Juno Award-winning reggae singer, songwriter, producer and social activist Kirk Diamond offers messages of unity and hope in his brand new single and music video for “Let It Be Done.” Following the release of the single, we spoke to Diamond about his experiences of injustice, political unrest, and his hopes for 2021.
Thanks for your time Kirk, how is life treating you at the moment?
Kirk Diamond: “I’m well, the family is well. I’m truly grateful. Interesting times so I do give thanks for being healthy in this time.”
For our readers who may not know a lot about you, could you give us a brief life story?
“Well, I was born in Jamaica. Moved to Canada in the mid-1990s. Fell in love with music here. Before it was just reggae and dancehall, but Canada being so diverse in cultures, music in general. Did everything music-related. Was a DJ briefly. My first tour was as a dancer then my artist career took over in about 2010. Nominated for my first Juno with my best friend in 2015. Won my first Juno in 2018 for my first EP Greater. I’ve performed in Mexico, the UK, Germany, and Jamaica since then.”
You have a new single out, “Let It Be Done,” which, I believe, was inspired by the current political and social climate. What was it that inspired you specifically to write the song?
“I wrote the song because of the discomfort I was feeling. In 2020, having to explain to my son what was happening. Why people are protesting. Add a pandemic and watch the entire world literally shut down. The best way I know how to get my thoughts across is through song and I’m from a family and culture that prays for everything so ‘Let It Be Done’ is my prayer in song form.”
What has your own life been like over the last few months?
“It has been quite busy actually. I’ve been in the studio with my band recording and writing about what we’ve been witnessing and feeling. Summer was different. A lot of outdoorsy activities. Hiking, which I’ve never done before.”
Mental health is another big concern brought up from the lockdown. How have you managed your own mental health through these challenging times?
“It’s a constant battle for me to be honest. To be locked inside has been rough. I usually get an escape mentally from performing. The energy from the crowd, people being together under the banner of love and music. What this does, however, is force you to have to self-reflect. I pray everyone will be ok after this time passes.”
You shot the video for the single in Uganda. What was the thought process behind doing that?
“I shot the video in Uganda because I wanted to show my audience that what we go through here isn’t just an American problem. Injustices happen across the globe. All while letting the African family know that I have them in my thoughts. My music is for them also. Music goes beyond where our physical selves are able to reach. If I can’t physically reach the world, I aspire for my words and message in music too.
Due to COVID-19, I was unable to actually make the trip. So, through a friend of mine, we were able to facilitate the shoot. One interesting thing that happened was a message I got saying if I was in Uganda to shoot the video I might have been arrested for, ‘trying to give hope to the people.’ I found that to be scary yet interesting.”
When life returns to relative normality (whatever that might be) in the future, what changes do you hope to see?
“I hope to see everyone excited to be around each other. No longer taking each other for granted, no matter their colour, culture or class.”
You’ve spoken about demonstrations over the past few months. Have you been involved in any protesting?
“I have. I was at four of them. Brampton, Ontario, the anti-racism protest in the Peel School Board and two other anti-racism protests in Toronto. Protest has to become a lifestyle for there to be any true change. One day, one month or one year of protesting won’t change centuries of oppression.”
What about inequality? What are your own experiences through your personal life and your music of inequality?
“I faced some inequality but those aren’t the ones that stand out to me and made me the way I am. My mother and father have faced so much and to hear their stories hurt deeply. I’ve heard my mom who’s a nurse in a nursing home just cut up by what residents say to her. My dad, due for a promotion, and the person in that position saying he refuses to retire for a black person to get his seat. Just to think about it hurt. They go through that hopefully so I wouldn’t have to or so their grandchildren wouldn’t. So, all of this is reflected in my message through music. Counteracting ignorance.”
Looking forward to 2021, what are your plans as a social activist and as a musician for the year ahead?
“My works are through music. I’ll be releasing music that speaks to it. The importance of unity. 2021 will be my most active year releasing music that I know for sure.”
Looking back over 2020, how would you sum it up for you and your family?
“It was filled with a lot of discussion, hand sanitizers, and masks.”
Thanks for your time, Kirk. Just to finish, on a personal note, what are your hopes for 2021?
“For 2021 I hope we will all be outside and laughing about how crazy 2020 was. I also hope everyone will appreciate the projects I release.”