By GAC Staff member Preetam Sengupta

Each month we’ll feature a video from one of Guelph’s musical community members. If you’re a musician and have a video you’d like us to feature, please send a YouTube link our way along with a short bio.

This past weekend, Guelph’s beloved Hillside Festival was back with another edition of Hillside Homeside with virtual performances and workshops, but the community was treated to a few “Pop-up Concerts” over the course of the weekend as well, where performers were back to playing in front a live audience (with COVID safety protocols in place). Included in those pop-up concerts was a version of the perennial fan-favourite at the festival, the “Sunday Morning Gospel Session”. One of the artists featured on that stage (and actually one of the songs she shared on Sunday) is the subject of this month’s video. Joni NehRita is a Guelph artist, music educator, and facilitator whose work (and music) covers important topics like race and social justice, which you will hear in today’s featured song called “Let It Burn” from her upcoming album Love & Protest. The album is set to be accompanied by a mini-documentary series whose first episode was released just a week ago. Joni describes the album as being similar to a vinyl record, where there are two distinct sides. One “side” features love songs and the other showcases protest songs; apparently it’s not just a clever album title. Being able to juxtapose those lighter and heavier subjects in a way that works on one album is no simple task for an artist, and for Joni to take on the additional role of producer, it adds another level of complexity, vulnerability, and confidence to the work. You’ll hear all of that within an all-too-familiar narrative in “Let It Burn”, and we encourage you to not only listen, but reflect on Joni’s message.

Joni NehRita

Jamaican-Canadian artist Joni NehRita writes songs about unity, hope and social justice. Her jazz-tinged brand of soul is infused with rhythms & sounds from her Afro-Caribbean background. A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and arranger, she has a gift for writing infectious, well-crafted songs that are deeply personal. This year NehRita releases her 4th full length album, “Love & Protest” which is a marked step further toward global roots/world music but keeps her distinctive gift for writing accessible songs that groove in tact.  Love & Protest explores the juxtaposition between love being “the answer” and fire/anger being the fuel to protest, to question, to be the change. The new album finds NehRita switching from keys to guitar as her main instrument and has relies heavily on percussion rhythms found in Caribbean & Brazilian music.
Visit Joni NehRita’s website to learn more about her, and also to listen to the new Love & Protest album in its entirety. Also, please remember to support all of your favourite local artists when Bandcamp Friday returns on August 6th, where our friends at Bandcamp will once again forego their share of sales revenue, passing more money along to artists. In the meantime, we invite you to open your ears and minds to Joni NehRita’s notion to “Let It Burn”.

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