This past weekend on Saturday February 4th the Harbourfront Centre hosted the event the Known (UN) Known Artist Showcase to kick off Black History month in association with Tika Simone presents and Kumba. Showcasing up and coming Toronto talent, the night had performances from an all-female MC cypher, a grooved out jam session with soul singers Shi Wisdom and Rochelle Jordan, and a head nodding hip hop performance from rappers Spek Won and KJ.
Starting things off was Toronto MC Spek Won who came out with lots of energy and enthusiasm as he rhymed to tracks from his latest mixtape Preemo Donna. Hyping up the audience Spek kept rhyming with passion and confidence throughout his set not allowing background noise slow down his performance. Following Spek Won’s performance was artist KJ who is definitely a talent to look out for. Handling duties as rapper/producer, KJ kept the audience’s head nodding with his hard drums and break beat production. Garnering cheers from the crowd as the beat dropped to the snare and synth driven single REPEAT KJ rose the energy level as loyal fans in the crowd sang along to his infectious single
After an extended break and shuffle of musical chairs singer, Shi Wisdom hit the stage to serenade the crowd with her surprisingly soulful voice. Having not heard much about Shi Wisdom before her performance, I was intrigued to see how she would entertain the packed house. Dressed in a colourful one piece outfit with large frame glasses the vocalist came out to thunderous applause. I could tell the acquainted fans knew that the uninformed people in the audience were in for a special treat. Singing vocals over classic Biggie and Lauryn hill instrumentals, Shi wisdom held her own adding a personal twist and flare to classic songs. To finish out her set she went into the fan favorite Speak love, having the crowd sing along word for word to the catchy feel good retro song that has been getting steady play on radio and YouTube.
As the night began to wind down and the audience riding high from Shi Wisdoms performance, headliner Rochelle Jordan kept the crowd patiently waiting her arrival. As her band mates set up host Tika Simone did her best to stall as the crowd started becoming impatient with the wait. After a long winded introduction, Rochelle Jordan finally emerged from behind the curtains wearing ripped jean shorts with leggings, a faux fur vest and an afro you could spot a mile away. Diving right in to her soulful set she jumped right into standouts this is love, Shot and Here I go captivating the audience as the live band added a nice touch to her performance. I was not disappointed as Jordan entertained and kept me and the audience grooving with her enthusiasm and passion for her music. Her presence was easy and smooth as her songs reminded me of an early Amerie/Floetry sound that dominated the early 90’s.
When the show began to lose some steam was when she tried to veer off into the rock themed songs from her catalogue of music. The crowd seemed to be into it for the first helping, but as she went into her second and third the crowd just didn’t go there with her chatting amongst themselves with a few making their way to the exit for an early departure. Not being discouraged Jordan kept things moving closing out on a high making sure that anyone who left early would be disappointed and reminding everyone that was still there that she is well on her way to becoming a KNOWN artist.
photography provided by Noterlee Johnson of Praxis Unlimited