London, ON – July 11th, 2019: TD Sunfest wrapped up its landmark 25th edition on Sunday, July 7th after four days of presenting more than 80 FREE-admission performances by 40 top world music & jazz groups from every corner of the globe, and attracting 600+ volunteers and a record number of visits from near and far, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, during Thursday evening’s opening ceremonies, praised the festival as “a showcase of the best of London and the best of Canada in its diversity.”
As part of its embrace of deserving national talent, the Sunfest Committee is thrilled to announce that this year’s $1500 Stingray Rising Stars Award at TD Sunfest goes to the band OKAN (meaning heart or soul). The eclectic Toronto-based Afro-Cuban roots & jazz collective is co-led by Elizabeth Rodriguez (violin) and Magdelys Savigne (percussion) and complemented by some of Canada’s finest Latin and jazz players such as Ottawa pianist Miguel de Armas, who joined the ensemble this past weekend at TD Sunfest.
Classically trained in Cuba, both Rodriguez and Savigne originally came to Canada as members of Maqueque, the awardwinning, all-female Cuban jazz group led by Canadian saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett. Although the core of OKAN’s sound reflects the women’s Afro-Cuban heritage, it’s enhanced by the culturally diverse influences they have absorbed while living in Toronto. OKAN has just begun a Canada/U.S. tour which will continue into 2020.
Through its Rising Stars program, Montreal-based Stingray Group Inc. offers cash awards and provides showcase opportunities to great new Canadian talent of all music genres. Launched in 1998 under the name Galaxie Rising Stars, this unique program is dedicated to discovering, encouraging, promoting, and championing new and up-and-coming Canadian artists. To date, more than 1,200 of this country’s leading musicians have received Stingray Rising Stars Awards, including Arcade Fire (2004), Serena Ryder (2009) and TD Sunfest winners Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra (2016).