On October 26 at 2 p.m., we are going to kick off my 12th Sunday Afternoon Gospel Series at Hugh’s Room in Toronto with a fabulous show of African Nova Scotian gospel music. I was there last spring, met some incredible folks and the Mother’s Day Service at the Baptist Church in North Preston was unforgettable. Many people don’t realize that the black communities of Nova Scotia go back over 250 years and remain vibrant to this day. I’m very excited by the line up of singers coming which features Linda Carvery, Jeremiah Sparks and Jivaro Smith. You don’t want to miss this! ~ Ken Whiteley
Nova Scotia Mass Choir member and soloist, Linda Carvery embarked on her solo career in 2000. Working with Bill Stevenson and the crew at CBC Halifax, Linda recorded her first solo CD Yesterday / Today. This recording featured selections of her personal jazz, blues, r&b and gospel favourites and she won the ECMA for Best Jazz Artist in 2002. Linda has since expanded her musical horizons by performing in the Neptune Theatre productions of the musicals Gospel at Colonus and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. She also performed in Eastern Front Theatre’s production of Whylah Falls, which staged a series of performances at the National Arts Centre. Linda performed at the Halifax for Haiti fundraising concert, and recently was part of the East Coast Blues Summit on CBC. She is also a regular featured performer with the Canadian Atlantic Ladies In Blues film series. Linda’s musical diversity and powerful presence combine to deliver an entertainment experience that has attracted a large and loyal following. Aside from her musical endeavours, Linda recently served as the Citizenship Judge for the Atlantic region.
Now based in Toronto, Jeremiah Sparks was born and raised in Cherrybrook. His musical career started in the church, where he became the organist at the age of sixteen. By the time he was asked to move to Toronto to play the role of Mufasa in “The Lion King“, he had held the position of Church organist and Choir director for the Nova Scotia Mass Choir for over twenty years. Jeremiah is an accomplished actor, singer and composer whose theatre credits include Hosanna, Satchmo suite, The Odyssey (Stratford; actor and composer), Mother Courage, A Christmas Carol, and Oliver for the National Arts Center. He is also a major performer in the world renown production of “Drum” and he recently performed as the lead role in the play “Cake” for the Biyimba International Arts Festival in Uganda, Africa.
Born in North Preston, Jivaro Smith started singing at the age of 4. He is a former member of the “Hallelujah Praise Choir,” and left Nova Scotia in 2001 to pursuit his singing and acting career in the Toronto production of “The Lion King”, where he played the role of Simba. With a vocal range that starts low enough to consider him a true baritone and ends high enough on the tenor scale to give him the mark of a true crooner from the Motown era, Jivaro has proven himself to be an old soul in a young body. His strong and raspy delivery will be sure to send chills up your spine as his skills mirror the likes of Teddy Pendergrass, Otis Redding and John P. Kee. In addition to his theatrical endeavours, Jivaro is a pastor and the head of the music ministry at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church in Toronto.
Toronto bassist Ben Whiteley is a highly sought after bassist who plays with Basia Bulat, New Country Rehab and The Good Lovelies to name only a few. After a number of years of stellar work holding down the “bottom end”, Ben now brings his winning stage presence and superb musicianship to what has become a somewhat infrequent treat of seeing father and son perform together.
Ken Whiteley’s is a Canadian roots music legend. His musical journey has taken him from jug band, folk and swing to blues, gospel and children’s music. Among numerous accolades, he has been awarded a Canadian Folk Music Award, Genie Award for Best Original Song in a Canadian film, Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals and Mariposa Folk Festival. He has also been nominated for 7 Juno awards and 14 Maple Blues Awards. Ken’s live performances showcase his outstanding musicianship on guitars and mandolin, award winning original songs and his powerful vocals, called “…a cross between Pete Seeger and Tony Bennett on 11!” Whether leading his own group, solo or collaborating with peers at blues, folk, children’s festivals and concerts of all sizes, his “…deep knowledge and infectious passion” guarantee good times for all. As a producer of over 125 recording projects, Ken’s productions have garnered 10 Canadian Gold and Platinum records, 4 American Gold records, 22 Juno and 2 Grammy nominations, and sold over 8 million copies.