TD Sunfest wrapped up its landmark 25th edition on Sunday, July 7th after four days of presenting more than 80 FREE-admission performances by 40 top world music & jazz groups from every corner of the globe, and attracting 600+ volunteers and a record number of visits from near and far, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, during Thursday evening’s opening ceremonies, praised the festival as “a showcase of the best of London and the best of Canada in its diversity.”
As part of its embrace of deserving national talent, the Sunfest Committee is pleased to announce that this year’s $1500 Stingray Rising Stars Award at TD Sunfest goes to the band OKAN (meaning heart or soul). The eclectic Toronto-based Afro-Cuban roots & jazz collective is co-led by Elizabeth Rodriguez (violin) and Magdelys Savigne (percussion) and complemented by some of Canada’s finest Latin and jazz players such as Ottawa pianist Miguel de Armas, who joined the ensemble this past weekend at TD Sunfest. The members of OKAN said, “Thank you very much to Sunfest and Stingray for this recognition. We’re honoured and humbled to accept a Stingray Rising Stars Award. This will be a testament to our continued commitment to the celebration and advancement of Afro-Cuban music".
Tracy Jenkins, representing OKAN’s label Lulaworld Records, was also thrilled by the group’s latest achievement: “Winning a Stingray Award has a huge impact in jump-starting the careers of emerging artists. For Canadian musicians who are struggling to get their music heard in a densely populated field, this recognition helps grab the attention of listeners, audiences and programmers. Along with their recent Independent Music Award, OKAN’s 2019 Stingray Rising Stars Award is already attracting more listeners to their new single “Mas Que Nada”. We’re so excited to see where this project goes over the next year, now that we can call it ‘The award-winning women-led Afro-Cuban roots and jazz project OKAN’”.
About the winners:
Classically trained in Cuba, both Rodriguez and Savigne were for several years members of Maqueque the award-winning, all-female Cuban jazz group led by Canadian saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett. Although the core of OKAN’s sound reflects the women’s Afro-Cuban heritage, it’s enhanced by the culturally diverse influences they have absorbed while living in Toronto. OKAN has just begun a Canada/U.S. tour which will continue into 2020.
For more information regarding the Stingray Rising Stars program, click here.