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This is why black music matters

As part of Black History Month, CBC Hamilton asked two black Hamilton musicians from two very different backgrounds to explain why black music is important in their own words.

Harrison Kennedy and Kojo 'Easy' Damptey explain what compels them to play

As part of black history month, we asked renowned Hamilton musician Harrison Kennedy a simple question - why is black music important? The answer is simple: it comes from within his own soul. 1:35

The influence black music has on Canada runs deep.

It's an integral part of our cultural identity, and helps shape who we are as people and as a nation.

As part of Black History Month, CBC Hamilton asked two black Hamilton musicians from two very different backgrounds to explain why black music is important, in their own words.

They come from distinctly different places in life. Harrison Kennedy has been playing in Hamilton for decades, had an international hit with The Chairmen of The Board, and has deep ties to the American south. He plays the blues like he was born to play it — because he probably was.

"The reality lies within my own soul," Kennedy said. "This music — the importance of black music."

"It comes from within me."

As part of black history month, we asked up and coming Hamilton musician Kojo "Easy" Damptey a simple question - why is black music important? It's because its a vehicle to tell stories, he says - of struggle, and of history. 1:39
Kojo 'Easy' Damptey, by contrast, is a fairly recent immigrant from Ghana, who plays politically charged R&B. He doesn't have the experience Kennedy has, but he knows just how cathartic playing this music can be.

"It has always come out of a struggle," Damptey said. "It's a tool to tell our stories and that's how I approach my music.

"I use it to tell stories that I have seen that are important to me as a Ghanaian, as an African, as an immigrant and as a black man."

Watch the two videos in the player above to hear both men explain their motivations in their own words, alongside tracks played live at CBC Hamilton.