Lydia Persaud

This week’s featured artist is vocalist Lydia Persaud, who participated in Jazzology in 2013.

A native of Toronto, Persaud graduated from the music program at Humber College, where she performed in the Studio Jazz Ensemble and was chosen as the first female recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award in 2012.

Her musical style combines the sounds of Soul, Jazz and R&B and draws from influential artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gretchen Parlato, and Jill Scott. A busy performer, she is a member of the Soul Motivators and the O’Pears, and performs locally and throughout North America.

Lydia’s debut EP “Lost and Found” was released in 2013. The recording features all original music and includes guest appearances by guitarist Sam Dickinson and bassist Rich Brown.

Lydia took some time from her busy schedule to discuss her experience with the Jazzology program as well as her recent musical activities:

1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

My experience was fantastic. Brad made me feel extremely comfortable while I spoke about my musical influences and my initial discovery of jazz. My favourite experience was presenting my music on JAZZ.FM91. At the time I had just released my first EP, “Lost and Found,” and it was it’s first time on radio. Very exciting!

2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

My strongest memory from the Jazzology experience was learning about who I was as a musician through the questions Brad asked me. Sometimes you don’t realise the truth until you’re being asked to respond honestly to a deep question about yourself (while you’re on air!). So I discovered that I was very invested in pursing music and that I enjoyed sharing my original work with others. My funniest memory is that I brought a USB drive with the music of my influential artists on it…it didn’t work. Luckily the station had a recording of the tune that was missing and they were able to help me out. Thanks guys!

3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?

I would absolutely recommend this experience to young musicians as it was rewarding in so many ways. You learn so much about your music and your voice as a musician when you are asked to dig deep and explain what drives you and what your goals are. Jazzology made me feel extremely supported by the Toronto jazz community, a community that I would eventually be performing for. Lastly, the Jazzology program was a great opportunity for me to get my music ‘out there’ and gain further support.

4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

After participating in the Jazzology program, I felt momentum to continue creating music and working towards reaching my goals. After receiving such support I felt as though I was accountable to those following my work and I decided to keep pushing forward while working to become a better person and a stronger musician.

5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

Thank you for making a young musician like myself feel like I have a voice. While I was in school practicing and working hard, it was encouraging to know that I had support waiting for me once I graduated. I felt empowered from the generous support from JAZZ.FM91 and the Toronto Jazz community.

6) Why is music education important?

Music education is important because it gives students access to mentors, communities, and opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. If I didn’t attend Humber College I wouldn’t have learned from the amazing mentors and teachers that I had, or gained the outstanding community of musicians who I currently play music with and will continue to do so forever.

7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?

Since participating in Jazzology in 2013, I had the honour of receiving the Oscar Peterson Award from Humber College in my graduating year. After graduating I continued to perform and compose with a number of creative groups. I started my original quartet, the Lydia Persaud Group, and have been performing original music (Soul/Jazz/R&B) throughout Toronto (Poetry Jazz Cafe, Jazz Bistro, Emmet Ray) and Waterloo (The Jazz Room). I perform with the Soul Motivators, which is a nine-piece funk group that has opened for Lee Fields, Grand Master Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and continue to tour throughout Canada and the States. I also perform with the female a cappella group, the O’Pears, which has travelled to Austin, Texas, performed on FOX News Austin, and continues to tour throughout Canada.

8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring? Why?

I’m currently revisiting Lauryn Hill’s “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The passion I hear in her lyricism, voice, and open spirituality constantly inspires me. I never stray too far from my long time favourite, Stevie Wonder. The albums “Innervisions” and “Songs in the Key of Life” are always close by for his depth in harmony and soulful voice. Some of the current Jazz influences I have encountered are Gretchen Parlato’s “Lost and Found,” Brian Blade’s “Mama Rosa,” and Becca Stevens’ “Weightless.” Such strong, young artists keep jazz current and progressive.

9) What are your plans for the future?

There are many goals that I aspire to reach. One of them would be to begin touring with a musical project that is near and dear to me. I hope to one day record an album of original music with the Lydia Persaud Group and also be able to tour it throughout North America and Europe. I also have high hopes for the O’Pears as we too seek to record a full-length album in the next year and do some touring as well. Continuing to make music and sharing it with others will always make me happy. I hope to continue singing for a long time.

10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

The O’Pears:
The Soul Motivators:

11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

A big thank you to JAZZ.FM91 for the constant support! 🙂

Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.

About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project