The Virtuosity of Blackness (VoB) is a showcase featuring some of the best, up-and-coming performing Black artists in the city.

This presentation serves as a platform to encourage creativity, network and support emerging artists.

The showcases have featured over 35 talented performers, reached 2.7K people on social media, and sparked a lot of meaningful conversations.

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Outdoor amphitheatre at Earl Bales Park
Art Starts is proud to present The Virtuosity of Blackness 4.0 (VoB 4.0) as part of Arts in the Parks programming. This free dynamic showcase will feature some of the most talented up-and-coming Black performing artists in the GTA. VoB 4.0 celebrates everything Black, virtuous and beautiful including singers, dancers, rappers and spoken word artists. This is our fourth instalment, but the first in-person iteration of this lively showcase!
We are excited to finally be able to give our young artists an opportunity to perform for a live audience. Arts in the Parks will give these amazing performers an opportunity to get the recognition and appreciation they deserve. With local food and craft vendors, DJs and MCs, The Virtuosity of Blackness 4.0 will be an electric event that celebrates our diverse and creative community.
Come join us on Saturday, September 18th, from 12-4:30 PM at Earl Bales Park to grab some food, check out our vendors, groove to Pogi the DJ and drummer Saikou, and listen to the beats of Toronto's next generation of Black artists.


Jhyve's been a hidden gem in Toronto's music scene, 2021 CBC Searchlight winner, landed several songs on Spotify's Canada Viral Top 50 playlists, opened for the likes of Jessie Reyez, and received a JUNO Award nomination for his 2018 EP, Conversations.

Jhyve wrote, self-produced, and released Rapture--a personal album rooted in mental health and finding one's purpose through tragedy--in 2020. This album garnered over 2 million streams across all platforms and cement Jhyve's place among Toronto's R&B elite.Now, after the success of Rapture and leaving his label, an exciting new chapter in Jhyve's story has begun.


Markus Aurelyus is a Singer/Songwriter with a story to tell. Based in Scarborough, Ontario he has a unique R&B vocal style that’s influenced by Gospel, Soul, Pop and Hip-Hop. Musically influenced by artists of various genres, from Busta Rhymes to Jodeci, Donny Hathaway to Missy Elliott, he has absorbed the musicality and creativity and uses these influences to inspire.

Singing since he was a baby and writing since 2012, he has performed on stage with acts like Jully Black & DVSN. He has recorded with artists such as Serena Ryder, DVSN as well as many up -and-coming local artists such as Quincy Morales, Powerhouse Fellowship Soul Choir & Katasha J.

Whether singing an original song on stage or singing background for artists around the city, this singers’ energy and presence on stage are hard to ignore. His dream is to write music and sing for artists all over the world but also to come together with other Toronto musicians in creativity and unity to build a more revered, sought after platform for Canadian R&B/Hip-Hop content and artists.


Canadian artists born and raised in Nigeria with a love for music and a playful yet assertive lyrical disposition.

Their upbringing in Africa during the age of MTV's revolution allowed both individuals to embrace a multitude of genres, which they incorporate into their creative process. Their willingness to explore genres and embrace their vulnerability to learn, improve and take risks is what contributes to 148's unique sound.

Tudo Bem & McQueen perfectly complement each other to create a rich, melodic sound that delivers a warm tone that touches the heart and soul. Their music is unique, creates a bounce in the room, and delivers a sonic space where listeners can feel free and be inspired to strive for their own freedom.

In totality, the core principle behind 148 is based on a journey and a belief that we should all strive to be who we truly are, rather than view ourselves through the lens of others.


Rare is a Toronto born and raised creative. Who's in love with poetry, photography and film. She's very passionate about community development and strives to help others achieve their dreams. She is a new author of an art book called "Rare's World". Rare is always working on creative projects.


C-Flava! Where you can see the Flavors of the African diaspora through our story telling with dance. We are an Afro-Caribbean, all female dance group using music and dance to show the unity between various communities, because we are one.

We have performed on hundreds of stages since 2015, including Afro Fest, Pride Toronto, and RBC's Multicultural Celebration event. We have also facilitated many dance fitness workshops for schools and corporations around the GTA.

We started with a passion to take up space and debunk the common narratives around dance and black bodies. We dance because we can. We dance to appreciate our bodies and our differences. We dance to let you see our Flava. C-Flava, let your spirits be free!


Dwayne Morgan has been a professional Spoken Word artist since 1993. Over that time, Morgan has published 13 collections and 9 albums of his work, while offering performances in 18 countries internationally. Morgan is a 2013 inductee in to the Scarborough Walk of Fame, and a 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. 

As an event producer, Morgan’s company, Up From The Roots has produced hundreds of events, including When Brothers Speak, When Sisters Speak, the Toronto International Poetry Slam, and the Last Poet Standing. Morgan is also a co-founder and co-producer of the Toronto Spoken Soul Festival. 


TeePolo, born and raised in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica, started singing at a very young  age. A musical journey that began at church. She is now creating waves with her  uncompromising lyrical prowess that underlines a deep-rooted consciousness that is  evident in her music and when it reaches the ears of her audience, they take notice.  TeePolo sings from the heart and as such her lyrics are not only pure but comes from a  place of truth which resonates with many who hunger for the kind of vibration she  projects through music.  

Being exposed to the issues faced in society today plays a big part in the kind of  messages she delivers through her music. TeePolo now wishes to spread her music and  messages to all parts of the world.


Nathan Baya is an artist, spoken word poet and dancer born and raised in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood. Nathan came from humble beginnings from two Congolese parents who raised him. Drawing on his art at a young age, Baya used his artistic talent to redefine what his community means to him and the world.

He aspires to create opportunities for himself as a local artist but for other artists as well. He aims to open the door for fellow artists as he uses his work to inspire others. To him this is the true definition of following the way of his ancestors. Each one, teach one!


Versatile between Hip Hop, R&B and spoken word, SRE (pronounced as "sorry") is an artist who speaks through a different lens through his artistic approach- sonically and lyrically. Born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario, he has been inspired by the likes of Big Sean, Shiwan, J.Cole & Travis Greene.

With just releasing his project, “Beauty In Disguyse”, SRE explores self-reflection through his vulnerability. His inspiration for music continues to originates from his journey of life through past experiences and future aspirations. 


Jay Douglas first appeared on stage in Montego Bay, Jamaica when he was a youth. In over 45 years of  entertainment, Jay has developed a wide-ranging repertoire of American Blues, West Indian Rhythms,  Jazz Standards combined with fancy footwork and incredible on-stage charisma. In the early ’60s, Jay  fronted the R&B group “The Cougars” who with their skill and verve lit up the city of Montreal as well as  Toronto’s Yonge Street nightclubs in the late ’70s with Soul Funk and Reggae. Over the past 10 years, Jay  has performed around the world, and at annual Toronto events such as the Beaches Jazz Festival, Jerk  Fest, Canadian National Exhibition, Yonge and Dundas Square, and a Taste of Lawrence. 

Jay was proclaimed winner of NOW Magazine’s Toronto’s “Best R&B Act” in 2006, and “Male Reggae  Vocalist of the Year” at the Annual Toronto Reggae Awards in 2007. During this time Seattle,  Washington-based promotions company, “Light in the Attic”, made Jay their band leader for the “From  Jamaica to Toronto” concert launch at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto in July 2006. This successful  show was successfully led by Jay in both Vancouver and Montreal. Jay was nominated for “Reggae  Recording of the Year” at the 2012 JUNO Awards and was the recipient of the “G98.7 FM Entertainment  Award” at the Harry Jarome awards that same year. In 2019 Jay released his single “Jah Children” featuring Jamaican dancehall deejay and icon, General Trees, and mixed by Canadian dub and reggae artist, Dubmatix. The single was also nominated for a 2020 JUNO Award for “Reggae Recording of the  Year”.


Michie Mee is known within the music industry for her unique rap style of combining reggae and dancehall with hiphop. Many successful artists have followed in Michie's footsteps using this gifted technique. With over two decades in the entertainment industry, the Juno nominated rapper and actress is not only an inspiration for female musicians, but also all artists nationwide. 

Aside from her life as an entertainer, Michie is also a mother who makes it one of her duties to keep involved with today's youth. Knowing first hand the twists and turns artists often face in entertainment, Michie is an avid supporter of children striving to achieve a good education. Michie herself left university after her music career began to soar and has always spoken openly about the importance of education. Michie continues to enhance her abilities to attract diverse roles on television and film. She was featured in the 2011 CBC hip hop documentary "Love, Props and the T. Dot," this trailblazer's saga still continues. Michie Mee's reign as Queen is far from over. 

Michie is the 1st Canadian Hip Hop Recording Artist to sign an American Major Record deal and is the recipient of the 2012 DJ Stylus Hall of Fame Award, 2013 CUMC Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014 Black Canadian Award for Best Female Rap Act, and made History in 2014 winning the Toronto Arts Council 'Roy Thomson Hall Award' of $10K. The Roy Thomson Hall Award recognizes creative, performing, administrative, volunteer, or philanthropic contributions to Toronto's musical life by a person, ensemble or organization.

As well as winning many community based awards and promoting the "On This Mic" Showcases a.k.a the 'Scorpio Bash' in Toronto launched in Jamaica 2019 with the support of the Jamaican Music Conference in which she sits on the advisory Board. Michie is also a part of the Generation Hip Hop Global Board based in Brazil , and sits on the HipHop BLVD Advisory Board in NYC. Michie now adds Author to her resume with a major book publishing company TBA. Still active in the acting world the Actra Union actor has secured small roles in film and tv being filmed in Canada TBA. Ms. Mee is the CEO of MBM Publishing Inc /Sille Publishing. and Track & Field Ent./DetroitDigital/Believe, looking forward to NEW music !! Bahdgyal’s Revenge OUT NOW #EVERYWHERE!!!


When people arrive at Earl Bales Amphitheatre they will be greeted by the Arts Starts team who will distribute free masks and provide hand sanitizer. The team will seat each audience member and ensure that only individuals from the same group are seated together. We suggest that everyone keep their masks on during the performances, but we encourage applause and cheers!
  The amphitheatre will be filled at 50% capacity so come early to make sure you get a seat at one of the only live performances of the summer! Further information will be provided at the event. We look forward to seeing you there!






The Virtuosity of Blackness Moving Beyond Black History Month

Just a year ago, The Virtuosity of Blackness took stage in the Art Starts studio. Since then, the idea has evolved and not to mention, shifted due to the pandemic.

As we get ready to release VoB 3.0, our latest blog looks at the origins of the virtual showcase, the ways in which it supports emerging, Black artists, the amazing people involved, and its plans for the future.


Jamaican Gleaner: The virtuosity of blackness with Art Starts

After being an art facilitator for Art Starts, Nicole Pẽna naturally segued into the role of Program Director.

In this article, Nicole discusses her vision for the neighbourhood cultural centre, its current programs and offerings and the impact of the talent showcase: The Virtuosity of Blackness.


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