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PHOTOS/VIDEO: Rising-star Surrey musicians shine at sold-out concert

Maddy Lofvendahl, on guitar, performs with keyboard player Benjamin Millman during the Music City Showcase concert at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Last Saturday night I enjoyed a front-row seat to see 12 rising stars on the Surrey music scene, and the concert did not disappoint.

Some impressive talent gathered at Surrey Arts Centre’s cabaret-vibe Studio Theatre, where Sami Ghawi and his FUSIONpresents company staged the second Music City Showcase in partnership with Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey Civic Theatres and others.

The musicians each performed two songs during the sold-out concert, co-emceed by Ghawi and Keely Rammage-Scott.

For $28 a ticket, it was a night of diverse talent including FKA Rayne, Argel MDR, Colin Sankey, Wilona Joy, Tess Anderson, Vercenzo, Jessie Cavalier, Maddy Lofvendahl, Glisha, Haleluya Hailu, Matt Hermano and Richard Tichelman.

Three years ago, Music City Surrey Showcase was launched to spotlight Surrey-area musicians in a series of videos, and last year’s inaugural Showcase concert featured many of the musicians who performed during pandemic-era online shows presented by FUSIONpresents and Surrey Board of Trade’s Music City Centre project.

To watch video of some of the featured artists, click on my Facebook post below.

Musician and FUSIONpresents company boss Sami Ghawi shows his love for Surrey during the Music City Showcase concert at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Ahead of Saturday’s concert, this year’s Showcase artists were profiled in another series of videos posted to FUSIONpresents’ Youtube channel, with interviews and music.

Their bios are posted below:

Colin Sankey is a bass player, composer and arranger from Surrey. He’s been compared to Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller and Alain Caron for his use of extended techniques, such as tapping and harmonics.

Argel MDR is a Filipino-Canadian singer/songwriter among finalists of CBC’s Toyota Searchlight 2021 and the Music Category winner of Surrey Board of Trade’s 2022 Surrey Art and Business Awards.

Described as “raw, authentic and relatable,” singer-songwriter Wilona Joy was born in Nigeria and raised in Surrey. She’s currently working on a single, out this month.

Tess Anderson is said to captivate audiences with moxie-filled performances. Combining the gloss of pop with heavy grit of alternative-rock, she fronts a five-piece band and has opened for Mother Mother at the Commodore Ballroom.

A UBC music grad, Héctor Darío González Aguirre, known as Vercenzo, began singing at age seven and possesses a diverse musical background, from salsa/pop to Mozart arias.

A singer/songwriter based in Surrey, Jessie Cavalier draws inspiration from Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams, Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter. She released a self-produced song in 2022, and plays local gigs with plans to release more music.

Maddy Lofvendahl has a debut EP is set to hit streaming platforms this spring. The 21-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist makes music combining elements of pop and R&B with hints of funk and jazz — upbeat and soulful.

The award-winning Glisha, 20, began writing and recording her own songs in 2018 after years of doing covers and performing at events since a young age. Her R&B-influenced sound earned her Best Female Artist at the 2020 Fraser Valley Music Awards.

FKA Rayne, an alternative singer/songwriter, pairs elements from her prior stint as a pop musician alongside heavy, industrial and nu metal-influenced production and song structure.

Also from Surrey, Haleluya Hailu is a multi-instrumentalist, poet and activist who turns “the awkward transition to adulthood into songs that anyone could lose themselves in.”

Raised in Surrey, Matt Hermano began crafting songs at age 16. His diverse musical influences are rooted in ‘70s Motown and 2000s music. In September Hermano released a debut single, “Lost in Your Eyes,” followed by ““One Night Love” on Jan. 10.

Charismatic pop artist Richard Tichelman is a Surrey success story. He started 2023 with the single “Red Lights,” continued with “Missing You” and plans to release a debut album this spring called “Out of Love.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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