For 20 years, the Honey Jam musical showcase has been giving female musicians of varying levels of experience across the country, an opportunity to share a night of celebration of their craft. Honey Jam, started by the Executive Director of PhemPhat Entertainment Ebonnie Rowe, does more than just that however. This year the musicians were given a chance to attend a workshop in partnership with the famous Harris Institute of Music, receive one-on-one vocal and performance coaching at Big Voice Studios, and have their songs put into radio rotation.
On August 13th, the main showcase took place at the Mod Club, hosted by Much Music VJ Sarah Taylor. The show opened with a passionate jazz performance by Toronto’s own Charlotte Fabro and was followed by single song performances based in genres from country, easy listening, EDM, and rap coming via women from as far away as Manitoba and the Maritimes.
Stand out performances came from 16 year-old Tara Lord or Little T as she has come to be known as. She fervently spit lines about growing up in a house surrounded by rap music while owning every inch of the stage. At one point during her set, she repeatedly called out “who got my back?” and her father yelled, “I got your back,” from the front of the stage. The exchange melted hearts as it showed the true strength of a father and daughter relationship tethered by an appreciation for music.
The beautifully harmonic performance of their original single “Chance” from acoustic duo Great Wave sent shivers through spines. And finally, an acoustic self-love number called “Magical Carpet Ride” from young Haitian-Canadian Charmie Deller, who asked for the reverb layer to be dropped from her voice so that she could really love herself. She also broke the song down into a beatbox interlude that earned the loudest cheers of the evening.
The highlight of the evening was saved for Ebonnie herself, when she danced out onto the stage to talk about Honey Jam and its initiative. She spoke with a voice shaking with emotion and on the edge of tears, full of passion and dedication to the two decades of fantastic opportunities she has been providing to female musicians across the country. She spoke about how hard it is to stay motivated and continue with the work when you know it is in no way going to help you retire to a condo in the south of France. But seeing the love and support between all of the musicians on the showcase and the companies in the industry makes it all worth it.
Honey Jam is a truly fantastic organization that has dedicated so much time giving the talented female musicians of our country a support network to help them achieve full potential. As the night ended with all performers dancing and giving a bow, the true power behind Honey Jam was realized by the audience. So here’s to another 20 years!
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke
All gallery photos courtesy of Honey Jam and used with permission