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Canadian musical excellence was on display recently at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion. In celebration of the then upcoming Grammy Awards and to create a space for New Yorkers to become more familiar with some of Canada’s hottest musical acts, the Canadian Consulate hosted an evening of drinks, light food and performances by R&B singer Daniel Caesar, rock duo Dear Rouge, pop/electro trio Neon Dreams, and alternative R&B/trip-hop artist Iskwe. The event was attended by not only singers but also music fans, songwriters, music producers, publishers and an assortment of those otherwise working in the music industry.
For Caesar, who performed the catchy R&B ballad “Best Part” featuring H.E.R, the evening was particularly special. He was there as a Grammy nominee, having been nominated for Best R&B Album of the Year, and his song “Get You” was in the running for Best R&B Performance. Of course, Caesar was there with his squad of fellow Canadians by way of Toronto. One of them, Savannah Re, was unable to stop smiling. The young, aspiring R&B and pop singer said, “We’re all from the same place and he’s nominated for two Grammys and we’re all so proud of him. We just came from LA and we just wanted to come out to this event and support. Danny is doing something that hasn’t been done before. The type of music that he makes, the type of music that he sings, the fact that he is completely independent. These things have never happened before, especially out of Toronto. He is making his own way.”
The evening was the brainchild of Phyllis Yaffee, Canada’s consul general in New York, and her team. Yaffe made a huge mark in Canadian media before becoming consul general. About the evening, she explained, “We knew the Grammys were coming to New York. We knew we wanted to do something really special, so this was a way of introducing these acts to opportunities in New York. It was really a team effort.”
Interestingly, the person who brought the house down with his performance wasn’t a musician at all, but documentary filmmaker and activist Michael Moore (“Bowling for Columbine,” “Where to Invade Next”). Moore, a hockey fan who says he was invited by a friend who works at the Canadian Consulate, gamely took to the stage to lead the room in a rousing rendition of the Canadian national anthem. Although he isn’t likely to get an offer of a record deal anytime soon, it was an endearing performance. Afterward, somewhat tongue in cheek, he told the Amsterdam News that he “dedicated that to Colin Kaepernick.” Moore was somewhat tight-lipped about his current project but shared, “I’m working on my next film right now. It’s about what’s going on right now. How did we get here, and how do we get out of it?”
All of the acts were amazing. Husband and wife Drew and Danielle McTaggart, with their synth rock band, punctuated their standout performance with a bit of sartorial distinction. Danielle McTaggart not only knocked everyone’s socks off with her impressive talent, but perfectly coordinated her outfit with her tambourine, which she decorated with aqua-colored tassels.
Multitalented Saint Cassius was also in attendance. In addition to being a music producer, he owns a record studio in Manhattan and Vinyl Crown Music Publishing. Saint Cassius is responsible for producing Omari Hardwick’s (“Power”) spoken word album and wrote Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.” Rapper Remy Ma has also recorded at his studio. Caesar is special to Saint Cassius because, as he says, “My studio is predominantly analog based, which is live instrumentation and old-school tape machines. [Caesar’s] sound coincides with the type of music that inspires me.”
He isn’t just impressed with Caesar but with Canadian musicians as a whole. He remarked, “There’s a ton of people who are talented there. There are a lot of amazing things happening with Canadian music.”