Nuits d’Afrique concerts
Productions Nuits d’Afrique – the good folks who run Montréal’s iconic Club Balattou and the summertime Festival International Nuits d’Afrique – presents six special concert events during BHM:
Charismatic Afro-Brazilian vocalist Fabiana Cozza headlines Club Balattou on February 3, while Haitian artist Jonas Attis brings Haitian folklore, reggae, hip-hop and pop to the same venue on February 5.
Juno Award-winning vocalists Tapa and Montréal’s famed Queen of the Blues Dawn Tyler Watson perform together for the first time in their much-anticipated Blues on Blues concert at La Tulipe on February 8.
Senegalese singer and multi-instrumentalist Cheikh Ibra Fam combines his Afropop with hip-hop, reggae, funk and soul at Le National on February 16, while singer-songwriter Senaya blends African and Caribbean rhythms with jazz, funk, blues, folk, R&B and gospel into her SoûlKreôl at Le Lion d’Or on February 23.
WorldWildSoundSystem will then perform their West African reggae at Le Ministère on February 25.
Lectures LOGOS Readings is a series of monthly multicultural readings hosted by award-winning author H. Nigel Thomas and renowned human rights advocate Maguy Métellus at the UNIA Hall in Little Burgundy. For their February 13 BHM edition, guest readers are Jason Selman, Stéphane Martelly, Jean-Yves Métellus, Ceta Gabriel, Fabrice Koffy and H. Nigel Thomas, followed by an open mic.
On the big screen
Directed by Sophie Huber, the documentary Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes chronicles the pioneering label that gave voice to some of the finest jazz artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Screens at the Cinéma du Musée on February 2 and 5. Original English version with French subtitles.
The feature-length documentary The Myth of the Black Woman (Le mythe de la femme noire) deconstruct stereotypes linked to the image of Black women. Opens at Cinéma du Parc on February 10. Original multilingual version, subtitled in English.
Over at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, The Blaxploitation Years film series screens 15 iconic Blaxploitation films, including Coffy, Foxy Brown, Cleopatra Jones, Shaft, Superfly, Blackula and Buck and The Preacher, starring such Black Hollywood trailblazers as Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree to Diahann Carroll and Harry Belafonte. Runs to February 21. For the full schedule, click here.
Fade to Black
The Festival Fade to Black (Fondu au Noir) presents Montreal Black Film Festival founder Fabienne Colas having a public one-on-one French-language discussion with Dominique Anglade, former Deputy Premier of Québec and former leader of the Québec Liberal Party. Ticketed event at the Grande Bibliothèque on February 9. Click here for more Fade to Black festival programming from February 8 to 12.
The Orchestre classique de Montréal presents the world premiere of La Flambeau chamber opera by Haitian-Québec composer David Bontemps and Haitian librettist and playwright Faubert Bolivar who draw on West African mythology and Haitian Vodou traditions to explore corruption, misogyny and the abuse of power. Sung by a cast of distinguished Black opera singers at Pierre-Mercure Hall on February 7.
The Comedy Nest nightclub hosts The Underground Comedy Railroad, the first-ever all-Black comedy tour in Canada, on February 19. The annual tour has traveled across Canada during BHM since 2012. This year’s show in Montréal features hilarious stand-up comics Rodney Ramsey, Daniel Woodrow, Kevin Christopher, Tamara Shevon, George Rivard, Alan Shane Lewis and Keesha Brownie. Click here for tickets.
The headdresses of Africa
Collector and Afromusée founder Guy Mushagalusa Chigoho takes a deeper look at the African headdresses on display in the exhibition Headdresses from Around the World, The Antoine de Galbert Collection, during a special talk February 9 on-site at the Pointe-à-Callière museum in Old Montréal. Click here for tickets.
Gospel music stars
Founded in 1994 by “Britain’s godmother of gospel” – conductor Karen Gibson – The Kingdom Choir has performed alongside Elton John, Barbra Streisand and the Spice Girls. The program will include interpretations of traditional gospel classics as well as contemporary pop music, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on February 19.
Legendary Montréal party promoter Manclaudy hosts the free-admission FRKY || BLK || Listen “Black Heritage” dance party at La Sala Rossa from 7 to 10 pm on February 4, featuring nine renowned non-Black DJs (including Montréal nightlife legend Plastik Patrik) spinning their Black inspirations, followed by a ticketed Chicago house, Detroit techno and disco FRKY BLK After Party (10 pm to 3 am) featuring legendary DJs Nick Holder, Moka, Bugo and Andy Williams.
Black Theatre Workshop
Established in 1971, Montréal’s pioneering Black Theatre Workshop teamed up with Tarragon Theatre to co-produce Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers, the award-winning play about a 17-year-old Black teenager in a hoodie and his experience in the afterlife after violence takes his life away. Inspired by the real-life murder of Trayvon Martin, this poignant tale about what it means to be a young Black man in North American society was written by Dora Award-winning playwright and actor Makambe K. Simamba who also stars in this production. What emerges is a prayer for the bereaved and a proclamation that Black Lives Matter. Runs February 22 to 26 at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts.
Beyond Black History Month, the 39th annual Festival international de cinéma Vues d’Afrique runs from April 21 to 30. The festival screens international features, documentaries and shorts by filmmakers from across Africa and the African diaspora.
Check out the complete Black History Month schedule at www.moishistoiredesnoirs.com.
Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.