Voices of Freedom Festival: November 7-9, 2019

Bravo Niagara!'s Voices of Freedom Festival was born out of a desire to give voice to underrepresented histories and peoples. Since 2015, the Voices of Freedom Festival has commemorated and celebrated the cultural contributions of people of African descent. In recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), the Festival highlights Niagara's significant Black history, fosters intercultural dialogue, and highlights the ongoing journey to freedom through the arts. Endorsed by the UNESCO Slave Route Project, the annual Festival includes inspiring musical performances and interactive outreach for youth. Past Voices of Freedom Festival artists include Richard Bona, Measha Brueggergosman, Wycliffe Gordon, and more. Read more about the festival here.

I wish to congratulate you for your initiative which will showcase the musical interactions generated by the slave trade and slavery. This festival will pay tribute to the resistance and resilience of Enslaved People and highlight their contribution to modern societies. Your project is in line with the UNESCO Slave Route project's objectives and will contribute to the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

-Ali Moussa-Iye, Chief, History and Memory for Dialogue Section, UNESCO


2019 Artists & Participants


2019 Voices of Freedom Festival Highlights

November 7, 2019 - 1pm

Laura Secord Secondary School - FREE EVENT

  • Local youth will have an exciting opportunity to participate in workshops with GRAMMY-winning artists: legendary South African bass player Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) and drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy).

November 8, 2019 - 7:30pm

Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines (7:30pm)

  • The Voices of Freedom Concert features an all-star lineup of artists including jazz legend Monty Alexander and his Harlem-Kingston Express. GRAMMY Award nominee Monty Alexander has established himself as one of jazz music’s most diverse and globally recognized piano titans. For six decades, Monty has led some of the most celebrated groups in the genre’s history and has prided himself on bringing the sounds of music from his birthplace of Kingston, Jamaica to the place he calls home, America.

    Opening: GRAMMY-winning drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy) and his band open the Voices of Freedom Concert with special guest GRAMMY-winning South African bass player Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon). Students from the Laura Secord Secondary School will join Bakithi for a special performance of iconic Paul Simon music!

    Artistic Producer: Céline Peterson

With his Harlem-Kingston Express, he brings together musicians versed in both reggae and straight-ahead jazz, creating a brew that’s danceable and lilting and often ramps up from hypnotic to electrifying.

— The Wall Street Journal

November 9, 2019 - 4pm

Film House, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines (4pm)
Tickets coming soon!

  • Bravo Niagara! and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre co-present a screening of the award-winning documentary film Crescendo: The Power of Music, followed by a discussion with special guest speaker Stanford Thompson, Founder & Executive Director of the El Sistema-inspired organization Play On, Philly!.