Winnipegger pairs O Canada with afrobeats to celebrate ‘what Canada stands for’
Over two years ago, taking the oath of Canadian citizenship and listening to the words of O Canada, Ayodele Odeyemi, from Winnipeg, said he felt very patriotic. But as he listened, he thought maybe he could brighten up the anthem.
“You know Africans love their music. We love to groove. We love to dance. We love our drums. I’m like, ‘I can breathe something in here,'” Odeyemi said with a smile.
It was the inspiration for O Canada (celebration song) – a collaboration between Odeyemi and Nigerian artist Opeyemi Olatunji, who performs under the name YemyTPX. The reworked version of the anthem went live on May 8.
Odeyemi came up with the idea to infuse the alternative anthem with elements of Afrobeats – a style of music that combines West African musical elements – as well as vocal work from the Africanad community choir in Winnipeg and a range of styles. different batteries.
The new song features the Nigerian pronunciation of “Canada” – resembling the Huron-Iroquois word “kanata”, which is we think that’s where the name “Canada” comes from.
WATCH | O Canada (celebration song):
Odeyemi shared his idea with artist YemyTPX who went on to become the lead singer, writer and songwriter.
“As an artist and songwriter, this was an opportunity for me to express, stretch and explore the gift of musical creation,” YemyTPX said.
They have been collaborating abroad since last year. Due to Manitoba public health orders, African choir singers, primarily based in Winnipeg, had to send digital files separately for mixing.
Odeyemi says he has seen Canadians, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, also fight racial injustice, deal with mental health issues and deal with the fallout from an ongoing opioid crisis. He thought the time had come to release the song to bring people together.
“This song was meant for that time and to reassure all Canadians, whatever their race, whatever their skin color … that the main thing we need is to celebrate each other, to love each other and to to support each other, and that’s what Canada stands for, ”said Odeyemi, who arrived in Canada from Nigeria in 2015.
He is also the founder of Africanad – a Winnipeg-based business community he founded in 2019 that his website says works to “develop and celebrate Africans and the Caribbean in Canada and around the world.” .
Now that the song is out, there has been a big positive response from many different communities, Odeyemi says. He said he was asked why he didn’t choose a local artist as his lead artist, and said he initially asked several local artists, but they didn’t see his take on the song and refused the opportunity.
“You can have a dream and you can live with great people who have great voices who could make it happen [a] more perfect job than this – but they might not believe your dream, ”Odeyemi said.
“And me [was] it does not seem like it. I won’t let anyone give up on this dream. I want to do something. ‘”
Asked about his aspirations for the song, he said he hopes all Canadians will embrace the song as a second version of the anthem.
“O Canada (celebration song) must be used, must be sung, must belong to all Canadians, ”Odeyemi said.
“I want it to become a house song. A house song that [when] you wake up in the morning, as school students sing from kindergarten to grade 12. They sing in the morning singing O Canada. ”
Then a clip for O Canada (celebration song) will be released on May 27.