A powerful performance by d’bi young leaves audience members in tears. As she graphically expresses the intense scars of carried by a child being molested by a family, it is apparent that spoken word is her survival mechanism. Poets and audience members gravitate towards her, surrounding the award-winning poet with love and heartfelt hugs, the moment she completes her performance.

d’bi, along with over 300 supporters, came out to the state of the art Daniels Spectrum theatre in celebration of R.I.S.E. (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Poetry’s second anniversary milestone. The organization, spearheaded by artist Randell Adjei, has steadily grown since its humble beginnings of hosting weekly open mic nights, the first of which had just 23 people in attendance.

“If I see my people in the future then I have to show up for them today. The very least I can do is my best,” says the critically acclaimed artist.

Even politicians are on hand, paying close attention to the power behind the young artistic movement. Toronto mayoral candidate, Olivia Chow, addresses matters such as the government supporting artists by providing more grants and affordable housing for aspiring artists. Chow shares her story of attending the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) and having to pay for her education through working as a server, all because of the love she has for the arts.

“My life was transformed because of art,” says Chow, during her speech. “Art is the core of who I am.”

Later the Godfather of Canadian hip-hop, Maestro Fresh Wes, proves music is timeless. Pulling audience members — many of whom weren’t even born when Maestro began his rap career — onto the stage, the rapper turns the theatre hall into a concert. Rapper Dre Price Jeremy says he was nervous performing after such a legend.

“That was big, I had no idea of how I was going to follow him and d’bi young,” shares Jeremy. “But I just went out there. The crowd was giving me good energy and I just took it and ran with it.”

Words By. Moreblessing Munangwa + Photos By. Janelle Scott-Johnson