Joe Sealy and Jackie Richardson offer an amazing reworking of Sealy’s JUNO-winning recording Africville Suite (1996). Africville, a small community located on the southern shore of Bedford Basin, Halifax, Nova Scotia, was populated almost entirely by Black Nova Scotians, many of whom were originally former slaves from the United States, Black Loyalists who were freed by the Crown during the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
The city neglected the community through the first half of the 20th century, and it struggled with poverty and poor health conditions. Its buildings became badly deteriorated. During the late 1960s, Halifax condemned the area, relocating its residents to newer housing in order to develop the nearby A. Murray MacKay Bridge, related highway construction, and the Port of Halifax facilities at Fairview Cove to the west.
The defunct community has become an important symbol of Black Canadian identity and the struggle against racism. The site was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996 as being representative of Black Canadian settlements in the province and as an enduring symbol of the need for vigilance in defence of their communities and institutions. After years of protest and investigations, in 2010 the Halifax Council ratified a proposed "Africville apology," under an arrangement with the federal government, to compensate descendants and their families who had been evicted. In addition, an Africville Heritage Trust was established to design a museum and build a replica of the community church. A commemorative waterfront park has been renamed as Africville.
"Africville has deep meaning in my life. Established in the early 1800's on the edge of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Africville was the oldest urban black community in Canada, and the birthplace of my father. For over 100 years this tightly knit community survived with its own school, post office, church and strong sense of pride. The city collected taxes from homeowners but failed to provide residents with basic services such as paved roads, running water and sewers. Instead, railway lines were run through Africville, a stone quarry and even a dump were placed on the edge of it. Eventually, a combination of social consciousness and urban renewal was the excuse to get the residents off their own land. Homeowners were offered so little money for their properties that in many cases they were left little choice but to move into city-owned housing which was itself slated for demolition. Those who refused or were slow to leave, often found themselves scrambling out of the back door with their belongings as the bulldozers were coming in the front. Yet in spite of all this, the spirit of Africville remains alive and strong. The Africville Suite is dedicated to the memory of this once proud community, and to my dad."
- Joe Sealy
Joe Sealy has enjoyed a highly successful career as a musician, composer, recording artist and radio broadcaster. His Juno Award winning Africville Suite inspired Ron Foley MacDonald of The Halifax Daily News to write; “This may be the most important jazz album released in Canada this year”. Joe has presented “The Africville Suite” in concert venues and at music festivals across Canada as well as Denmark, Norway and the USA.
As a pianist, he has toured with “Blood Sweat and Tears” and performed with such artists as Joe Williams, Milt Jackson, Veronica Tennant, and Timothy Findlay. As well, Joe and his longtime music partner Paul Novotny have created a unique sounding jazz duo. Together they have released four CD’s, achieved two Juno nominations and shared the concert stage in Montreal & Toronto jazz festivals with Michel Petruciani, Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden, Red Mitchell/Herb Ellis and the Bobo Stenson Trio.
Besides being president of Triplet Records Inc., Joe has hosted his own weekly radio show “Joe Sealy’s Duets” on Jazz FM 91. Joe was also the music director of the acclaimed “Tonya Lee Williams Gospel Jubilee” television special and several CBC radio specials including “East Coasting” and “Viola Desmond”. He has recently composed original film scores for two documentary films entitled, “The Little Black School House” and “Directors Speak”. Most recently, Joe acted as producer, arranger and pianist on a CD entitled “Mostly About You” featuring vocalist Colin Hunter.