Silence Presents Artists As Activists: Freedom Singer

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46 Essex Street

Guelph, ON N1H 3K8


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Silence Presents Artists as Activists: Freedom Singer

Doors at 7:30 pm, Concert at 8pm

Tickets $20 at Eventbrite.ca


A Project: Humanity Production Embarks on a Fall 2017 National Tour

– Cross Canada Tour featuring JUNO nominee Khari Wendell McClelland,

JUNO nominee Tanika Charles and acclaimed Vancouver guitarist Noah Walker –

– Performances in Vancouver, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Thousand Islands, Windsor and Edmonton –

“A moving musical journey along the Underground Railroad...

with a Hamilton-esque twist: [the songs] are reinvented

as hip-hop, funk and soul numbers...A Must-See”


(Wednesday, June 14, 2017 – Toronto ON) Following the acclaimed world premiere of Freedom Singer during Black History Month 2017, Project: Humanity is proud to bring this “must-see” theatre production to Vancouver, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Gananoque, Windsor and Edmonton.

Co-created by JUNO nominee Khari Wendell McClelland and Project: Humanity’s Andrew Kushnir, Freedom Singer is a rare musical journey through the history of the Underground Railroad and the songs that carried freedom seekers northward to Canada. Performed by McClelland along with JUNO nominee Toronto soul singer Tanika Charles and acclaimed Vancouver guitarist Noah Walker, the production will reach six more cities September through October 2017.

In 2015 McClelland retraced the steps of his great-great-great grandmother Kizzy and discovered the songs that likely accompanied her and thousands of others as they escaped U.S. slavery (as documented by journalist Jodie Martinson on CBC's The National and Tapestry). In sharing this music – which are reinvented through contemporary styles like hip hop, funk and soul – Khari is brought face to face with his own "unrecorded" heritage, and the realities and myths of one of our quintessential historic narratives: the Underground Railroad. Freedom Singer premiered in Toronto in February 2017 and then toured to Regina, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal and Ottawa.


“A sweet reminder of our history…"

“There are challenges translating a research project to the stage, but Khari Wendell McClelland finds a sweet spot.”


Freedom Singer is a documentary-style piece of theatre that blends McClelland’s original music with 1850s freedom songs, verbatim interview excerpts, and first-hand stories. It tells of McClelland’s journey to find the music that would have accompanied his great-great-great-grandmother, an escaped slave who walked to Ontario, lost her legs to the cold, had two children with a British-Canadian, then returned to Detroit after emancipation.

The show is directed by Andrew Kushnir of Project: Humanity, a Toronto theatre company that uses journalistic research and verbatim texts to explore social issues. (e.g., The Middle Place looked at youth shelters, and Small Axe, homophobia.)

“Khari Wendell McClelland took us to church!”


“You can physically feel this music right now as it may have been felt in the 1800s. History becomes animated; history becomes a verb instead of a noun. These were songs of survival for those singing them – for those who escaped, but also for those who endured or succumbed to the tyranny of slavery. They are songs of dignity forged in the face of inconceivable indignity. They stir the collective memory, the collective imagination -- and they need to live on,” says Kushnir.

“Freedom Singer asks intelligent, open-ended questions and balances them

with emotional musical moments and McClelland’s indisputable musical talent.”


McClelland adds, “What I’ve come to realize more and more is how important this look back is right now, with the number of people who are displaced through war, environmental degradation, systemic oppression and poverty. I want to ask the audience – what is our role in this time? We often see the Underground Railroad as a defining narrative of Canada, the realization of hope, a safe place from tyranny. I want us to investigate our commitment to liberty and freedom today.”

Recommended for ages 13+

Canadian Tour Dates: Presented By:

Sept 21-24 Gananoque, ON Thousand Islands Playhouse

Sept 28 Guelph, ON Silence

Sept 29 Windsor, ON The Windsor Symphony

Oct 1 Dawson City, YT Klondike Institute of Art and Culture

Oct 4 Whitehorse, YT Yukon Arts Centre

Oct 7-15 Vancouver, BC Urban Ink Productions

Oct 26-29 Edmonton, AB Citadel Theatre

Promotion Video by STATURE FILMS: http://bit.ly/FS-TourVid


Facebook: Project: Humanity

Twitter: @Prjct_Humanity

Instagram: @prjct_humanity

Hashtag: #FreedomSinger

For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Cortney Harkin, Director of Marketing





About Freedom Singer

Co-created by Khari Wendell McClelland and Andrew Kushnir with Jodie Martinson

Directed by Andrew Kushnir


Khari Wendell McClelland

Tanika Charles

Noah Walker

Set and costume design Joanna Yu

Lighting design Oz Weaver

Sound design Debashis Sinha

Stage manager Emilie Aubin

Research dramaturge Jodie Martinson

About Khari Wendell McClelland

Khari Wendell McClelland is a diversely talented and ever-evolving musician. Originally from Detroit, Khari has become a darling on the Vancouver music scene with reviewers lauding his performances as a clever mix of soul and gospel. Khari’s songwriting crosses genres and generations, joyfully invoking the spirit of his ancestors who straddled the United States-Canada border in efforts to escape slavery and discrimination. His music draws from this rich history, integrating the rhythms and folklore of early African-Americans with contemporary sounds and stories of struggle.

His debut solo album "Fleeting Is The Time" is fresh off the press and it is a brilliant body of work. Some songs make you want to cry, others make you want to dance, while many make you want to do both. A JUNO-nominated performer, Khari frequently performs with celebrated gospel trio The Sojourners and in 2016 opened as a solo act for Andra Day and Ms. Lauryn Hill.

About Project: Humanity

Project: Humanity (PH) creates original and innovative socially-minded theatre. Founded in 2004, the company is committed to joining and advancing vital community conversations, and finding better ways of listening to marginalized individuals and groups – especially young people. Our fusion of artistic excellence and a rigorous social justice mandate resonates with many communities outside of the performing arts; PH presents across the globe at conferences, high schools, universities and youth shelters.

PH is one of Canada's leading developers of Verbatim Theatre: transforming original interview transcripts into drama. Our play The Middle Place (constructed from interviews done in a youth shelter in Rexdale) has had over 100 performances, played at Theatre Passe Muraille/Canadian Stage, toured nationally, and received the 2011 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Production. Our next verbatim piece, Small Axe was named among the Top 10 Shows of 2015 by both the Globe and Mail and The Torontoist.

About baselineMUSIC

baselineMUSIC, a Toronto based progressive music management and marketing company, was established in June 2009. Associated artists include Alex Cuba, Peter Katz, Manafest, Sarah MacDougall, JP Cormier, Hermitage Green, Royal Wood, Chris Assaad, Noah Derksen, Jay Pollmann, Kim Beggs, Preetam Sengupta and others. The artists at baselineMUSIC have received numerous accolades, including Grammy, JUNO, WCMA, ECMA, PEI Music and Canadian Screen awards.

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