Emancipation Day 2022

Presented by the TD Niagara Jazz Festival and supported by TD and the City of St. Catharines.

A FREE livestream concert event bursting with incredible Black artists from Niagara and beyond.  This concert is available through the TD Niagara Jazz Festival’s YouTube and Facebook pages.


To watch our 2021 Emancipation Day presentation, CLICK HERE.

The Abolition of Slavery Act became law on August 1, 1834.

It was the end of a long struggle for the legal right to ban human slavery. In particular it ushered in the end of slavery throughout the British Empire, and people of African descent could finally celebrate a new found freedom in Canada.  It also meant the Underground Railroad became a lifeline for many freedom seekers following the North Star. Hundreds found their way to Canada, and to St. Catharines – thanks to the courage and resilience of Harriet Tubman and her many helpers.

In 1924 the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) initiated an ambitious picnic event – the reason was to celebrate freedom. And for the next fifty years the first Thursday of every August became known as the Emancipation Day Picnic. Sometimes known as “Maids Day Off” the Emancipation Day Picnic attracted  visitors from all over Ontario, and as far away as Virginia and Tennessee. It was a  day of family, friends, food, music, parades, singing and dancing.

The tradition was carried by local families for decades.

In the spirit of celebration, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival is proud to be a part of such an auspicious event, honouring Black History, and the tireless courage of so many ancestors.

Join TD Niagara Jazz Festival on Sunday August 1 with a day-long offering of music, spoken word, art, songs, Black History, and African wisdom.


Click on a performance below to see additional information. Schedule is subject to change.

Featured Artists

Keturah & Jonathan Morris

Keturah was born into a family that was birthed into ministry and music. She has had the privilege to grow up experiencing music in the church sphere all of her life. This ultimately helped develop the gift and passion for music in her life so much so that she began utilizing it in and out of church. She is the Musical director at her church in which she directs the different choirs and leads Praise and Worship. She has also had the privilege to sing for and with several recording artists, perform live at Massey Hall for thousands, perform at charity events, weddings and much more. But with all that, her heart and love for music will always flow back to God for he is the one who makes it all possible.

Thomas Nelson

Thomas Nelson is a bassist and vocalist currently located in the Niagara Region. He has performed in clubs, concert halls and festivals across Canada, Europe and the U.S., including many  CBC television and radio shows.

Throughout a five decade  career, he’s performed with some of the best in the  business on stage and in the recording studio. As bassist in the late Colleen Peterson’s band he opened nine evenings at Toronto’s Massey Hall for Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Thomas has performed alongside top Canadian artists like Toney Springer (Wild T), Rick Taylor, Willie P. Bennet, and Mark Haines to name a few.

As bandleader for seven years, he’s had the distinct honour and pleasure of contracting numerous talented local musicians from the Golden Horseshoe The Thomas Nelson Band has performed for audiences in packed local venues, including the TD Niagara Jazz Festival, with Brad Krauss, Randy Stirtzinger, Stan Szymkow and Graham Lear.

Thomas’ strong ‘in the pocket’ bass style combined with his sassy vocal delivery of songs from the Blues, Funk, Jazz, RnB and Soul, song books is unique, fun and entertaining.

Faith Amour

Raised in Toronto church and community choirs, after studying classical voice and piano, organ and composition, Faith Amour found that her innate spontaneity, creativity, and outside the box nature drew her straight to jazz. Today Faith is an award-winning recording artist and songwriter steadily emerging on the North American jazz scene. Her warm vocals and charming personality brought audiences into her world of pure musical delight with her multilingual (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian) debut album “Bright Eyes”. It won Best Jazz CD and Best Jazz Vocal at the New Mexico Music Awards. She has sung in the presence of the First Lady of Guyana, and former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, shared the stage with Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman as a member of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and performed alongside Canada’s own Rich Brown, Dave Restivo and Robi Botos. She recently made her European and New York City club debuts, and has paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with shows across Canada and the U.S. Her ongoing Divas tribute series includes Nancy Wilson and Nina Simone. She is in demand as a composer, conductor and as a featured vocalist for clubs and theatres, jazz orchestras, corporate and private events. She’s been a Raelette for a travelling Ray Charles tribute, and her Toronto theatre debut was in “The Reality of the Impossible Dream”. She released her live jazz album “Classics Live” Fall of 2020.

Through it all, she aims to inspire those she meets with a message of love and boundless hope for the future.

Visit Faith at her website: faithamourjazz.com

Le Trio Parisien

‘Le Trio Parisien’ is made up of accomplished Niagara musicians who share Juliet’s love for French music.

Juliet formed this band with Peter Shea in 2009 and they have just recently finished their first album recording: ‘C’est Si Bon’.

Juliet lived in Paris, France for 13 years (1987 – 2000) so she has a deep connection with the French culture and calls Paris her 2nd home. This connection comes through as she vocalizes to the French classics.

After having lived in France, Juliet moved to the Niagara region in 2002 when she was hired to perform as an actress and singer for the prestigious Shaw Festival. She did 2 seasons with Shaw and has made Niagara her home ever since. She loves the Niagara region and is proud to call it home.

Sammy Jackson

JUNO Award-winning artist Sammy Jackson is an emerging Jamaican-Canadian singer-songwriter recognized for her distinct sound, fusing elements of Jazz, R&B and Pop. Growing up, she regularly found opportunities to perform and develop as a musician, which led her to pursue a Bachelor of Music in Performance specializing in Jazz Voice from the University of Toronto. During her education, she studied with accomplished vocalists including Alex Samaras, Christine Duncan and Sienna Dahlen.

As a rising presence in Toronto and Niagara, Sammy has performed at notable venues and events such as the Glenn Gould Studio, Jazz.FM91’s One-Stop Jazz Safari, The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar, Luminato, and TIFF Bell Lightbox to name a few. In addition to performing and leading her own band, Sammy has shared the stage with renowned musicians such as Barbra Lica, Robi Botos, Rich Brown, and Larnell Lewis.

In 2021, Sammy Jackson’s latest release With You won a Juno Award for “Vocal Jazz Album of the Year”. This project is a 5-track EP featuring original compositions in collaboration with vocalist and songwriter Jacqueline Teh. It showcases music that is honest and relatable while exploring themes of vulnerability, broken relationships, and love. Sammy’s distinct approach to songwriting captivates a diverse audience through her blend of Jazz, R&B, and Pop. Additionally, With You features some of Canada’s most outstanding musicians, including Tom Fleming, Chris Pruden, Mark Godfrey and Ian Wright.

Shine Roc and the Rebels Vibration

“Shine Roc & The Rebels Vibration” is a selection of some of the finest reggae musicians of Canada’s reggae industry. These musicians are superbly experienced, well known and established in the reggae genre across the world. They have toured with popular artists such as Freddie McGregor, Toots & The Maytals, Luciana, and Bushman just to mention a few.

The Rebels Vibration Band members frequently perform in festivals and clubs around Canada. They have generated a huge fan base in the reggae music industry. The crew gel well as they produce a very loving and high energy atmosphere whenever they get together.

Natural Elements with Jillian Mendez

Natural Elements with Jillian Mendez features Jillian Mendez on lead vocals, Bryan Humphreys on drums and vocals, Roger Williams on bass guitar, Tony Barrett on guitar, John Pagnotta on saxophone and vocals, and Dylan Bell on keyboards and vocals.

Audiences are always amazed at the singing abilities of Jillian Mendez; she’s dynamic and soulful. So too is the performance quality of the band, with their vocal harmonies and infectious grooves. The Natural Women Show celebrates the classic Soul songs of Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan.

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