There ain’t no stoppin’ us now is not just a sentiment expressed through music, it is a driving force for musician George St. Kitts as he takes his show on the virtual road.
This month, in honour of Black History Month, the Snowball-based singer has rethought and revived his popular Love Train Revue show for a digital realm, a reboot that is not just about music but the accomplishments of Black Canadians, as well.
The Love Train Revue, which was launched online Friday, February 5, and will take place on Facebook each Friday night at 8 p.m. through February 26, is a blend of Motown, Jazz, Funk, Blues, Reggae and more.
In the first show, music met the life of the late Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first Black Member of Parliament and the first person of colour to represent the Queen in Canada as Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Mr. St. Kitts shared vignettes from Alexander’s storied life, tied to song.
“Lincoln Alexander talked about the love of his life, how he lost his wife, how they fell in love, and one of the songs I really latched onto was the Reggae song, ‘She Is Royal’, talking about his beautiful wife and what she meant to him,” said Mr. St. Kitts.
The accomplishments of pioneering hockey player Herb Carnegie were explored in the second installment on February 12. The athlete, who later dedicated himself to lending a hand to young hockey players, faced many obstacles due to race before ultimately getting on the ice and, among the many songs Mr. St. Kitts linked to his life, was another of Gaye’s tunes: “What’s Going On.”
“With all of the things that are going on in our society, like Black Lives Matter, what Herb had to go through, brothers and sisters coming together in love and unity. At the end of the show, we have ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, We’re On The Move’ and we’re going to keep moving on despite all the adversities we go through in life. Nothing is going to stop us, especially in this pandemic; we will get through this and we will prevail.”
A pandemic wasn’t going to stop George St. Kitts from getting back into the Love Train groove. While he was not averse to bringing the show online, he says he is a “stickler” for both good sound and good video, as well as the fact that people online need something great to hold their attention for more than 15 minutes.
“I just thought with Black History Month and the Love Train Review, I could bring some life back into it and do it,” he explains. “I am not getting paid because I love what I do, but I was kind of going back and forth whether to make it a ticketed event and charge people something so at least us, as the artists, can get something back because we’re all not working at all; we’re locked down. I thought, okay, let’s just do it for the month of Black History Month and do the show every Friday night and feature prominent Canadians, their struggles, and what they went through growing up in Canada, and, most importantly, being Canadian.”
While Mr. St. Kitts says he wants the stories to tell themselves, stating “I am just a performer,” these are stories he is curating for a very specific purpose.
“I want to not only educate people but let them know the wonderful things these giants have done in our society as Canadians. We always think of [leaders like] Martin Luther King, and they are great, but we always think of Americans and we have got them right here in Canada. The songs might be a little bit American, but the people are Canadian.
“I want [audiences] to leave saying, ‘That was a great show, fun to see, and maybe they can share it and enlighten others with it,’ just knowing we have some great Canadian talent here. COVID’s got us down, but we’re still kicking. I just want to entertain and share my joy of music with others.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran