- Category: Arts
- Written by Jane Pascale
AfroToronto.com''s Jane Pascale Meets with Dwayne Morgan
Dwayne Morgan is one of Toronto’s best known spoken word artists. He has published multiple works including CDs of his art, and five books of poetry.
Morgan is also the founder of Up From The Roots Entertainment, through which he organizes spoken word, and poetry events. After twelve years in the game he has received several awards including the African Canadian Achievement Award, the Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts, and two Canadian Urban Music Awards for Best Spoken Word Recording.
Despite the local and international recognition, Dwayne Morgan remains very humble and down-to-earth, arriving at the release of his recent book in a simple t-shirt and jeans.
The book is entitled The Making of a Man, a process that started when he was only 18 years old after he realized that through poetry and spoken word he had the opportunity to tell stories about society that weren’t necessarily being told. He wanted to provide alternative perspectives to what people generally hear in the mainstream media.
His early influences include Black Cat, Little X, and Jelani (otherwise known as J-Wize on Flow 93.5).
Dwayne Morgan has performed not only throughout Canada , but also in the U.S. , England , Germany , Barbados , France , Hungary , Jamaica , and Holland .
So how receptive has Toronto been towards the spoken word scene?
“For a city that’s supposed to be progressive and multi-cultural, Toronto does not have many spoken word events. If you go to cities in Europe, and the States, even some small cities in the States where you would never expect these events to be happening, and every week they have packed events for spoken word and poetry.”
While he admits he has a bit of a love-hate relationship with Toronto
because of this, Toronto is still home, and he will keep trying to
draw people to the art form.
“I will keep doing what I have to do to try and get people to tune into
this whole movement of people speaking about issues that are affecting all of us, that a lot of times people don’t want to talk about.”
Not an easy task in an age where so many seem content to turn off their minds and let the TV think for them, this undertaking must pose many challenges.
“Getting people to gravitate towards this as an art form, but also finding ways to live off of what you’re passionate about. That’s a major and ongoing obstacle, to figure out how you’re going to constantly be doing this, long-term. Being as independent as I am, money is an obstacle because I choose to produce all of my own albums, and publish all of my own books, so getting the money to do all of those things is sometimes a challenge as well.”
So what does the future hold for Up From The Roots and Dwayne Morgan?
“Up From The Roots is going to keep providing quality entertainment in this city. We’re always looking for new ideas and new things to do to entertain people so that they have an option other than the club scene to enjoy themselves.”
Morgan also wants to use the skills he has developed throughout his career to help other artists. In the fall, UFTR will be putting out a comedy album, with Jean Paul and Mark Trinidad, two local comedians he admires.
As for personal goals, Morgan has started putting together a DVD of his work. He would also like to do a lot more traveling and performing internationally. He also would like to do more acting following his brief appearances in a commercial for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a play called Memphis , as well as the movie Honey.
What keeps Dwayne Morgan grounded?
“I just feel blessed to do what I love every single day. I always believe in trying to help other
people around me. I’m all about building community and trying to help people, and
I don’t think you can really do that if you put yourself up there and
think everyone else is below you.”
For more about Dwayne Morgan and Up From the roots, visit: www.upfromtheroots.ca
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