Duane D.O. Gibson Brings ‘Black Music 365’ Tour to Students Across Ontario
He’s also the Guinness World Record holder for longest freestyle rap
TORONTO, February 3, 2023 – Black History Month has become a year-round thing for Toronto rapper and motivational speaker Duane D.O. (Defy the Odds) Gibson.
Hitting schools across Toronto, Newmarket, and Midland from February 15 to 17, his annual “Black Music 365” tour offers students across the country insights into the musical contributions from Black Canadian talent – from Drake, and Oscar Peterson on down.
In a one-hour presentation, the polite father of two delves into such history and delivers some raps – sure to get the students’ attention. This all comes quite naturally to Gibson, whose dad was a minister and whose mom was a teacher.
“I think what kids respond to, it’s not just hearing (a lecture). There’s videos playing. They can really enjoy the music, It’s edutainment,” he says.
“It’s getting kids engaged. It really works. And connecting with kids is important.”
“Black Music 365” is a corollary of his “Black Canadian 365” tour, which runs throughout the year. Meanwhile, his “Stay Driven” program has reached out to thousands of Canadian kids since 2001, addressing leadership, peer pressure, and anti-bullying, and anti-violence.
“Black Canadian 365” was created to show Black History is not just 28 days, but 365,” he explains. “And I wanted to create a resource. Having a resource like that when I was a kid would have been invaluable.”
Gibson points to such Black Canadian heroes as late baseball legend Jackie Robinson (who played in the minor leagues with the Montreal Royals), action movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (whose father was born in Nova Scotia), and former Nova Scotia lieutenant governor Mayann Francis (who inspired his song “One Woman Can Change The World”).
“I think role models are important now because of all the things kids have gone through, coming back from Covid, negotiating this world,” he comments.
“When I’m talking about Black History, it’s giving kids role models to look up to — and especially there are so many impressive Canadian black women. It’s (very) important for young women.”
Gibson was 15 when he began writing raps in a rhyme book. He moved down from Sault St. Marie to Toronto to study English at York University, graduating with honours in 2001.
His cool Art Of Fresh duo with Slakah the Beatchild saw its 2010 single “Out This World” reach No. 1 on the U.S. College Hip-Hop charts. His singles rotate on MuchMusic, and he has played sold-out shows across Canada, and in cities around the world. What’s more, he’s the Guinness World Record holder for performing the longest freestyle rap — lasting for 8 hours and 45 minutes!
This long-time indie recording artist prides himself on being entrepreneurial.
“I think that is important,” he offers. “For me, being a Canadian, as a kid I saw record labels weren’t going to sign me.”
“It’s like with Jay-Z. People are seeing him flash jewelry, but in his raps he’s talking about how you have to be entrepreneurial.”
Last fall, Gibson co-launched The Freefallers, a folk/blues/rap project with the Cape Breton-based Keith Mullins, which has allowed him to explore his own Cape Breton roots. And he released his second book “On This Grind” about his life lessons in the music business.
In 2023 fans can expect him to collaborate on singles with the likes of Socrates, Slakah the Beatchild, and (four-time Juno nominee) Ammoye.
And for the sixth consecutive year he will be at the Grammy Awards celebration, February 5 in Los Angeles.
“In the past, I put on showcases and hustled for Canadian musicians. But this year I’m just attending,” he relates. “You never know who you will see there. Last year I had a chance to take a selfie with (comedian) Trevor Noah (who hosts the Grammys for a third straight year in 2023).”
D.O. GIBSON – BLACK MUSIC 365 TOUR SCHEDULE
*note: presentations are for students of each respective school and not open to the public
January 10, 2023 – Chilliwack, BC – Imagine High Integrated Arts and Technology School
January 10, 2023 – Langley, BC – Gordon Greenwood Elementary
January 11, 2023 – Chilliwack, BC – GW Graham Secondary
January 11, 2023 – Chilliwack, BC – Chilliwack Secondary
January 12, 2023 – Aldergrove, BC – North Otter Elementary
January 12, 2023 – Fort Langley, BC – Langley Fine Arts School
January 13, 2023 – Port Coquitlam, BC – Maple Creek Middle School
January 13, 2023 – Maple Ridge, BC – Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary
January 16 – January 20, 2023 – Burnaby, BC – Michael J Fox Theatre
January 25, 2023 – Toronto, ON – Our Lady of Victory
January 26, 2023 – Woodbridge, ON – Guardian Angels
January 27, 2023 – Markham, ON – Cornell Village
January 27, 2023 – Aurora, ON – Devins Drive
February 6, 2023 – Woodbridge, ON – St. Emily
February 6, 2023 – King City, ON – Holy Name
February 9, 2023 – Mississauga, ON – Fallingbrook
February 10, 2023 – Waterloo, ON – St. Kateri Catholic
February 15, 2023 – Newmarket, ON – St. Elizabeth Seton
February 16, 2023 – Toronto, ON – Ursula Franklin
February 17, 2023 – Midland, ON – St. Theresa’s Catholic High School
February 21, 2023 – Richmond Hill, ON – Macleod’s Landing
February 23, 2023 – Maple, ON – St. Clare CES
February 23, 2023 – Markham, ON – St. Michael Academy
February 24, 2023 – Brampton, ON – Castlemore
March 29, 2023 – Richmond Hill, ON – Richmond Rose
April 11, 2023 – West Vancouver, BC – West Bay Elementary
May 1, 2023 – Oakville, ON – St. Mary Catholic
May 2, 2023 – Richmond Hill, ON – St. John Paul II
May 3, 2023 – West Hants, NS – West Hants Middle School
by Mike Beggs
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