54Lights is dedicated to elevating creative black voices through authentically told stories. We showcase Africans, the diaspora and allies of the great continent. Our mission is to showcase and (re)shape the brand that represents people of colour. Each episode is designed to introduce global audiences to culture creators (artists, musicians and innovators)...so that we can celebrate the diversity, texture and prowess of our people.
Hosted by Kondwani Mwase
Finding My Revolution St. with Al Lee
In a sublime departure from our regular programming, 54Lights host Kondwani Mwase sat down with singer songwriter Al Lee to talk about his poignant work – Revolution St. The album, the artist’s second release, is a deeply personal endeavour. From his home in Revelstoke BC, Al Lee broke down his early days in music and even shared that his original move to the mic (i.e. singing) was born of necessity rather than want.
Al Lee also spoke about his views on being an Iranian musician singing Blue Grass and Folk inspired songs. His love of music, which arguably seems to has started with a Blues love affair, draws from music’s ability to “transcend colour”. Counted amongst his inspirations – the legends like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.
And though the interview was light hearted, fun and a reunion of two old friends, we took some time to unpack Al Lee’s second album and title track – Revolution Street. The song, like many others on the album, is complex and emotional. They draw from real life events, in this case a real life feminist revolt in Iran, and weaves in his personal nuanced insights.
But rather than hog the spotlight, Al Lee, in typical fashion, shared how he embraced the contributions from the instrumentalists on his album…ones whose work fortifies and underlines his efforts. Enjoy our latest episode where we glean from a great interview and sample some bite size tracks.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Biggest Interview Scoop – Uncovering why Ali Haeri took the stage name Al Lee
Largest Interview Surprise – Al Lee and Kondwani Mwase both had Def Leopard cassettes
Largest Interview Regret – revealing that both Al Lee and Kondwani had Def Leopard cassettes
Things you’ll never be able to take back – bad jokes about Millennials and reading…seriously though, we do regret that slight and accept old men jokes in response.
Revolution St. is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and other popular sound streaming platforms.
(Part Two) Path to Plate - Community-Led Innovation with FoodShare's Paul Taylor
In Part Two of our interview with FoodShare's Executive Director Paul Taylor, 54Lights podcast asks our guest to help explain the impetus and strategy of FoodShare. In his profoundly thoughtful responses, Paul Taylor takes us through the food system and how communities can find agency for advancement through food. Far from the only lever, food has a way of empowering and feeding (pardon the pun) the disadvantaged in a way that empowers. And while that provides some measure of support, Paul unpacks how the broader sytem, and forces well beyond their influence, inform and impact lives.
From converting local spaces to cultivating places where low-income peoples can build and experience health relationships around food. Our discussion went from understanding the need to create intervening intiatives, centred around food insecurity and systems, to the ingenuity it takes to develop groundbreaking ideas that work.
Throughout the conversation, it became apparent that the secret sauce for launching ideas that have sustainable impact, stem from cultivating community-led ideas. Instead of designing ideas for the community, FoodShare is invested in designing ideas with the community.
Among FoodShare's community-led initiatives are;
Good Food Markets
One of the greatest insights was the state's complicity and accountability with respect to food security and access....which FoodShare puts on politicians as well as businesses that have "grown their profits on the backs of low-wage workers".
FoodShare is a community-led organization whose work centres around disrupting the food system - in a way that will make good healthy food accessible for all. Find and follow FoodShare and all its initiatives at foodshare.net
Find and follow Paul Taylor at paultaylorto.com
NOTE: This episode is the second part of a 2-Part interview with our guest.
(Part One) Path to Plate - Unpacking Food Systems with FoodShare's Paul Taylor
FoodShare is a community-led organization whose work centres around disrupting the food system - in a way that will make good healthy food accessible for all. As part of our mini-series finale on food (the space, the supporting systems and the people that drive and thrive in the ecosystem), 54Lights sat down with FoodShare's Executive Director Paul Taylor to talk about the impact of the organization.
An Ontarian with close ties to his lineage and his Kittitian roots, Paul spoke to us about those who've influenced and informed his path (his mother and grandmother among them) as he was growing up. At a young age, he tuned into the systematic injustices that lead to food insecurity and how it impacted the most vulnerable communities in our society - ones that not-so-coincidentally are disproportionately black, brown and indigenous.
Paul's outlook, one that's grown over time and with the contribution of his fellow activists, is devoted to understanding the organizing principals that lead to emergencies within our world. And while these crusaders continue the hard work of understanding societal injustice, they work diligently to dismantle its constructs including anti-black racisim.
According to FoodShare, "It's our time to lead" and the discussion dove into the reasons why, at this critical juncture, there might be a sliver of hope and promise. From community to activists to social movements, Paul calls upon all citizens to step forward by looking at their communities, and the things that happen within them, and to understand why injustice occurs. Lastly, Paul leaves and invites listeners to challenge the status quo by getting politically involved - contacting local government officials to make sure that they feel the political will and impetus to move towards sustainable progress.
Find and follow FoodShare at foodshare.net
Find and follow Paul Taylor at paultaylorto.com
NOTE: This is a 2-Part interview featuring our guest.
Loving the Triple Threat with KIF Radio
In our latest episode of 54Lights we were joined in our virtual studios by the three driving forces behind KIF Radio. KIF is an innovative podcast that features music from emerging artists in the world of AfroBeats, Hip Hop and R&B. The show is masterfully managed by Grace Saqui and features addictive beats curated by two of the most impressive DJs on the planet - IMVNZI and Sound Curator. More than just DJs, the two have dedicated their life to sound - having come up as dancers, rappers and now DJs.
The four of us had an illuminating conversation where KIF shared openly about their unique show format - one that showcases 15 tracks plus some introductory interviews with up and coming musicians. They explained the painstaking paths they take to find gems in a crowded marketplace and how they use their background in music to inform their choices - picking only the best on the globe. The team also opened up about how they move the crowd - the psyche that's needed to get the "room's" energy to peak.
Before we closed the show, the team at KIF spoke to us about their love of music and what went into their name. As deep rooted as the thought and purpose that's gone into their colourful and ever-evolving monikers.
An episode that's definitely not to be missed! Lean in and listen out loud.
About KIF Radio
KIF Radio is in its second year KIF Radio is a bi-weekly music podcast showcasing nothing but the most recent R&B & African vibes from the legends of tomorrow. Hosted by IMVNZI and Sound Curator.
IMVNZI - aka Le Penseur
Sound Curator - aka Creative Fly
Projects and Affiliations
KIF Radio recently joined Braided Media. Braided is a podcast network of Raw and Refined shows and storytelling created by people of African descent for a global audience
Where's My Jollof!?! with Chef Kwasi
As part of our foray into the world of culinary delights we spent time with Chef Kwasi - Ghanian entrepreneur who's based in Toronto. Kwasi talked to us about his love of food and why it brings him, and his patrons, happiness. From the painstaking care he takes in making meals to the compassion and care that goes into seeking ingredients, Kwasi's catering company is tantalizing tastebuds of customers of all stripes. Kwasi is a marvel in the kitchen, having learned cooking skills from his mother. He now continues to create amazing food while also enjoying the richness found in other culture - from his fandom of poutine to his appreciation and respect for Italian delicacies.
And while the charismatic chef will have you craving his variety of great dishes, he did wade into some contentious, and playful, waters. In the peak of our episode we speak candidly, yet with genuine playfulness, about the great jollof (rice) debate. Ghana vs Nigeria?
Spoiler Alert: Kwasi is a proud Ghanian...so you can only guess which of the two national dishes he'd serve first.
To Taste n See great dishes from our guest - please visit - Taste n See
To find out what people are saying about the great debate, follow us or send us your vote on IG (@crowd54)
Pole Position with Toka Murphy
As a shout out to racing fans across the globe, 54Lights is proud to elevate our inspiring conversation with Toka Murphy - a 23 year old racing phenom. Toka sat down with us weeks before the now cancelled Montreal F1 Grand Prix. The athlete took us through his obsession with cars and opened up about how he took a casual adoration of the sport to an immersive fascination. From car meets to friends inviting him to take the wheel to painstaking hours learning the craft from industry experts.
The humble young man found a way to raise money to get his license and soon connected with Patrik Wittmer and his four sons (Kuno, Karl, Nick and Kurt) - a racing family whose influence and intellect are having a tremendous impact on the sport. Patrik, and his family, are huge supporters of Toka and have helped teach him critical skills needed to move up in the racing world. With that said, the realities of racing, the financial burden it holds and the associated struggles off the racetrack became a topic of reflection during our time together. And while the money management that's inherent in the sport could be a deterrent, Toka's taken it all in stride...embracing that obstacle as a challenge he knows he'll overcome. He helps us draw illuminating analogies between sports like tennis and golf where the burden of participation comes with a hefty price tag. From getting sponsors to getting access to the track and, finally supporting the teams that make up a crew.
The business of driving and the strategies needed to navigate the minutae of life outside the rigors of the race. And finally, of no small note is the reality that Toka is a black man in a sport that's got barely a handful.
Lean in and listen to a great conversation with a young man whose mature well beyond his years.
Learn more about our guest - Toka Murphy - https://tokamurphy.com/
An embrace to Afrocentrism!
So much fun listening to all these unique stories... both the cultural narrative and human experience are so refreshing. Well done Kondwani, looking forward to S2
An insightful listen!
So great to see this podcast come to life. It’s such an insightful listen filled with the vibrant cultures that make up Africa. Would definitely recommend!