February 12 - 17, 2025

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Live Performance Series ~ Joanna Majoko

Performance 4
IG: @itsjoannamajoko

For many Canadian music fans, the name Joanna Majoko is a familiar one: the  Toronto-based vocalist, composer, and bandleader has established a reputation as one  of Canada’s most exciting young singers. Majoko has been a regular presence on the  bandstand with some of the country’s top musicians, including Jane Bunnett and  Maqueque, David Clayton-Thomas, of Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Larnell Lewis, of  Snarky Puppy. She has performed at some of the world’s biggest festivals, such as the  Montreal Jazz Festival, France’s Jazz sur son 31 Festival, and Switzerland’s  Internationales Jazz festival Bern, where she participated in a week-long residency  with Maqueque. Majoko has also been the recipient of a number of notable accolades,  including Jazz Artist of the Year at the 2019 ByBlacks People’s Choice Awards, major  grants from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council,  and FACTOR, and has been a master class artist at Humber College and the University  of Toronto.

Born in Germany to German and Zimbabwean parents, Majoko spent the majority of  her childhood in Zimbabwe, where she grew up speaking Shona and German and  participating in choirs, musicals, drum ensembles, and traditional Zimbabwean dance  groups. From Zimbabwe, Majoko moved briefly to South Africa; then, at the age of  fourteen, she and her family moved to Manitoba. It was at the University of Manitoba  that Majoko would become immersed in jazz, and would hone her skills as a vocalist,  composer, and bandleader. Later, a move to Toronto would prove to be the catalyst  for the next stage of her career. In Toronto’s rich, multi-faceted musical community,  Majoko found a steady stream of festivals, radio stations, and club programmers who  were eager to hear her voice, both as a guest vocalist and with her own successful  group. Majoko has been a fixture at the Toronto Jazz Festival, on Jazz FM, at clubs  such as The Rex and Poetry, and at major venues, including the Harbourfront Centre  and the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. In addition to  her talents as a vocalist, composer, and arranger, Majoko has expanded her skills as a  multi-instrumentalist, developing a sense of advanced rhythmic independence by  incorporating the caxixi and claves into her performance practice. This year, she adds  another important entry to her list of accomplishments: the release of her debut EP,  No Holding Back.

No Holding Back is an astonishing, powerful statement on Majoko’s personal history,  the fruitful collaborative relationships of her musical present, and her vision for the  future to come. Each of the EP’s four songs comes directly from Majoko’s lived  experiences: “Where You Are” is an acknowledgement of the need to accept oneself,  and to take responsibility for personal growth; “Bound,” about the rewards and  sacrifices inherent in family commitments; “The Way Back Home,” the EP’s third  piece, is about the ever-shifting meaning of home, and features lyrics in both English  and Shona; and “Bold,” the closer, is about the extraordinary acts of courage that we  all undertake in our ordinary lives. Ultimately, for Majoko, No Holding Back is about  one simple thing: honesty. Honesty about her passions, her fears, her past, her hopes  for the future, and, above all else, honesty about pushing through fear to share  intimate parts of experiences and personality with the world through her music.

Events in that series