Since Matthieu DaCosta played ‘sea shanties’ on fiddles and flutes in the 17th century, people-of-colour have been coming to this land, spreading their love of music and community spirit. We can never know the lost history of the countless creative musical immigrants who came or were brought to this province over the four centuries that Black music has been developing in the colonies, but a few Black Nova Scotians have gone down in Canadian music history and some are valued local legends today in their own communities.
Whether you listen to Hip Hop. Reggae, R&B, Soul music, Jazz, Country, Rock, or even Gospel, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia have had many great Black musicians worthy of attention and praise. Many of the organizations which support these artists began as regional start-ups and some have grown into national and international institutions promoting African Nova Scotian talent. The regional and Nova Scotian governments have collaborated with some of these organizations, but many more groups are maintained and promoted by dedicated individuals who value the quality of what they are hearing and are helping to create a more profitable and equitable climate for struggling Black artists, young and old. The province’s Black immigrant population continues to flourish with growing community support, and their music traditions have attracted public curiosity. Even small Nova Scotian communities have embraced African musicians, their traditions, dance, and instruments. Talented artists across Canada are also choosing Nova Scotia and Cape Breton as their home base because of the province’s natural and human charms. In every corner of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, you will find Black musicians and their traditions. Since the stunning career of Portia White in the early 20th century, universities still continue to support and promote young musicians from the Black diaspora, and the special events held in venues across the province highlight Nova Scotians’ commitment to sharing their rich variety of Black music traditions.