Last fall, Chicago music journalist Catalina Johnson observed that “TD Sunfest is more than a festival; it’s a vibe” (Songlines Magazine). That vibe is, in part, a reggae one, thanks to life-affirming appearances by Mr. Sunfest, Lazo, roots reggae exponents The Human Rights, and “future forward reggae-soul fusion” artist Ammoye (born Shernette Evans in Clarendon parish, Jamaica).
A six-time JUNO Award nominee (most recently, for her 13-track album Water), and winner of the 2015 Reggae Exclusive Recognition Awards, Ammoye is that rarest of artists: a powerful female singer-songwriter in the reggae genre – though it’s more like “reggae through a kaleidoscope” as this visionary Jamaican Canadian becomes “a soul rebel on a soul path, singing her way to a higher self” (Afropop Worldwide).
That her life – and, by extension, her dazzling original music and unerringly upbeat worldview – is the outcome of a tremendous victory over adversity makes Ammoye a performer who both inspires and entertains. And as the Toronto-based artist makes clear on her sprawling 2017 album The Light, she is as comfortable singing gospel, soul and R&B as she is soaring above an ace reggae groove.
One of the biggest hits of Ammoye’s career so far is “Count on Me (remix),” a song on Water that was “channelled from her higher self,” and used by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in one of its campaigns to help build awareness of mental health issues. The songstress says, “No matter how things look, I always have the support, and things are always going to be okay. That’s really the message in this song: offering support to anyone who’s going through distress and mental health issues.”