Honey Jam, Canada’s female vocalist discovery showcase, held its media launch July 22 in Toronto at host venue El Mocambo, for the second straight year.
“We’re back!” exclaimed Honey Jam founder Ebonnie Rowe from the stage. “You didn’t think a little pandemic and a zombie apocalypse would stop us, did ya? Hell no.”
The event not only introduced the 17 artists who will be showcasing at the 26th annual event, live-streamed Aug. 12, with CBC Radio’s The Block host Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe as emcee, but announced a number of forthcoming pieces, as well as a recap of some accomplishments in spite of covid.
Rowe, the recent recipient of CIMA’s Trailblazer Award, told everyone how alum Jordan Alexander has a lead in Gossip Girl and landed the cover of Cosmo; Anjulie racked up a 100 million streams; and Savannah Ré won a 2021 Juno Award and got props from Timbaland who listened to her music on Instagram.
This year’s programme is funded by Slaight Music, TD Ready Commitment, Bell Media, Ontario Creates, and FACTOR, and will feature artists from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Alberta and, for the first time, the Yukon. The online auditions, both live and submitted, were open to female-identifying talent, ages 14 to 25, in all genres.
CBC will air a Honey Jam radio special on Aug. 9 and a “Honey Jams” playlist, with songs past and current, will air live on CBC Music, starting Aug. 12, coincidentally Rowe’s birthday.
Honey Jam might’ve started 26 years ago as a showcase — Nelly Furtado was famously discovered at it — but it now presents many opportunities throughout the year to help the young women get their foot in the door.
Rowe rattled off many of them, including an upcoming trip to Nashville; a pre-recorded Flow 93.5 concert series from the Phoenix called Flow After Hours to be streamed at a later date; a workshop at Art House; a tour of Doc McKinney’s studio where The Weeknd’s House of Balloons was recorded; and attendance at SOCAN’s inaugural Creative Entrepreneur Summit.
Some of the alum, she said, also got brand deals with Adidas, Holt Renfrew and Ralph Lauren. And through their participating in Indie Week, export-ready Lu Kala and Nefe were invited to perform virtually for Brazil’s Music Pro Awards. The Artists for Social Change competition was also won by Megan De Lima.
“So we kept everybody pretty busy during the time leading up to it,” says Rowe, adding that one of her personal highlights this year was during a Q&A she did with Lennon Stella and JP Saxe for a VIP pre-Juno Awards experience for Honey Jammers. “He said, ‘I didn't know you were the lady who does Honey Jam? I love Honey Jam. Honey Jam’s a legend,’” she recounted. “I could barely speak.”