Dub/reggae singer-songwriter gives voice to Toronto’s homeless

A decade in the past, after a dozen years of post-secondary research to earn a PhD in philosophy, and three extra as a professor of identical on the College of Ottawa, Paul Salvatori returned to his hometown of Toronto and had an epiphany.

“I bought again to doing group work, activism, journalism and it reawakened the need to assist deliver change to marginalized communities, which was such a spotlight in my teenagers,” Salvatori says. “That is what I wasn’t getting within the classroom – and I spotted I’m right here to make a distinction.”

Salvatori bid farewell to academia and entered the social service employee program at George Brown. He volunteered along with his mentor, famend homeless advocate Cathy Crowe, on the Shelter and Housing Justice Community, and commenced his personal particular person outreach to the homeless he encounters close to his Downsview space residence.

Now 41, he’s additionally a videographer, photographer, journalist, podcaster – and a dub/reggae singer-songwriter.

“I’m actually involved about how the marginalized – whether or not we’re speaking concerning the homeless, the racialized, the low revenue – don’t have an amplified voice within the mainstream,” Salvatori says. “Sometimes, we’ve got educated, skilled folks writing tales about them (in media and educational research), however what I want to create is an initiative … the place they’ll inform their very own tales on their very own phrases.”

That imaginative and prescient may embrace offering instruments and coaching to allow writing, documentary video, podcasting and pictures. Salvatori says the essential level is that “they’re the authors as an alternative of the topic. As a substitute of those being talked about, they’re those doing the speaking.”

Recording below simply his surname, Salvatori is now utilizing his expertise as an artist to “shine a lightweight” on homelessness in Toronto, which he describes as “a public well being catastrophe that we’ve form of simply normalized.

“I used to be considering rather a lot about music, not simply as leisure or an artwork type, however as a device to speak essential concepts with political relevance,” he says, citing Leonard Cohen and Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson as inspirations.

Album art for Salvatori's "You Lie."

Recorded in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer Peter Bull, Salvatori says he realizes his new seven-song unbiased EP “You Lie” won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. “It sounds experimental,” he says, “however it simply displays the darkish actuality of not simply the homeless lives of the folks I do know, however how I encounter them in these conditions. It’s additionally reflective of anger and frustration and fears concerning the well-being of the homeless.”

The mix of Bull’s avant-garde soundscapes and Salvatori’s deeply resonant, brooding, spoken-word collages take the listener on an unsettling journey into the lives of the folks like Domenico Saxida, the unofficial chief from Alexandra Park’s homeless encampment, who died not too long ago; and Kevin, who implored Salvatori to seize on video his message of “the ache and the phobia he felt being homeless.”

One monitor displays Salvatori’s emotions of watching police and social employees transfer in to clear the homeless encampment at Trinity Bellwoods Park final summer season: “Got here in like a squadron, horsemen harassing the homeless on the day of the eviction.”

Different lyrics pose questions: “I ponder what it’s like for the homeless to see us in snug houses, snug automobiles, snug garments … do they hate us? Envy us? Pity us?”

Salvatori hopes “You Lie” (obtainable through main streaming companies and YouTube) will invite folks to consider how society addresses homelessness, which he believes shouldn’t be seen as merely a reality of life in a giant metropolis. All proceeds from the EP might be donated to a homeless assist group.

He needs to sooner or later see Toronto reply to homelessness the way in which the Imaginative and prescient Zero marketing campaign is making an attempt to shift views about bicycle owner and pedestrian deaths – to deem it basically unacceptable.

“Issues stand to worsen if we don’t hearken to their voices, as a result of they’re finest located to essentially illuminate to us how dangerous that actuality is,” he says. “It is a political downside that may be rectified by means of collective motion and thru accountable management, so I’m inviting folks to consider how we will obtain that.”

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