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The 2nd Annual

SPEAK Music 

Be Kind Festival


February 5-6, 2021

We're going virtual!

  FREE to view performances!



"Where words fail, music speaks." ~ Hans Christian Anderson

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Al Qahwa,  Alisha Brilla,

Communism, Desirée Dawson,

Emilyn Stam & John David Williams,  

JV's Boogaloo Squad, Mama's Broke, 

Mimi O'Bonsawin, OKAN,

Pressgang Mutiny  

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Friday, February 5

Rollover photos for performer bios

Emilyn Stam and John David Williams' latest album Honeywood showcases original compositions and traditional tunes for European folk dances, and was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award. Their unique sensibility and interplay, merging clarinet, violin, and accordion, has been described as beautiful, playful, and witty.

Emilyn Stam &

John David Williams



7:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Desirée Dawson



8:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Desirée Dawson is passionate about music’s role in collective healing, by encouraging listeners to find a connection within themselves and the people and land around them. Desirée has been featured on numerous CBC Music programs, has her songs on regular rotation, and won the CBC Searchlight contest in 2016. Desirée’s music is made to get us feeling and healing.




9:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Communism wants you to dance. They want you to feel love, purpose, action, and ecstasy. Their strong message of togetherness, respect, and being helpful to each other, is magnified by primal rhythms, jaw-dropping visuals, and heartfelt, optimistic energy. Communism is Don Kerr - drums + vocals, Kevin Lacroix - bass + synth + vocals, Kurt Swinghammer - guitar + synth + vocals, and Craig Small - visual wizardry.

Pressgang Mutiny, from the port of Toronto, have been roaring out sea shanties since 2013. With high energy and rousing choruses, the group has become a favourite both at home and on the  East Coast. They maintain a vital tradition of both singalong, and some lesser-known, workingmen’s songs that are the world's first truly multi-cultural music. Their performance will feature three core members: Stefan Read, James McKie & Richard Kott.

Pressgang Mutiny


10:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Alysha Brilla is a three-time JUNO Award-nominated artist, multi-instrumentalist, music producer and creative wellness facilitator, currently working on her fifth self-produced full-length record, The Body; blending global roots sounds with expansive lyrical themes and meditative undertones.

Alysha Brilla



11:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Saturday, February 6

Al Qahwa



7:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Al Qahwa is Arabic for “the coffee house.” It was inspired by café culture in the Middle East, where people would go to hear the latest news, music, poetry, and stories. Their repertoire began with traditional songs from Syria, Egypt, and Iraq; then in 2018, the group started adding original repertoire. Al Qahwa Ensemble is Maryem Tollar on vocals, riqq (Arabic tambourine) and qanun (Arabic table harp); Ernie Tollar on wind instruments; Demetri Petsalakis on oud; and Naghmeh Fahrahmand on percussion.

Mama's Broke



8:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


Mama’s Broke is a powerful folk duo that deliver a compelling performance with heart and raw energy. Although highly influenced by their Canadian roots, Lisa and Amy are based out of nowhere and everywhere. Their two strong voices blend to create haunting harmonies, while they artfully juggle fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin, and incorporate traditional dance and foot percussion into their performance.

JV's Boogaloo Squad



9:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


International Museum of the Baroque

JV’s Boogaloo Squad formed in 2015, when Hammond B3 organist Joel Visentin joined up with guitarist Adam Beer-Colacino and drummer Jeff Halischuk. The musical connection was immediate and electric, the chemistry palpable, and all three instantly recognized that they had stumbled on something. They've since honed their vintage-yet-modern sound on the club circuit, becoming a fixture at The Rex, and playing the likes of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

Mimi O'Bonsawin



10:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


International Museum of the Baroque

Mimi O'Bonsawin is an award-winning roots songstress. You can find Mimi out on the road bringing songs and stories to divers audiences all over this country and abroad. Her songs are heavily influenced by her French Canadian and Abenaki roots and flow through a centre of love and creativity. Her compositions are nurtured by the beauty of her home landscape, and her performances honest and raw.




11:00 pm ET Performance

Artist Tip Jar


International Museum of the Baroque

OKAN are named for the word "heart" in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. The women-led ensemble fuses Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk, and global rhythms, in songs about immigration, courage, and love. JUNO nominees and Independent Music Award winners, OKAN's current LP Espiral debuted at No. 1 on the !Earshot International charts, and was included in CBC Music's Top 20 and NPR's Top 10 Alt Latino's Albums of the Year.

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 Friday, February 5, 2021 

  7:00 pm Emilyn Stam & John David Williams

  8:00 pm Desirée Dawson

  9:00 pm Communism

  10:00 pm Nick Sherman

  11:00 pm Alysha Brilla


Saturday, February 6, 2021

   7:00 pm Al Qahwa

   8:00 pm Mama's Broke

   9:00 pm JV's Boogaloo Squad

   10:00 pm Mimi O'Bonsawin

   11:00 pm OKAN

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Please donate if you can, and don't forget to tip the artists

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Our goal is to create a festival for music lovers and music-makers who are kind, or want to be kind. Check your unkind attitude at the door!

SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival is a non-profit Canadian music festival, with net profits distributed to a different charity each year, to be held annually in Toronto, showcasing a diverse blend of Canadian music creators in performances and workshops. We endeavour to invite more kindness into our own lives and into the world.

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These are the folks who kindly support our festival as partners, sponsors and friends. Music fosters community and so does kind behaviour and action.

We're grateful for their support.


Black Lives Matter Canada is the Canadian chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting police and State violence and anti-Black racism.

We are an Independent music website / online magazine. Our journey started in 2004 at The Sound Cafe Recording Studio. We learned that there's so much more to music than woolly jumpers and acoustic guitars.   

The Tranzac

The Tranzac is a not-for-profit member supported community organization with a focus on promoting arts, music and theatre. The TRANZAC (an abbreviation of Toronto Australia New Zealand Club) is proud of its roots as an Australian/New Zealand club.

Blues and Roots Radio was

established in 2013 by professional musicians and music lovers, as an independent global online platform created for artists to be heard by as wide an audience as possible. 

Erin Radio is a non-profit, community-focused, volunteer-run, community radio station, promoting user-generated content and citizen journalism to engage the local community of Erin, Ontario.

SPEAK Music is a publicity company, owned and operated by Beverly Kreller, that serves musicians and musical events. Past clients include the Toronto City Roots Festival, Lulaworld Festival, Small World Music Festival, Maple Blues Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards.


SOCAN Foundation fosters, sustains, and promotes the creation of Canadian music. 

Long & McQuade is Canada's largest musical instrument retailer, serving Canadians since 1956, with more than 80 stores nationwide.


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Festival & Artistic Director

Beverly Kreller

Volunteer Co-ordinator

Pam McCord


SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival

20 Bloor St. East, P.O. Box 75102
Toronto, Ontario  

M4W 3T3

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©2021 by SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival.