Music has played an integral role in Lynn Olagundoye’s life, throughout her childhood and well into adulthood. The Calgary-based singer/songwriter, producer and overall creative recalls the roots of her musical interests.

“I grew up surrounded by music mainly, of course, traditional Nigerian music and a lot of soul/ hip hop was definitely the music of my youth,” says Olagundoye.

Olagundoye was introduced to music at a very young age and her passion for music never waned. It wasn’t until she entered college that she began singing professionally, working with local band Guerilla Funk Monster which then led her to write her first solo album African Violet.

“From there, I just continued to write and to perform and I’ve just been steadily doing that for many years now,” says Olagundoye. “And I love it. Absolutely love it.”

Black History Month: Alberta Spotlight with Lynn Olagundoye and Karimah

For Black History Month in February, the National Music Centre teamed up with Olagundoye and Edmonton-based singer/songwriter Karimah for the Alberta Spotlight, a monthly event that features and supports Alberta musicians. Olagundoye planned for the evening to be more than a concert.

“It’s not just a concert. I really wanted to share a powerful message through poem or a spoken word and take people on a journey through the history of black culture,” says Olagundoye.

Olagundoye’s music is influenced by various genres says Adam Fox, director of programs at the National Music Centre.

“The thing to know about Lynn is that she isn’t really genre-defined. You’ll hear R&B, you’ll hear soul but then you’ll also hear flavors of afro-beat, even latin music and of course, even some elements and flavours of pop music in the last 50 years,” says Fox.

Although Alberta’s population comes from many different cultures and backgrounds, the province falls behind when it comes to acknowledging diversity. While Canada has recognized Black History Month since 1995, Alberta only began acknowledging it since 2017.
Olagundoye 04NEW copyCalgarian-based singer/songwriter and music producer, Lynn Olagundoye singing at the National Music Centre in Calgary’s East Village. Photo by Kiah Lucero
“I think that’s something that as a province — I don’t think we recognize or acknowledge the diversity of cultures, backgrounds that make up this province’s strength,” says Fox.

The National Music Centre aims to highlight the diversity of Alberta and Canada’s music scene adds Fox.

“For us to be able to focus on that a bit and share those stories of black Canadians and how it’s made a huge impact in music.”

For Olagundoye, Black History Month was an opportunity for her to share not only the past of black culture but also how the black community and society as a whole can look towards the future. She views it as a time for people to learn more about black culture.

“What’s very important to me is that people understand that we’re more than just the dark spot in our history. The turmoil and hardship that black people have faced is definitely something that we need to work through,” says Olagundoye.

“But I also want us to come together and celebrate the contributions that we make.”

The power of music

The art of music is more than just a melody and beat. Music’s ability to create human connections within society is what makes music a key component of our lives.

“I think [music] is a very, very powerful tool. I think it’s one of the few things on this planet that transcends race, gender, sexual orientation. I think that with that authentically and coming from a pure place, I think it has the potential to create hope and connections between people,” says Olagundoye.
guitaristNEWLynn Olagundoye jams with her lead guitarist at the National Music Centre. Photo by Kiah Lucero

Olagundoye sees the value in music and art as a form of communication and that it can be used as a tool to help fight against the hatred, racism and discrimination that we find in our world today. She says that although it seems like we’re living in a dark time, she tries to see it as a chance to change in the right direction.

“Music does not limit — there [are] no limits to what you can do with music if it’s done authentically. I think that’s why it is used as a tool over and over and over again, to kind of share that message of love and peace and fighting for people’s rights. For some reason, I think people are able to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough when it is communicated through music or art.”

Editor: Rayane Sabbagh |

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