Honey Jam flourished in 1995 when the need to pull the plug on sexist attitudes and biases in the music industry clashed with a movement to promote female artists. PhemPhat Entertainment Group made it their mission to provide a stage for upcoming female artists to explore their talents, to celebrate female empowerment, and to simply give women the opportunity to own the volume of their voices in an industry that has been historically male-dominated.

This years showcase was nothing short of talent when young women from around the country came together to share their passion for music of all genres, including R&B, hip hop, jazz, blues, pop, and so much more.

Tika Simone, one of Honey Jam’s very own performers back in 2008, hosted this year’s showcase and was blown away after each performance. The show featured a diversified group of 15 performers, ranging in age and ethnicity that came together to celebrate one another on an individual and musical level.

As Tika warmed up the audience, the female artists were elated with anticipation as they warmed up on the second floor of Toronto’s Mod Club before hitting the main stage.

Madison Galloway, a 16-year-old multi-talented artist, kicked off the show with her unique sound that incorporated rock, pop, and folk. She drew in the audience while playing an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a banjo wrapped around her ankle. Following Galloway’s multi-instrument performance, two vocal majors from Humber College, Jess & Tay, stole the show with their beautiful harmonies while singing an original song called ‘Shotgun Rider.’

Subsequent to the country duo, an infusion of R&B, hip-hop, and pop artists hit the stage before intermission. This included Nova Scotia’s very own hall of famer, Reeny Smith who sang a powerful ballad, while playing piano, along side her younger sister who is a talented backup vocalist.

At only 15-years-old, Ramy Zhang brought a soulful presence to the stage when she sang her rendition of Nina Simone’s classic 1965 single, ‘Feeling Good.’ With the help of the live band, Zhang’s natural talent left the audience with an unforgettable performance.

After a brief intermission, the live music continued with a performance by Chanda T. Holmes, a songwriter from Montreal with an electrifying stage presence. Wearing one of the most aesthetically pleasing outfits on stage, in a sheer black top tucked into a long, bold high waist skirt, Holmes thanked ‘Honey Jam’ for allowing her to express her art and her talent before she passed the mic to her fellow performers.

Following Amber Jay’s impressive cover of Zara Larsson’s ‘Never Forget You,’ ESMA changed up the pace with her next original single, ‘City Lights.’  ESMA put on an engaging performance that highlighted her versatility as a songwriter, rapper, and dancer. Her effortless transition from singing to rapping verse brought out her unique style as genre breaking artist.

Other artists included the bold and charismatic Vanessa Lu, the soft and sultry voice of Stella Rio, the 14-year-old pop sensation Brooke Pastuch, and the incredibly talented Sanae. After the second intermission, Winnipeg’s R&B singer Keisha Booker took the stage, while Aria Royal, Fridaee, and Toronto’s very own emerging vocalist, rapper, and DJ, Haviah Mighty, closed the show.

 

Each artist creatively brought her own style to the stage that marked this years ‘Honey Jam’ as an undeniable success. The artists shared their sound, their voices, and their individual personalities to the stage that collectively created a strong and inspirational female presence. Off stage, ‘Honey Jam’ is also providing the artists with musical workshops, vocal coaching, radio-play, consultations with Universal Music, online promotion, and the opportunity to attend the OVO Music Summit.

With an event like ‘Honey Jam’ that encourages female artists to pursue a creative career while providing women with an opportunity to confidently showcase themselves, one can only hope to see more female-centered events inspired by PhemPhat’s determined efforts in Toronto’s near future.

Written By Nastasia Delmedico