Leading up to Black History month in February, Canadian rapper Duane D.O. Gibson will appear in Burnaby next week as part of a tour across Canada to teach students about Black history.
Gibson’s third annual Black Canadian history school tour called Black Music 365 kicked off Tuesday in Chilliwack and will wind up in Nova Scotia — and will include 22 locations along the way including a couple of stops in Lower Mainland.
After a virtual tour last year, Black Music 365 is back in person, and the Lower Mainland shows will include a week-long residency at Burnaby’s Michael J Fox Theatre starting Jan. 16.
The two-time Guinness World Record-setting rapper will tour across the country offering students insight into musical contributions from notable Black Canadian talent.
Music has always been central to his presentations as a hip-hop artist and motivational speaker, Gibson said in a release. During the 2023 tour, the rapper hopes to highlight the contributions of Canadian artists like Maestro Fresh Wes, Oscar Peterson, Jully Black, Portia White and Drake.
“It started with hip-hop as a kid,” Gibson said in a conversation with the NOW.
“When I listened to hip-hop, I listened to a song that was fun about partying and dancing. But I gravitated towards the lyrical music and music that inspired me and taught me things.”
Gibson said he realized he wanted to use music to teach kids when he listened to Maestro Fresh Wes’s Nothin’ at All, where the rapper speaks about racism.
He said that it means a lot for him when kids walk up to him after his performances and share what it means for them to hear about the history that he talks about in his music.
“A young girl today come up to me and she just saying how much she appreciated it because she didn't know facts,” he said. “And these are just Black Canadian stories. It's Canadian history.”
The school tour, Black Music 365, is part of his “Stay Driven” program. For two decades, Gibson has gone to schools to educate students about Black history with hip-hop.
Although he initially started using hip-hop as a way to speak about bullying, leadership and goals, when he realized schools would often focus on U.S. figures like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, he took it in his own hands to tell the kids about the rich Canadian Black history.
“I always found out more about history through music, and of course I've been using hip hop to teach kids,” he added, “but I also want to tell kids about other musicians ... people like Oscar Peterson. And now they look to somebody like Drake. Where does this Canadian musician come from?”
Gibson will appear in Burnaby between Jan. 16 and 20, with 15 shows over the five days. He said he's looking forward to being back in British Columbia, where he’s been visiting since 1986.
“It is like a second home to me,” he said.
Schedule for D.O. GIBSON – BLACK MUSIC 365 Tour
The shows are for students of the respective schools and are not open to the public.
- January 10, 2023 - Chilliwack, BC - Imagine High Integrated Arts and Technology School
- January 10, 2023 - Langley, BC - Gordon Greenwood Elementary
- January 11, 2023 - Chilliwack, BC - GW Graham Secondary
- January 11, 2023 - Chilliwack, BC - Chilliwack Secondary
- January 12, 2023 - Aldergrove, BC - North Otter Elementary
- January 12, 2023 - Fort Langley, BC - Langley Fine Arts School
- January 13, 2023 - Port Coquitlam, BC - Maple Creek Middle School
- January 13, 2023 - Maple Ridge, BC - Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary
- January 16 - January 20, 2023 - Burnaby, BC - Michael J Fox Theatre
- January 25, 2023 - Toronto, ON - Our Lady of Victory
- January 26, 2023 - Woodbridge, ON - Guardian Angels
- January 27, 2023 - Markham, ON - Cornell Village
- January 27, 2023 - Aurora, ON - Devins Drive
- February 6, 2023 - Woodbridge, ON - St. Emily
- February 6, 2023 - King City, ON - Holy Name
- February 9, 2023 - Mississauga, ON - Fallingbrook
- February 10, 2023 - Waterloo, ON - St. Kateri Catholic
- February 15, 2023 - Newmarket, ON - St. Elizabeth Seton
- February 16, 2023 - Toronto, ON - Ursula Franklin
- February 17, 2023 - Midland, ON - St. Theresa’s Catholic High School
- February 21, 2023 - Richmond Hill, ON - Macleod's Landing
- February 23, 2023 - Maple, ON - St. Clare CES
- February 23, 2023 - Markham, ON - St. Michael Academy
- February 24, 2023 - Brampton, ON - Castlemore
- March 29, 2023 - Richmond Hill, ON - Richmond Rose
- April 11, 2023 - West Vancouver, BC - West Bay Elementary
- May 1, 2023 - Oakville, ON - St. Mary Catholac
- May 2, 2023 - Richmond Hill, ON - St. John Paul II
- May 3, 2023 - West Hants, NS - West Hants Middle School