted #3 on iTunes Canada, reached 200K streams on Spotify and plays around the country on Hot AC radio. She also performed at the iHeartRadio Fanfest

Each year Honey Jam artists participate in a music industry workshop at Harris Institute, receive one-on-one vocal and performance coaching from celebrity coach Elaine Overholt, participate in multiple mentor café’s and have Q&A’s with celebrities that have included LeToya Luckett (Destiny’s Child), Marsha Ambrosius (Floetry), Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Jessie Reyez, TrakGirl, and this year’s guests Elle Varner, Nova Wav, and Amaal.

Saveria will be returning to the Honey Jam stage to perform her hit song and the host of the night is CBC host and playwright Amanda Parris. The Honey Jam concert will take place on Thursday August 22nd at the Mod Club in Toronto and acts as a fundraiser for the YWCA programmes for women and girls. Tickets

2019 HONEY JAM ARTISTS

It’s impossible not to become infatuated with retro-pop queen AIDA as she proudly wears her TWA, and is always clad in 90s reminiscent outfits. The Paris-born Canadian-based singer is a refreshment to the sounds and grooves reminiscent of a happier and simpler time in contrast with slightly more vulnerable topics. AIDA’s retro/feel good RnB can be heard on her most streamed song “GHOSTIN’” Social & Streaming @aidasolive

With a sweet, jazz-tinged voice, Jess Leung shines through her folk-inspired melodies and lyrics about self-discovery and life’s intimate moments. A finalist of the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Competition and an anthem singer for the Toronto Raptors, the classical flutist and pianist released her first single, “Rollercoaster”, in 2018. Influenced by the music of John Mayer, Maggie Rogers, Kacey Musgraves, Ellie Goulding, Stromae, and Ingrid Michaelson, Jess shows an ease and confidence in her indie pop style. www.jessleungmusic.com

Denille Dieon Reeves, known professionally as I.P. The Poet, is a Canadian poet, singer, rapper, songwriter, and activist. Her name, I.P. stands for “Inverted Perception” which is a mindset, a movement, an identity. Inverted Perception empowers one to unapologetically be themselves despite the repercussions. I.P. THE POET strives to impact the world not just through the vibrations of sound but by the power of words, bringing positivity, and hope to the heart of her listeners. @ipthepoet

Singer-songwriter Aria Ohlsson is currently creating her debut EP with various collaborators including Jay Century and Mark Pelli (from the band Magic!) who produced her latest single “Heaven”. The song received support from Apple Music on the playlists Mellow Days, Breaking Singer/Songwriter and Relax, along with placements on various Spotify lists. Ohlsson draws inspiration from the likes of Amy Winehouse to John Mayer with a soulful twist. @ariaohlsson

From Kingston, Jamaica, T.NA [pronounced Tina] SMITH is a 21-year old classical vocalist and versatile performer. In a musical genre less than inclusive of Black women, T.NA is a trailblazer for women who defy stereotypes in the music industry. Applauded by Juno-winning icons, Jully Black and JRDN, as well as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, CTV’s Marci Ien and Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean – T.NA has a natural gift for opera. She is best known for her crisp, clear soprano voice and impressive range, extending into the whistle register. Facebook: @tna.smithmusic Instagram: @tna.smith

Canadian singer-songwriter Sagèlee Archer blends soul infused lyrics, old school instrumentation & pop hooks into her music. In 2019, she released “Negligent” which was recently added to Spotify’s R&B favourites playlist garnering over 30,000 streams. In 2018, she released her first single “Man Up (Love Me)” which was played on Flow 93.5. Her influences vary from Lauryn Hill, John Mayer and Maxwell; to Janet Jackson, and Prince. www.sageleearcher.com

Rachel Cousins is an award-winning singer/songwriter from St. John’s, NL, who’s single “Let Go” was listed # 2 of the top 100 songs on the east coast for 2018. The song was licensed to the SYFY/Space TV show Wynonna Earp and the CBC Podcast Hudson. Cousins performs about 100 shows per year, all while being a full-time high school student in 3 choirs and is part of the musical theatre community. Her debut album This Fire was released in 2017, which lead to performing alongside Serena Ryder, Dave Marsh, Andrew Scott and Luke McMaster. Cousins has been nominated for Music NL Female Artist of the Year and Rising Star awards and has recently released her single “Dangerous Love.” www.rachelcousinsmusic.com

Divine Lightbody is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and recording artist who draws inspiration from R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, Pop, and Reggae. She created a YouTube channel that has received over 50K hits and then appeared on CTV’s The Launch, where she auditioned for Ryan Tedder, Jennifer Nettles and Scott Borchetta. Lightbody has performed at Jerk Fest, Honey Jam, Talent Nation and will be performing at CariFest this summer. She is currently receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Music (Jazz) at Humber College and will be releasing her single “I Do” in August. @divineluvzz

22-year-old Hayley Verrall has won the 2019 International Female Vocalist of the Year, Female Entertainer of the Year and Horizon Songwriter Award from the North American Country Music Association, International. With her Nashville recorded debut single “’Like You Mean It’, she draws on her influences from Patsy Cline and Roseanne Cash to Ashley McBryde and Maren Morris. Verrall believes her purpose in life is to inspire and bring joy to others through music and her program Singing for Smiles, brings classic country music to seniors, nursing and long-term care homes.  She earned her the 2018 Arts Person of the Year award in her hometown of Burlington, Ontario. www.hayleyverrallmusic.com

Raised on Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse, Erez Zobary blends the sounds and styles of her youth with contemporary and electronic influences. Zobary came into her voice in her late teens despite debilitating vocal nodules killing her upper register. Her lifelong dedication to music helped her overcome the trials of restriction and limitation, and perfect the gruff tones and sultry alto she rocks today. Performing at various venues and events across Canada, Zobary’s intention is to curate connectivity and strengthen the relationship between the sound, the space, and the people. https://soundcloud.com/erezzobarymusic

 Jäjé is a multidisciplinary artist, whose work ranges from film and television to numerous staged productions and live performances. Her entry into performance arts began at the tender age of 3 under the tutelage of the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre. As a professionally trained dancer and graduate of Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, Jäjé’s artistry extends through her capabilities within various vocal styles, acting and her love of poetry. Her unique ethno-cultural perspective, stemming from her Trinidadian heritage, coupled with her artistic capabilities within each individual discipline allow for an intriguing intersection of various art forms. https://youtu.be/7x_UU3iGQGs

Singer, songwriter, and producer Kris Goslin’s music is a cross of R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz and occasionally Gospel. Born in Kingston, Jamaica she started singing at 3 years old and begun formal training at 11 at the New Conservatory of Music. She began writing and producing her own songs at 13 after relocating to Canada and attending a performing school. Now at 21, Goslin has completed the Independent Song Writing and Performance program at Seneca and will be doing Radio Broadcasting at Seneca in the fall. @krisgoslin

Canadian R&B singer-songwriter Grace Marr’s smooth soul sound fuses gospel vocals with honest songcraft. At 20 years old, she is already a two-time Canadian Songwriting Competition semi-finalist and an alumnus of the “From Emerging to Export” Artist Development program. Marr is currently being mentored in songwriting, performing and career development by JUNO award-winning artist Kellylee Evans. She is recording her debut album Tsunami with producer Clayton Connell. https://www.gracemarrmusic.com

Performing artist Getchnah helps to execute young artists’ musical visions with her knowledge of mixing and editing working at the Boys and Girls Club Canada’s INC Recording Studio. Getchnah was a self-taught dancer at the age of 10 and performed throughout middle and high school. After graduating from Trebas for audio engineering, she joined several dance groups to further her skills. At City Dance Corp, she trained in Hip Hop, Afro Beats, and Ballet and at Dance Troupe TO she extensively trained in Hip Hop. With her current group Next Dance Motion, she choreographs for other artists, curates workshops for women, and creates dance videos. Getchnah is working on her debut EP. https://soundcloud.com/getchnah

Riley Wheater is a powerful 15-year-old vocalist from Whitby, Ontario with a love for the arts, including singing, dancing and acting. She recently released her first original song, “Ride or Die,” produced by Adam Newcomb and written by Roberta Michele Quilico and Sacha Visagie. Wheater danced competitively for 10 years and has been in many musical productions. Some of her musical inspirations are Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris. Wheater has performed at various events including making it to the semi-finals of the Next Country Music Star. https://youtu.be/ttGEQ2PiXiE

Singer-songwriter Nya Tayn also known as Nya is a young East African poetess, born in raised in Toronto’s west end. Originally focused on spoken word and floetry, she recently shifted to creating music inspired by her heritage as a first-generation Canadian. Influenced by the likes of Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah, Nya’s music is soulful, and honest about navigating life and love.  She is currently creating her debut EP. https://soundcloud.com/nyatayn/sets/intentions/s-ksifr

Singer-songwriter Angela Nethersole’s honest vocals and lyrics pull you into her R&B, Soul, and Jazz fusion. In 2018, she was the winner of the iLive Soulfest Open Artist Program and draws inspiration from artists such as Emily King, Erykah Badu, India Arie, and Solange. Nethersole is currently creating her debut EP. @angelanethersole

Melissa Kadas has only recently begun her music career with her debut original single “Shine to the Stars.” Having been taking vocal and performance lessons with Lorraine Lawson for almost 2 years, Kadas is thrilled to be attending the Mayfield School of the Arts this fall. She also studied Technic vocals for a year and a half with Falconer Abraham. Kadas has performed at various events around Toronto and is looking forward to performing at Honey Jam. @melissakadas

HONEY JAM BARBADOS ALUM

Singer-songwriter Leigh Phillips has released her debut full-length album, Queen, as a follow up to her singles “Dislocated Love” and “Coconut Oil.” Born in Grenada and raised in Barbados, her sound blends a neo-soul feel paired with Caribbean rhythmic elements. With a range of influences including Anita Baker, Buju Banton, Billie Holiday, and Alison Hinds, she released her debut EP Leigh in 2017. From there she toured as the Barbadian representative for Season Five of the television series Club One New Releases. We’re sure you’ll join her growing fan base, whom she affectionately calls her #Loveleighs. “Coconut Oil” music video https://youtu.be/h5NhyXlgwqE

SPECIAL GUEST HONEY JAM ALUM

Fresh off being the chosen artist for CTV’s The Launch Season 2 (EP3), Saveria’s song “Down to the Roots” written by Simon Wilcox and produced by Jon Levine, has charted #3 on iTunes Canada & plays around the country on Hot AC radio. With a new set of songs, this year has already taken her to bigger stages such as iHeart Radio Fan Fest in Toronto, Festival D’ete in Quebec City, and the Cavendish Beach Festival in P.E.I. Inspired by multiple genres of music, Saveria’s sound is a unique blend of R&B, psychedelic soul and pop. https://youtu.be/C3Xl9ICmjWU https://www.saveriamusic.com

HONEY JAM 2019 HOST

By day, Amanda Parris writes a weekly column for CBC Arts, hosts three CBC television series (CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTSTHE FILMMAKERS and FROM THE VAULTS), and is the radio host of MARVIN’S ROOM on CBC Music. By night, she writes stories for the stage and screen. In Amanda’s past lives she was an educator who wrote arts-based curriculum, attended numerous acting auditions, and dreamed of opening a school that Blue Ivy Carter would attend.

Over the course of her career, Amanda has worn a variety of hats, working as an educator, a researcher, an actor and a community organizer. She is the co-founder of the award-winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics, and worked with The Remix Project and the Manifesto Festival. She is a frequently requested speaker who has delivered keynotes at numerous summits and festivals, including U.N. conferences around the world. Parris completed her Honours B.A. degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies at York University and her M.A. degree in Sociology of Education at the University of Toronto. She was a playwright in residence at Cahoots Theatre and Alameda Theatre and studied writing and acting at b current, anitafrika dub theatre and The Lee Strasberg Institute of Film and Theatre. IG/Twitter amanda_parris