“Music has always been a platform for communication and self expression. Sounds travel long distances therefore allowing the lines of communication to be delivered. Music has also been a platform for expression whether it be social awareness or just plain fun. In my opinion, music is its own language that bridges people of all cultures together through rhythms and harmony.”
Meet Albert Earl Lamons Jr. Better known as DJ Alibaba. Household name in the local community, self-taught DJ, philanthropist, and self-claimed “Ameri-Canadian” living in Surrey, BC. Originally from Vallejo, California (in the San Francisco Bay Area), Alibaba was raised in a gospel church which provided him with his first exposure to music from an early age. From there the rest was history. He started playing the piano at age seven, and then continued on to the clarinet and saxophone in the school band. Outside of church and the band room, he was too, exposed to a multitude of music in the California scene. I “listened to some of the best DJ’s in North America who produced mixed music shows for stations such as KDIA AM, KSOL FM, and KMEL FM.” And when asked what his first album ever bought? “Songs, In the Key of Life” by Earth, Wind & Fire in 1976. “It’s still one of my all time favourite albums.” “I have a very eclectic taste in music. I love Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Parliment, Bootsy, Michael Jackson, Prince, Janet Jackson, ACDC, Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain, so some might say I’m confused!” “Music has been in my blood from day one!”
DJ Alibaba enlisted into the military as a young adult and was stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was here that he first made contact with Canada, when he and his fellow airmen in the Air Force would drive up to Winnipeg, Manitoba to go to Social events. It was at these events where he quickly realized that the current DJ’s of the time did not know how to beatmatch and mix songs together properly. “[It was this and] my previous experiences from California [that] inspired me to become a DJ, which was the catalyst in developing the DJ skills I have today.”
Upon numerous visits to and from Winnipeg, he later chose to make the move up north after leaving the US Air Force, and he officially received his landed immigrant status in 1985. It was there in Winnipeg that he started his DJ career with the prominent DJ Promoter, Grand Master Funk – whom he originally met at an After Party, but then later, formally met through his wife, who happened to be good friends with him and his inner circle at the time. The Grand Master himself dubbed him the DJ name “DJ Alibaba”. As Alibaba says, “Al Lamons was born in the States and DJ Alibaba was born in Canada.”
Let’s remember that at the time when he began DJing in 1985, there were no DJ schools, no music streaming platforms, and the internet was not the main source for learning new skills. DJ Alibaba had to learn hands on. After a few years establishing his craft, and quickly reaching a pinnacle of DJing in the Winnipeg scene, DJ Alibaba wanted to break into a major market. This is where Surrey becomes a part of his story, when in 1992 he made the move out West, and Surrey has been his home ever since.
Flash forward a few years/decades later, and DJ Alibaba considers himself as a “well-rounded entertainer” more so than solely a “turntablist”. “I pride myself on connecting with the crowd, playing the right song at the right time in the mix, and being able to hype a crowd on the microphone. Some people say my microphone skills is my strongest suit.” For equipment and software, he uses Technics 1200’s Raine Mixer, a MacBook Pro and Video Serato, and although he had accumulated over 25,000 records over the years, due to modern technology, he’s decided to “trim down” the collection to a “small” but mighty 3,000. When asked which DJ’s inspire him and his work, he’s quick to recite DJ Jazzy Jeff as being his favourite in the scene.
Giving credit where credit is due, he also mentioned his like and appreciation for Grand Master Flash, Red Alert, Kool Herc, Kid Capri, Funk Master Flex and Jam Master Jay. “One of the things I am most proud of, outside of being the first black “On-Air” radio personality on a mainstream, commercialised radio station, is people know me as the first DJ to ever have a Hip Hop night in Surrey.”
Although a proud Surrey resident, DJ Alibaba states the facts that unfortunately, “the night clubs and bar scene has been run out of Surrey and channelled to the Granville Strip, with all the other night clubs, which has really hurt the nightlife scene in Surrey. Surrey is the fastest growing region in the Lower Mainland so clearly there is enormous opportunity to provide entertainment on this side of the Fraser Valley. One thing the City Council Members have not taken into consideration is providing people an opportunity to have a thriving nightlife in Surrey without having to drive across bridges to Vancouver after consuming alcohol. Surrey needs much improvement in that area.”
Nowadays, you can find DJ Alibaba playing at the The Flying Beaver in Richmond and at The Park Bar in Downtown on weekends. He also frequently DJ’s corporate events with Vancouver International Airport (YVR), various hospitals, and other various corporate entities. And when he is not DJ’ing it up, DJ Alibaba engages in meaningful philanthropic initiatives in the community with his organization “Friends United Beyond All Race.” The organization hosts fundraising events such as their famous “Roller Jam” at Robson Square, “Golf Classic” tournament at Guildford Golf & Country Club and their “Glow Party” at The Park Bar, in support of Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon.
Whatever DJ Alibaba is doing, it is clear that he is doing it with a whole lot of soul and care. A lover of all things music, a household name in the Canadian DJ scene, and a proud Surrey resident…. DJ Alibaba is it. And we are grateful to have him as a part of our thriving community.
To find out more about DJ Alibaba’s services you can find him at…
Help Canadian Artists Get Played
Canadian musicians have a great opportunity to get radio play right here in Vancouver. Mary Kirk of Durham Radio has applied for a Vancouver license. With a new, local radio station artists will have a greater range of options to be heard, played, and paid for their music.
Durham Radio needs our help to get their application accepted. I’m reaching out to all musicians to send a letter of support for Durham Radio’s application.
Here is a message from Mary and Doug Kirk:
Dear members of our Wave artist family,
We at Durham Radio Inc. have applied for a new FM license to broadcast The Wave on 98.3FM in the heart of Vancouver, Canada’s second-largest English-speaking market and a perfect backdrop for Canada’s Smoothest Groove!
Our application was publicly posted Monday, March 22nd on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s site (CRTC). In order to be successful, we now need huge public support, especially from our wonderful Wave family of artists. We hope you will add your own letter of support, documenting your past experiences with The Wave and with us personally, emphasizing our commitment to our artists, especially our Canadian vocalists and instrumentalists. If you have a personal story that will illustrate the impact the Wave has had on your career in the music industry, we would so appreciate your sharing it with the Commission.
Please begin your letter with a clear statement of support for our application. Then explain why you think that our “Smooth Groove” format would be a welcome addition to the Vancouver market. You may have some thoughts beyond the obvious arguments that we’ll be adding diversity of choice for listeners and a new fresh sound, primarily from artists who do not get played on any other stations in Canada. Our dedication to live music around town and major show production will of course continue, once attending concerts is allowed again!
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts to make “Vancouver’s Smoothest Groove” a reality! Our West Coast Wave will play an even balance of instrumental and vocal music and will be 40% Canadian in content. We are eager to get all our artists back on FM radio in Canada and introduced them to so many new fans.
With your help, we hope to be able to report on a favourable CRTC decision by late summer.
To mail your support: CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2 To fax your support please send to 819-994-0218 for further instructions contact Cat Levan at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.wave.fm
Many thanks for your support,
Surrey-local Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights Pulls At Heartstrings Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic
The winter months have proven to be some of the toughest of the Covid-19 pandemic in British Columbia. Many people have been faced with loss, some for the first time. It is hard to comprehend the thought that a loved one is just not there anymore. But you are not alone. And Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights makes sure you know it.
Restless Nights is just 3 weeks old now, premiering amidst some of the highest Covid-19 related deaths that British Columbia has seen. With our province also under strict pandemic restrictions, many of us spent the holidays alone. Restless Nights came at the perfect time. The song speaks to the difficulty of not being able to be with the people you love, whether that separation be due to distance or loss. Many people have felt this hardship this year, including Singh himself.
“Over one year ago, I lost my older brother and wanted to write a song that would capture my grief. I am sharing Restless Nights in the hope that it may bring comfort and closure for those of us who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one, without getting to say goodbye. I want to reach out, especially during these COVID-19 days, and let you know that you are not alone,” he says.
This loss shines through in Singh’s vocal and lyrics. The raw vulnerability that he sings with holds an authenticity that cannot be replicated without having to navigate the firsthand experience of losing a loved one.
Singh’s lyrics and musicianship are complimented by visuals and animation done by Peca Petrovic of Smile Magnet. The video shows Singh walking through an empty park, playing his guitar. Other images flash by that are meant to draw our eye, whether they be memories of his own family or the prominent image of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix at their daily address.
You can watch Restless Nights on YouTube now.
New Christmas Originals CD from Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan!
Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan
spreads the love with “The Joy of Christmas”
Produced by Billboard chart-topper Steve Oliver, her new EP dropped on Nov 6
Longtime Vancouverite Cat Levan’s second album (EP) “The Joy of Christmas” released November 6th, breathes fresh feeling into the much-loved classic “Silent Night”, and introduces two new favourites that will have listeners craving snuggles and hot cocoa by the fire. Her sultry tone brings an intimate feel to #1 hitmaker Steve Oliver’s engaging ballad “Watching the Snow Fall”. The idea for her self-penned, softly-rhythmic title track “The Joy of Christmas” sparked earlier this year when she spotted a tiny Christmas tree in the studio where she was recording her first album “Double Life”.
“I love Christmas, not just the tinsel, lights and gifts, but the whole idea that there is a time of year when people give a little more, care a little more and open up their hearts to others. Maybe we can’t all hug right now due to Covid, but I hope this song feels like I’m giving you all a big, warm, hug!” offers Levan.
As a lyricist, she is a storyteller who writes about love, connection and the warmth of family, which suit the vulnerable qualities inherent in her ethereal voice.
“The Joy of Christmas” is dedicated to my Mom who always made Christmas so special, and to those who’ve lost someone and really feel that loss at this time of year,” admitted Levan who has also launched two videos on Youtube to accompany the album release: The Joy of Christmas , Watching the Snow Fall .
Levan found that remembering family times helped her let go of heartache. “The memories spark traditions which in turn, keep the memories alive. It’s a wonderful way to honour those who are no longer with us,” reveals Levan saying that the song “Watching The Snow Fall” is “about the holidays becoming even more wonderful when spent with your special someone. Creating new memories with them can once again make this a magical time of year. It’s about feeling the love as you watch the snow fall…”
She brings a solid groove to “Silent Night”, a well-known traditional Christmas carol. A subtle gospel rhythm speaks to the soul and gives an ancient song new life. Her voice gently caresses the lyrics and brings renewed meaning to the words “heavenly peace”.
The “The Joy of Christmas” EP contains the following songs: “The Joy of Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “Watching the Snow Fall”. Curl up with a glass of wine and listen to Levan as she casts a Christmas spell with “The Joy of Christmas”
About Cat Levan:
A former professional kick-boxer, restaurant owner, clothing designer, marketing director, illustrator – and mother, Cat Levan finally realized her long-held musical dream this past spring when she released her debut album, “Double Life”. The Vancouver-based artist teamed with Billboard Top 10 hitmaker and guitarist Steve Oliver to write seven original songs for the 11-song recording produced by Oliver in his Southern California studio.
Her Canadian countryman and brother-in-law, contemporary jazz saxophonist Walle Larsson (married to her sister, Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriter Melanie Chartrand), guested throughout the collection that finished production just prior to the closure of the border due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tracks from the CD have been played by host Nou Dadoun on “The A-Trane” Vancouver’s longest-running jazz radio show and are now charting in regular airplay rotation on smooth jazz radio stations across the USA and UK, as well as on “Wave FM” Canada’s main smooth jazz station located in Southwestern Ontario.
Levan’s quest for music brought her to the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, where she was a soloist, and Soundscape A Capella group where she discovered harmonies. She has been a guest artist with blues bands and classic rock bands but decided it was time to explore her own music.
Levan’s friend Chris Thornley, who plans the annual Blues for the Bank benefit concert in Surrey who like Levan is also a singer and marketing professional, said he’s impressed by Levan’s musical efforts. “The quality of production, arrangements and songwriting are all first-class.”
For more information, please visit https://catlevan.com.
Surrey-based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis, Defies Western Beauty Standards Through Music, Fashion and Beauty
By Navreet Dhaliwal
Surrey-Based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis is using music, fashion, and beauty as expressions to challenge western beauty standards that she has been faced with since her younger days as an emerging artist and entrepreneur.
“Breaking stereotypes since 1979” has become a part of Natalia’s rhetoric because of her journey as an artist and her mission to go against the grain of what she was told to do in order to be a more successful artist and entrepreneur. Natalia states how a woman’s age has come to define her in the music industry. Natalia got her breakthrough into the music industry in her late 20’s, which could be considered as a “late start” by music industry standards. Natalia’s reps at that time would go on to tell her she is in luck due to the fact that she looked so young.
For years, Natalia stuck with the narrative of being perceived as young just so she could find success with what she loved to do, which was play music. Overtime, Natalia states “I didn’t feel authentic as an artist and did not like playing along to the narrative of being younger than I actually was.” Overtime, Natalia did what she does best, which is to break stereotypes and start stating her actual age to let her audience know about her journey as an artist and the hard work it took her to get to where she is.
From the get-go, Natalia was often told that she needed to lose weight and be a specific body type in order to garner success as a musician and entrepreneur. Growing up with this negative narrative and witnessing it being instilled in female students that she was teaching, Natalia chose to speak out against body-shaming through her ventures and the online platform that she has come to build as an artist. Once again, Natalia is on her mission to break stereotypes as she weaves strong messages of body positivity in her body of work and her online platforms, Natalia states “no one’s body affects who they are, their music, their voice, and what they can do.”
Natalia admits that her journey to go against the grain of western beauty standards has not been the easiest thing to do. She states “life has been hard but it’s also been beautiful.” She has been able to discover herself through her journey and come to the fact that it is not okay for anyone to be turned down opportunities simply due to the fact of who they are and how they don’t fit into a cookie-cutter image of success.
Using her music, her lifestyle, and her beauty brand, Natalia wants to build a community of like-minded individuals who feel like they are not alone as they figure out who they are and not feel like they are stuck at a disadvantage because they don’t fit into a certain “ideal” image of beauty.
Natalia released her newest single “Mr. Slowpoke” in June, which can be found on Spotify. If you want to keep up to date with Natalia’s journey as an artist and entrepreneur, she can be found on @natavivi on Instagram and on Facebook as Natalia Paradalis Music.
Legendary Canadian Band HONEYMOON SUITE Hit the Top 30 Rock Charts for the First Time in 19 Years
36 years on, that headline above makes the fact all the more impressive. Canadian classic rockers Honeymoon Suite hope you “Find What You’re Looking For” in this, their newest single – available now!
The newest preview for the iconic band’s forthcoming album, “Find What You’re Looking For” has been eagerly ushered in by fans and critics alike, hitting the Top 30 rock charts in Canada in no time flat. It’s their first chart-climber in 19 years, and follows late 2019’s “Tell Me What You Want” – their first single release since 1992.
The two tracks lift the curtain, revealing the latest in what’s to come from the band who’ve long made themselves a household name. Early listens show the release has an unmistakably fresh energy to it, while still keeping true to the classic Honeymoon Suite sound fans have loved for nearly four decades.
First formed in 1981, Honeymoon Suite first broke onto the scene thanks to hit single “New Girl Now” taking the cake in a ‘Homegrown’ radio station contest put on by Toronto’s Q107. Founding members Johnnie Dee and Derry Grehan would soon be joined by Gary Lalonde, Dave Betts, and Peter Nunn, and go on to win a JUNO Award for ‘Group of the Year’, countless nominations, and continued International recognition over their near-40 years.
“Sometimes you just know when everything starts lining up, and sounding really good early on,” says Honeymoon Suite. “This new album will be the strongest new music we’ve released in a long time.”
“Find What You’re Looking For” is available now.
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