YUSRA Benefit Concert - February 10, 2017

Image credit: CBC

Last weekend saw a benefit concert at the Rialto Theatre for the families of the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting, where a group of Canadian DJs, singers, and rappers came together in support of a very good cause. The audience raised nearly $5,000 through tickets, donations, and merchandise according to Dan Seligman, the creator-director of Pop Montreal.   

Yassin Alsalmad (also known by his stage name, Narcy) is a professor at Concordia and professional rapper well-known in the Montreal scene. He was able to bring together a group of friends and artists in support of others in this time of need. Narcy put a lot of work into organizing the event, using his connections in the music industry to pull it all off in only a matter of a few short weeks.

As a professor at Concordia, Narcy does more than just teach in one of the school's largest classrooms. His course is an interactive analysis of culture and music today using hip-hop as a lens. He brings in guest speakers who share their stories, creative skills, and wisdom with students. The day before the benefit concert, Deejay NDN and Bear Witness came to talk to a class at Concordia, explaining their experiences growing up in North America in indigenous culture and how that has helped them to grow the electric powwow movement in Ottawa.  

Both members of A Tribe Called Red were quick to respond to the call for creators who would be willing to offer their performance to the fundraiser. They’ve collaborated on the song “R.E.D.” with Yassin Bey and Black Bear, and the music video has been nominated for a Juno Award for video of the year. Narcy and A Tribe Called Red spoke in the class about how their studio time together (one of the longest they’ve ever had) has provided them an opportunity to reflect deeply and experiment with their music. 

A Tribe Called Red's video for "R.E.D." featuring Yasiin Bey, Narcy & Black Bear.

Narcy’s energy on stage at the Rialto Theatre shone bright, much like the vibrant energy he brings to his classes. He had the whole audience singing along.

The crowd continued to buzz while the next peformer, Lunice, made his grand entrance. His set maintained the energy of the audience with a trapped-out bass-heavy selection. Lunice came out to the front centre stage to dance multiple times. His contagious charisma really set the mood before the final act.

DJ NDN and Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red headlined the night, bringing a much more electronic sound to the room. The change of genre fit well as the night drew on and the crowd started to spread out and dance. The two DJs went back and forth mixing heavy electro, aboriginal rhythms, and some old school Diplo. NDN’s daughter June was also dancing on stage, attracting the crowd’s attention and adding to the excitement. 

The entire night saw a blend of different music from talented artists who work in a variety of creative fields, further proving that music can ultimately bring together a large group of people in support of a positive cause. Organizing fundraiswe events and benefit shows can be a tiring job, especially when the scale is large. However, it was great to see how many people came out to the event and to see so many musicians using their time and energy to perform for others in support of a great cause. It seems to be exactly what the world needs more of.