Show Saturday celebrating diversity will include musicians, playwright paying tribute
A lineup of musicians and other performers are set to play a concert Saturday in New Glasgow honouring Viola Desmond.
Cecil Wright said putting together a concert in Viola Desmond’s honour is long overdue.
The vice president of the African Nova Scotian Music Association said he got the idea for the concert when he was in New Glasgow for the screening of the documentary about Desmond – Long Road to Justice – which took place at Glasgow Square theatre in February as part of African Heritage Month celebrations.
“I looked around the venue and thought ANSMA should be doing something here to commemorate (Desmond) because New Glasgow is the site of the incident,” he said.
Desmond, a Halifax beautician and instructor who developed her own line of specialized beauty products, was arrested in 1946 for sitting in a whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre. Jailed and fined for not paying a theatre tax, she was pardoned posthumously by the Province of Nova Scotia 2010.
The incident and Desmond’s subsequent legal battle to have the conviction overturned have been credited with leading to the elimination of segregation in the province.
“We want to commemorate the courage that she had to stand up when she did. Think about how difficult it was. She was all by herself – she stood up for her principles,
and we all stand to learn something from that.”
Hosted by the Town of New Glasgow and ANSMA, the First Annual Viola Desmond Heritage Concert takes place Saturday at Glasgow Square, and will feature a wide variety of African Nova Scotian musicians.
Wright said different musical genres will be represented by the Sanctified Brothers, Cyndi Cain, Universal Soul, Asia & Nugruv, and Ced Marty & Dave.
ANSMA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development, promotion and enhancement of African Nova Scotia Music. Formed in 1997, it’s made up of more than 50 local musicians and music industry professionals.
Cain will also perform a musical tribute to Desmond, and Nova Scotia playwright Juanita Peters will honour Desmond with an original piece she composed especially for the occasion.
“We thought it would be imperative to have a contribution from a black female since we’re honouring a black female,” said Wright. “It will be a highlighted part of the show.”
The concert is billed as reflecting “the musical diversity of the African Nova Scotian community, as well as the growth taking place within the African Nova Scotian music community.”
Wright hopes that the Viola Desmond Heritage Concert will become an annual event that may take place in various parts of the province.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” he said about the show.
Tickets are $25 and it starts at 6 p.m.
Cyndi Cain will perform during the First Annual Viola Desmond Heritage Concert on Saturday in New Glasgow.