Nfld. & Labrador

Musician Winnie Churchill grows from 'I' to 'Us' on his newest album

Winnie Churchill spent time in Toronto before arriving in St. John's, bringing a genre-crossing sound that incorporates acoustic guitar, hip-hop beats and spoken word.

Have a First Listen to Us by Winnie Churchill

St. John's Musician Winnie Churchill released his newest album, Us, in November, a follow up to his 2018 EP titled I. (Erik Mclean)

When St. John's hip hop artist Winnie Churchill finished creating his first album, titled I, he always knew what the next progression is his music would be.

"Us was always in the plans as we worked on I two years prior," Churchill told CBC Radio's Weekend AM.

"Us was always a thought process that we were in.… It was supposed to be influenced by everything else. The world, how the world felt in times like COVID … or how me and a group of my friends felt."

Churchill spent time in Toronto before arriving in the province, bringing a genre-crossing sound that incorporates acoustic guitar, hip-hop beats and spoken word. His family came to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago, allowing him to see the similarities between the islands.

"The island cultures are very similar," he said. "We eat from the water, we love to have fun, and it's a very close-knit island, for sure. Exactly the same."

A growing influence

Churchill said his newest album's title carries a couple of different levels of significance: the idea that his work couldn't be done without a growing production team, and the personal growth that came from  to Us.

"You come into this world and you have this mind of your own, and this imagination. That's what I was about, completely from my own mind," he said. "But at some point when you're growing up, you start to feel everything else. You start to feel for the world, or for your friends or your loved one.

Musician Winnie Churchill has embraced island connections between his background in Trinidad and Tobago and his current home in Newfoundland. (Blake Wakely)

"You start to gain these relationships that you no longer have control of … your imagination starts to broaden. Us just had to be influenced by all these new things that I was learning growing up, and all these ways that I felt. And I'm sure a lot of other people feel too."

The idea of expressing feelings is shown throughout the album, highlighted by 14 Days & Counting, written just days into the pandemic.

"There was this moment where nobody knew what was gonna happen. Everyone was being sent home from work," he said. "Me and my girlfriend, we didn't know if we were going to see each other for a little bit of time due to where we were living.… It was a time when it was very scary.

"It was the only way that we could get those words out. How does the world feel together? How do we all feel?"

LISTEN | Winnie Churchill talks about his new recording with Paula Gale:

Paula Gale's guest this weekend on First Listen is Winnie Churchill 17:14

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You can hear First Listen on Sundays on Weekend AM from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. (5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in Labrador) on CBC Radio One.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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