The Underground Railroad Music festival is a one of a kind world class blues and roots event that is named in honour and memory of the fascinating and touching experience of the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad was a series of routes and networks fugitive slaves used to escape from the southern United States to the north and on to Canada.
Blues performers and festival organizer’s Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley describe the festival as soulful and unique. Braithwaite’s own family on her mother’s side came to Canada through the Underground Railroad. “The festival is bluesy with a traditional vibe presenting individuals or groups that will touch your heart and soul with their unique history and songs.”
2014 Festival sponsors include the longtime blues supporter Dan Ackroyd BluesMobile Productions.
This year, the theme is North meets South: Old Songs For A New Day with two acts from the United States taking part in the festival: the wonderful daughter of the legendary blues artist – John Lee Hooker, Zakiya Hooker, and a traditional group of eight from the Georgia Sea Islands called The Georgia Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters. This group’s ancestor’s have lived in Macintosh county since the 1700’s and have kept the songs and stories and healing traditions of their ancestors that came from Africa to the Georgia Sea Islands alive from generation to generation. For more information: www.HotBlues.ca
Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley
Festival organizers and performers
Welcome all to our Underground Railroad Festival Info Page! We look forward to a wonderful celebration of blues and roots music with some very authentic and soulful performers taking part in this one of a kind music festival. Now in our fifth year, this is the first time the festival will be held indoors in three unique venues in cities where people who travelled through the Underground Railroad settled. The Underground Railroad Music Festival goes beyond the music with a strength of spirit story and a celebration of victory and faith. Being performers ourselves, we are bringing together musicians to the stage that have unique heartfelt innovative shows with all the right things involved needed to entertain festival audiences. Laughter, poignant stories, warmth and friendship and unique musical expression. We guarantee you will be touched by each performer presenting at the festival, their unique stories and what they each bring to their music as a result of their own life journey. The festival is about unity, friends new and old, celebrating and making history, with two countries -Canada and the United States and most of all it’s about a whole lot of good music that will touch your heart and soul.
Thank you and looking forward to seeing you at Hugh’s Room on Sunday Sept. 28th!
Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley
Award winning blues originals and an authentic vintage sound! 8 time national blues award winners Braithwaite and Whiteley’s album DeltaPhonic reached #1 on XM satellite radio, B.B. Kings Bluesville. America’s Blues Revue Magazine called them “Masters of Old School Blues”. Winner of Chicago’s African-American Women in the Arts Award, Diana Braithwaite’s authentic sound led her into the company of stalwarts Albert Collins, and John Lee Hooker. Kansas born multi-instrumentalist, Chris Whiteley, appeared on Saturday Night Live and toured and recorded with Blind John Davis, SonnyLand Slim and Leon Redbone.
Georgia Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters from Darien Georgia
Rare Canadian Appearance! Celebrating many years of preserving Geechee Gullah Ring Shouting, now one of the world’s top performers and preservers of the Geechee Gullah Culture.
Background on The Gullah/Geechee Culture
An Article by Congressman James E. Clyburn
The sites, sounds and tastes of the Gullah/Geechee culture have been slowly vanishing along the coasts of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Small enclaves of Gullah, in the Carolinas and “Geechee” in Georgia and Florida remain. There you listen to traditional spirituals like “Kumbaya” and watch nimble hands weave gorgeous sweet grass baskets with a skill that has been handed down from generation to generation. There you can enjoy the aroma and tastes of “hoppin John” sweet potato pie, or benne wafers, all Gullah/Geechee specialties that have found their way into our modern culture.
These communities were developed by former slaves whose life on the Sea Islands began in indigo and rice fields. When they were freed they gathered in isolated and remote villages that nurtured and sustained their way of life for generations. But a few years ago developers saw the potential to turn these small pockets of paradise into resort areas and as the roads and bridges came, this unique slice of history and tradition grew smaller and smaller.
Recently legislation established the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and created a commission to help federal, state, and local authorities manage the Corridor and its assets.It took more than seven years of work to get the bill passed into law, but today the commission is working hard on efforts to preserve and promote the nearly 400 year old history of the Gullah/Geechee culture.
The Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters live reside in Darien, Georgia one of the oldest cities in the United States. Their ancestors who were brought to Darien in Macintosh County were brought as slaves and were master rice growers and indigo makers.
Click here to watch youtube footage of Georgia Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters
Daughter of the world renowned blues artist John Lee Hooker
The Legend Continues….
As an international celebrity who’s father is known by all blues lovers around the world, Zakiya Hooker is also an amazing gracious, humble and wonderful person.
Being the daughter of living blues legend John Lee Hooker, Zakiya is quite familiar with the blues. To choose to follow in his footsteps is a major undertaking. But rather than relying on her father, she has pursued life, and music, on her own terms, overcoming personal tragedy along the way. A strong and versatile vocalist, Zakiya has carved out a market for herself.
Zakiya made her debut performance in 1991 with her dad, John Lee Hooker, at the Kaiser Center Theatre in Oakland, CA. Since that time Zakiya has gone on to perform on shows with the likes of Etta James, Charles Brown, John Hammond, Taj Mahal and many more.
Zakiya has performed internationally in Paris, Amsterdam, London and Switzerland. She has performed at the world famous Filmore Auditorium, The San Francisco Blues Festival and The Monterey Jazz & Blues Festival. Zakiya’s voice can be heard on advertisements for Lexus and AIWA, also on the soundtrack of the movie Chalk, which won both the Camera d’Or at Cannes and Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in San Francisco.
To see Zakiya’s show is a sheer treat. Backed by some of the top names in the blues world, she puts on a witty, funny, emotional and most of all entertaining show. Her music has given her the