You’ve got to travel, travel the long road,” belts out Canadian R&B/Soul Queen Jully Black, in a call and repeat session with a packed Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto.

It’s about halfway through her two-hour headlining show during Canadian Music Week (CMW), titled “This Is For My City”, and the heart-warming number is proof of Miss Jully Black’s incredible 15-year journey in the music scene.

They closed so many doors on me, so I climbed right through the window,” continues Jully. Truer lyrics were never sung.

With no doubt one of the most epic shows of the entire week, the Queen came and she conquered.

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Emerging onto the Canadian music scene as a young woman at the same time as Kardinal Offishall and Baby Blue Soundcrew, Jully Black has accomplished many tall feats – singing hooks for the likes of Nas, signing south of the border and winning awards. Yet still it seems that she never quite got the respect she deserved; perhaps her hometown’s Screwface tendencies never fully allowed it to truly recognize her talents.

That was put to rest this CMW. With no doubt one of the most epic shows of the entire week, the Queen came and she conquered. For nearly 120 minutes straight, the songstress didn’t stop, except for quick sips of water and two speedy wardrobe changes.

“She puts on for her city. She’s one of Canada’s gems.” – Jemeni, G98.7 FM

Jully Black, complete with her full band, and dance squad led by Hollywood Jade, did exactly what host Jemeni of G98.7 FM said she does best.

“She puts on for her city,” says Jemeni, one half of G98.7 FM’s morning show, before the concert gets underway. “She’s one of Canada’s gems.”

With her family – everyone from her mom to her nieces and nephews – in the audience, Jully performed a range of her catalogue, including tracks like “Here 2 Love U” and “Fever” off of Jully Black The LP album, which her team handed out to all the patrons, as well as classics like “Sweat Of Your Brow”, “Running”, “Seven Day Fool” and “Rally’n”.

To the delight of fans, she even threw in some classic covers like Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved”, paying homage to her Jamaican heritage.

As the lights dim, and Jully cues her band to stop, she takes a moment to salute the people of Baltimore, and she says: “Once upon a time we couldn’t even be in this room together. This is for my Black people, my Asian people, my Indian people . . . ”

It’s a prolific moment as the band strikes up and the energy inside the venue reaches a fever pitch. Fists pumping in the air, both Jully and her fans sing repeatedly, “Break through the glass ceiling.”

And break it is exactly what Jully Black has done. Salute.

Photos By. Isa Ransome + Video By. Noel Ransome

Priya Ramanujam is the editor of Urbanology Magazine. She co-founded the publication in 2004 with Adrian McKenzie, while a journalism student at Humber College.

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