People project: Singer Yolanda Sargeant shares her soul

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A report from Leah Hennel and Kerianne Sproule for The Calgary Herald.

Yolanda Sargeant has soul.

The Calgary writer and musician of Caribbean descent has a big personality and an even bigger voice. She grew up in a house full of music with parents who encouraged her to sing.

“My dad was a DJ, so he always had music playing Fridays and Saturdays at the house. He’d play records and we’d just dance.”

She sings with a distinct vocal tone, her huge voice juxtaposed with her tiny physical frame. Inspired by the jazz and soul musicians she grew up listening to, she lights up when talking about musicians that drive her.

“Sparrow, he is basically the Caribbean’s version of Frank Sinatra, but it’s . . . calypso-type stuff,” she says. She also lists Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.

Sargeant has teamed with rapper-producer Evgeniy Bykovets, who performs under the moniker DJ Comrade. Performing as Sargeant & Comrade, they’ve released an EP, played at the Sled Island festival and were one of the first three groups selected for Wild Rose Brewery’s nine month Artist-in-Residence program, which launched last Friday.

“Any time you do any kind of art it is scary, because you’re exposing a part of yourself that no one else can see, but only you can feel. You’re able to express those emotions,” she says. “It’s scary to a certain degree, but then you start to realize that it’s not really about you . . . it’s about the message that you’re supposed to share with other people.”

“That’s the beauty of art and music. You can have a particular feeling or an emotion and then be able to convey that to the listener.”

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