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Reggae In Celebration Square

After turning Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square into a little bit of Jamaica earlier this month, the TD Irie Music Festival is set to do the same to Celebration Square this weekend (Aug. 23 and 24).

The reggae, calypso and soca “riddims” will continue in Mississauga with Grammy winner Richie Stephens (Soul II Soul) and soca legend David Rudder headlining the entertainment. Steele and Moses Revolution are the opening acts.

“Mississauga is beautifully and culturally very diverse, so it’s an ideal fit,” said artistic director and co-founder Phil Vassel. “And having it here is great for people who don’t want to go to Toronto.”

A grassroots music festival when it was launched in Toronto 12 years ago, the festival is today the GTA’s biggest showcase of reggae and world music.

But even before the music starts there’s plenty of attractions and cultural activities designed to showcase everything Caribbean – from visual arts to spicy food to tropical drinks.

After working under Motown Records and spending time as a singer for the Grammy-winning group Soul II Soul in the early ’90s, Stephens turned his career toward reggae, ska, and contemporary gospel. He has released several dancehall singles such as Winner, Bus the Place and Slop Dem.

From New York City to London to Tokyo, Rudder has been described as modern calypso’s most innovative songwriter. Born in Belmont, Trinidad, he began singing at the age of 11 with a group called The Solutions. In 1977, he became the lead singer for the brass band Charlie’s Roots.

Described as dynamic and sensational, Steele has performed to rave reviews at Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest, Toronto’s Caribana Island Jam and Jamaica Day Celebration, Winnipeg’s Caribbean Festival and the Calgary Reggae Festival. He has won Reggae Music Achievement Awards for Best Male Vocalist of the Year, Best Songwriter of the Year, Top CD/Album of the year (The Love of Jah) and Artist of the Year.

Formed in 2001, soca masters Moses Revolution have toured extensively to Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa. Their repertoire consists of several genres including calypso, reggae, zouk and R&B. The band has released two CDs and are currently in the studio working on their third album.

The festival runs noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

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