Toronto, ON – September 14, 2020 – Honey Jam – the Toronto-based non-profit organization and artist development program fostering young female artists – is celebrating a milestone year. It has been 25 years since Founder, Ebonnie Rowe, first welcomed emerging artists to the stage of the now-defunct Ultrasound venue in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, for the first Honey Jam concert. In the years following, hundreds have graced the venue annually, with the city gathering to support and experience powerful voices that drive tomorrow’s music scene. Today, the organization is a renowned platform known for enriching the careers of notable alumni including, Nelly Furtado, Jully Black, Melanie Fiona, SATE, Melanie Durrant, Michie Mee, LUKALA, Haviah Mighty,  Jordan Alexander and many more.

They recently received this greeting from Mayor Tory:

“For the past 25 years, Honey Jam Canada has been doing incredible work in supporting, promoting and celebrating female artists in Canada’s thriving music industry…I’ve always seen art and music and all different forms of art as a great unifier. It’s a universal language, for our city, and the world, for that matter, and I’m happy that through the work being done at Honey Jam Canada, female artists – women across our country – will feel empowered and be supported to have a voice, and to realize their own dreams. Over the years, Toronto has gained a global reputation for our world-class music scene and it’s through the work of Honey Jam Canada that we can help ensure that this reputation is one that is equitable and reflective of the diverse and inclusive city and country that we live in. I want to thank Honey Jam Canada for all the incredible work that you do to build up our community and I look forward to all the incredible talent you’re going to help produce going forward. Congratulations, once again, on an incredible milestone! Happy 25th anniversary! Have a happy one!”

Despite a global pandemic and new event protocols, nothing is stopping Honey Jam from having a sweet celebration of their success to date.

Rowe says: "If I gave up every time I was faced with a challenge we would never be celebrating this milestone – we wouldn't have even made it one year far less 25!  Getting here is a really big deal so I was determined that we would have a show somehow, some way and we're all super excited to be together in person at the legendary El Mocambo. Their slogan ‘Keeping Live Alive!’ really resonated.  A Zoom version of Honey Jam is just not the same!” 

Honey Jam fans will be able to enjoy a virtual concert experience livestreamed from Toronto’s iconic venue, The El Mocambo, on Thursday, October 1.

“The legacy of the El Mocambo was built on emerging talent, in its newest chapter we couldn’t be more thrilled to be supporting organizations like Honey Jam who cultivate and nurture amazing performer.” says El Mocambo owner, Michael Wekerle. “We are very fortunate to have partners that understand the importance of Keeping Live Music Alive, and we can’t wait to celebrate 25 remarkable years of Honey Jam supporting artists and culture in our city!”

The gig will showcase an array of performances by alumni paying homage to songs made famous by female artists in a variety of genres. You can find  the list of alumni here.

In addition, Ebonnie and Honey Jam are acknowledged as one of three finalists for the The Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition, a prestigious honour by Toronto Arts Foundation. The award is a $10,000 cash prize presented to an individual, ensemble or organization, to recognize creative, performing, administrative, volunteer or philanthropic contributions to Toronto's musical life. The official awards ceremony will take place on September 24.

The Honey Jam 2020 season is sponsored by: TD Ready Commitment, Slaight Music, Ontario Creates, Factor, CBC Music, Music Canada, SOCAN Foundation, Canadian Musician, Wahlburgers, YAMAHA, The City of Toronto, CHFI, KISS925, Factor,  The Post Office Sound, iHeart Radio Canada, Music Publishers Canada and the El Mocambo.

About Honey Jam:
Honey Jam is an annual program that offers mentoring, education, performance and networking opportunities for female-identifying artists, culminating with a stellar showcase to highlight their growth. Yearly programming includes Honey Jam artists and alumni engaging in workshops, artist talks, songwriting camps, performance and development opportunities, as well as collaborations and travel experiences for the artists to expand their network and fan base outside of Canada. Watch a video from alumni sharing insight from their experiences here.

The year kicked off with Honey Jam giving an artist the experience of attending the GRAMMYs, while alumni continue to shine years to decades after participating in the program. Rising star, LUKALA, was recently featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday billboard at Yonge-Dundas Square and named Apple Artist Of The Week for her single, No Smoke. Alumnus, Director Stella Meghie, recently announced that she will be behind a new Whitney Houston biopic, while Toronto’s own GRAMMY-nominee Jessie Reyez, a past speaker Honey Jam’s esteemed artist talks who also attended their workshops long before she became famous, graces this month’s cover of ELLE Canada. You can follow all of Honey Jam artist updates and milestones to date via Instagram.

On August 10, alumnus Jordan Alexander, led an artist talk at Superfly in Toronto. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter has toured Canada with Bif Naked, headlined in BudLight’s 2019 nationwide Pride campaign with Carly Rae Jepsen, opened for Kehlani during Toronto Pride 2018, and released a full-length album, The Lonely Hearts Club, which she worked on with singer/songwriter/producer, Gerald Eaton, of the Philosopher Kings, who met her when she performed at the Honey Jam Showcase in 2013.   Jordan was recently tapped as one of the leads of the Gossip Girl reboot and will be moving to New York for a year to shoot the episodes.

Singer-songwriter, Serena Ryder, presented an artist talk on August 27, as she is preparing to release the first single from her forthcoming album. A few of the artists in attendance surprised Serena with a medley of her hits. She was so moved that she offered them time in her studio and opportunities to write with her.

About Honey Jam Founder, Ebonnie Rowe
Ebonnie has been telling Honey Jam’s HERstory since the start of the new decade, including a recent co-hosting appearance on ET Canada Live, interviews with CBC’s Here and Now, and The Strombo Show, with major features in Feels ZineHerizonsNUVO MagazineCanadian Musician MagazineComplex CanadaUrbanology and She Does The City, and a highlight in Women In Music Canada’s Elevate series, amongst others.

Ebonnie Rowe has distinguished herself throughout her career as someone dedicated to the growth of others and the support of charitable causes with a positive community impact. She has volunteered with, founded and directed organizations that cater to the needs of some of society’s overlooked groups including the Each One, Teach One mentoring program for Black Youth and PhemPhat Entertainment Group, a dynamic, all-female non-profit company that provides promotional, mentoring, networking, educational and performance opportunities for upcoming female artists and to support and promote women’s charities.

Featured in “Canada 150 Women Conversations with Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries”, listed in the Who’s Who of Canadian Women, chosen as Miss Chatelaine” by Chatelaine Magazine, Ebonnie was also featured in TD Bank’s 2019 Canada-Wide Black History Month promotion featuring the initiatives they support in led by members of the Black community through a social media campaign and also posting photos and organization info on screens in their branches. She was selected as one of 1000 women photographed by Parisian photographer Pierre Maraval for an exhibit co-produced by Luminato and L’Oréal Paris, the exhibit, titled “Mille Femmes” and aimed to capture inspirational women who embody the passion, heritage & inspiration behind Toronto's artistic community. And when Michelle Obama came to speak in Toronto with the Economic Club of Canada, she was chosen by the How She Hustles women’s network as part of a group who have been doing impactful work to benefit women and girls to be a specially invited guest.

Ebonnie’s work has also earned her many awards, including, an Ontario Voluntarism Award, YWCA's Women of Distinction Award for Arts & Entertainment, Manifesto Toronto Arts Festival Pioneer Award, Nominated for Chatelaine’s Woman of the Year ,Canadian Black Business & Professional Association Woman of Honour Award ,a Special Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada, Recipient of Black Pearls Cultured Pearl Award for Community Involvement, University of Toronto Black Alumni Association Award for Arts and Culture, Phenomenal Woman Award from Exclusive Entertainment, Community Service Award, Ryerson African Canadian Organization, Toronto Sun Woman on the Move Award (November 1995).

While Ebonnie was studying at the University of Toronto, a friend of hers died suddenly. The loss was devastating; it made her realize the shortness of life, the silent despair suffered by many. This fueled her need to do something that meant something to leave a significant legacy. Determined to have a constructive influence on the lives of others, she left University to found and direct a mentorship program - Each One Teach One, which matched black youth with black professionals, the idea being that the youth needed to see themselves succeeding in places that they aspired to be in order to combat the negative stereotypes they were seeing of Black people portrayed in the media.

Hip-Hop was the music that most of the youth in the program listened to, some of which contained a lot of misogynist lyrics and imagery. She produced a three-hour radio special on Canada’s longest and most popular Hip-Hop show – DJX’s CKLN Power Move in 1994 to discuss how women were portrayed in Hip-Hop lyrics and videos after complaints from her female Each One Teach One mentees. As a result, she was asked to edit an all-female edition of the now defunct Mic Check entertainment magazine. The celebration party for that issue in 1995, intended to be a one-off show, was called “Honey Jam.” The success of the show pointed to a void in the artistic community for young women to be showcased. Ebonnie was then inspired to continue for a year and see how it went. 25 years later, Honey Jam has grown to become an artist development program, and a much-anticipated annual multicultural showcase of upcoming artists in all genres of music, where talents such as Grammy Award winners Nelly Furtado and Melanie Fiona, along with Juno winners Kellylee Evans and Jully Black and Polaris Music Prize winner, Haviah Mighty, performed at the beginning of their careers.

Media Launch: Monday, September 21 – El Mocambo
Honey Jam Concert: Thursday, October 1 – Livestreamed from El Mocambo

Please RSVP to ola@indoorrecess.com by September 18 to attend the September 21 launch.

DOWNLOAD – Honey Jam Logo | DOWNLOAD – Ebonnie Rowe Press Photo | DOWNLOAD – Honey Jam 25th Anniversary Launch Poster