Drake and The Weeknd may be the two biggest artists Canada’s ever birthed, but to find success they had to leave the country. There’s a reason for that: Making it as a Black artist within our borders can feel like a Sisyphean task, thanks to systemic barriers that have remained in place for decades.
For a glimpse of what we mean, look no further than the glaring lack of diversity in music industry boardrooms, or the fact that Black-owned spaces across Canada—from radio stations to festivals—are seemingly always under siege. Consider: it took 12 years of lobbying, protests, and fundraising for Toronto to get its first Black-owned commercial radio station, FLOW 93.5FM. Even after all that, the station was eventually bought out when it couldn’t compete with massive media conglomerates, and the city’s only remaining Black-owned station, G98.7FM went up for sale last year.
Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe, host of CBC Music’s new weekday radio show, The Block, is well aware of this. Having worked in broadcasting for the last 20 years, she’s witnessed the lack of opportunities for Black Canadian talent firsthand. “It just makes me extremely sad to know of so many artists who have so much potential that might be somewhere different if they had the support of radio in their own country,” she tells us.
While streaming may seem like the listening medium du jour, radio still remains an impactful platform for communication in Canada. The Block is leveraging national airwaves in order to raise marginalized voices, celebrating Black artists and genres of Black origin. Tetteh-Wayoe plans on playing music spanning all genres and eras, while introducing rising Black Canadian artists to listeners across the country—and, hopefully, to one another too. “I feel like this will be a real opportunity to unify a lot of [Canada’s] regions,” she says. “I hope it’s the magic dust that creates the perfect environment for artists to find each other easier. An artist in Edmonton might hear about an artist in Halifax and they can reach out to each other on social media and pass beats back and forth. Maybe something beautiful will happen.”
In hopes of encouraging the spread of said magic dust, we asked Tetteh-Wayoe to make us a list of 11 Rising Black Canadian Artists You Should Know.