“Who’s drinking? Put your drinks up in the air,” says genre-defying singer Saidah Baba Talibah, as she hovers her hands above her eyes to see beyond the spotlight placed on her and her band.

As fans gradually grab drinks and fill the Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret in Toronto on a Thursday night, most show their appreciation for the independent artist by wearing a black and white pin with the singer’s name. Staying true to rock ‘n’ roll, the stunning vocalist wears a Black Sabbath T-shirt, while she plays songs off her first album as well as tracks from her new album Red, Black & Blue.

Before she rocks into “Bang It Back”, Saidah poses a question for a woman in the front of the audience. “Should I ask you if you have panties on…’cause they may drop!”

When the singer changes the punk vibe to a slow jazz tempo, with a performance of “High”, everything falls silent for her voice, unlike at the beginning of the show when Saidah tries to speak to the audience, but the side conversations overpower her short speech.

Saidah seems to tap into the spirit of the totem animals she named her album after as her captivating essence becomes much too large for the petite platform. But the small stage didn’t limit Saidah one bit.

As Saidah performs a cover of a Rage Against the Machine song, groups of people jump, rock out and scream out the lyrics: “F*ck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” Through the message in her music, Saidah knows how to stir the rebel out of her fans.

The crowd couldn’t resist but yell out for an encore. She plays two more songs, including a cover of Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass” to end the night.

Words By. Faduma Mohamed + Photos By. Iris Gill