On August 4-5, the music industry gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the first annual Crescendo Fest. Here’s our Crescendo Fest 2023 recap.
This past weekend, SHIFTER was in Halifax for the first annual Crescendo Fest. The brainchild of Micah Smith, who is also the Investment Program Community Liaison at Music Nova Scotia, with support from the team at the Light House Arts Centre and an impressive list of sponsors, Crescendo Fest celebrates Black Music Artists as they gather for music, education, networking, empowerment, and culture. According to the organizers, the free two-day event was designed to “turn up the volume on Black music artists.”
The event comes as African Nova Scotian and Black artists have struggled to get book at festivals in Atlantic Canada, despite Nova Scotia being home to the largest Indigenous Black community in Canada. As a hub for Black Canadian culture, Nova Scotia is the ideal hub for this new and burgeoning. Talking to some community leaders, there are visions of Halifax becoming “Canada’s Atlanta”, the mecca for Black culture in Canada, and a home away from home for Black Canadians. After experiencing the culture, community, hospitality, and raw talent on Nova Scotia for ourselves, they may not be far off.
The festival opened on August 4th with a two-day conference featuring talks and panels on mindset, “Creative Collaboration”, “How to export outside of Atlantic Canada”. Appearing at the conference were music industry heavyweights, including sync licensing expert and ADVANCE Canada Business Operations Lead, Michelle Allman-Esdaille, Vivian Barclay, Managing Director of Warner Chappell Music Canada; Nova Scotian music producer, My Best Friend Jacob; audio engineer, DJ, and producer Mixed By OTR; musician and music producer, Javert “Jaye” Haynes; Warner Chappell A&R, Ricardo Chung; and artist managers Katrina Lopes, Dr. Kreative, and artist Trung Hoang.
The conference continued on August 5th, as Scotian artist Shevy Price conducted an intimate interview with Canada’s Queen of Hip-hop, Michie Mee.
View this post on Instagram
Later that day, it was time for the artists to take over as some of Nova Scotia and Canada’s rising and established acts, including Nonso Amadi, Michie Mee, Maggie Andrew, Reeny Smith, and DJ Nasty Nuck, took to the outdoor stage in the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax as hundreds gathered to take in the free show.
Although being at Crescendo Fest meant missing Caribana in Toronto, the quiet and intimacy of Crescendo Fest, combined with Emancipation Day and visits to Africville and North Preston, Canada’s largest Black community, we left Nova Scotia with an even greater sense of pride in our Black heritage. Make sure to mark your calendars for 2024 and make the pilgrimage for yourself.
Follow Crescendo Fest on Instagram to stay up-to-date on future events and programming.
SHIFTER editor, Kevin Bourne, is a Toronto-based entertainment journalist focusing on music and film & TV. He was recently named a Golden Globe Awards international voter by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and a Tomatometer-Approved Critic by Rotten Tomatoes.