Tuku Matthews

Tuku Matthews

  • Mentor
  • Music Composer
  • Performance
  • Singer-Songwriter
  • Sound Designer

I come to music via a powerful musical lineage – from a family of professional artists prominently rooted in jazz culture in Canada and the United States subsequently, I have been singing since the age of four, writing since the age of eight, and performing for more than 20 years. I have a relationship with music that reflects diversity not only in sound but also in experience. My early experiences began singing in my mother’s bands. Soon after, I ventured to forge my own career which started as a background vocalist touring extensively with The Jeff Healey Band and Quebecois pop star Roch Voisine. Following these experiences, I cofounded bLaXäM, my own original band, a seven-member group that featured three lead vocalists, four instrumentalists and a deep passion for fusing jazz with soul, layering complex harmonies with complex rhythms, and braving any other wonder-filled musical collisions that presented themselves along the way. 

Still singularly, one of my most impactful experiences as a vocalist occurred when I became the lead vocalist of The Merlin Factor, a Juno Award-winning contemporary jazz ensemble originating in and from Montreal. Singing with this ensemble taught me very distinct things about melody, phrasing, lyric, rhythm, articulation, dynamic and so much more. Being immersed in this very contemporary unique expression of jazz artistry encouraged me to challenge standard jazz gravities and explore sound in open and free space while preserving melodic integrity. 

My relationship with music in the now continues to evolve. Several years ago, I took leave from fulltime performing to consider new ways to approach my art-making process. Out of this space emerged opportunities to explore teaching and mentorship. Integrating teaching into my artistic practice offered both deep personal reflection as well as new ways to share the valuable wisdom I have gained from the performance experiences that have curated me. Working with the Royal Conservatory’s Wavelength Youth Outreach Program and Soulpepper Theatre’s Leading Ladies Mentorship Program provided me with a chance to transfer the following skill sets that were proven imperative to my capacity to sustain as a professional vocalist: patience, meticulous and methodical attention to detail, and deep listening. 

Most recently, I have had the opportunity to explore art creation from a theatrical platform through the WaTah Theatre. First, Founder and Artistic Director, d’bi young anitafrika, invited me to compose music for a cappella voice and present the melodic adaptation of audre lorde’s Need: a Chorale for Black Women at WaTah’s audre lorde Works-in-Progress Festival. Second, d’bi invited me to participate as a resident in the WaTah Theatre’s Trans-disciplinary Arts Program (TAP). During this residency, d’bi also invited me to compose music for and perform in ESU: Crossing the Middle Passage, the first part of her most recent opus The Orisha Trilogy. Subsequently, I received a Dora nomination for Outstanding Sound Design/Composition in Independent Theatre also for ESU… I am eager to work more with sound in this capacity as well as experiment with film scoring. 

Also expanding the diversity of my creative identity, I am the vocal mentor for fellow arts-educator and spoken word artist The Real Sun. Sun devised a self-crafted artistic residency to facilitate and foster her own creative growth and development. As her vocal mentor, I created curriculum to cultivate singing beyond the vocal chords, engaging the entire body in the sound-making process. The curriculum covers vocal technique, vocal creativity and the art of songwriting. 

More than anything, I look forward to listening as the experience of listening has had the most profound effect on me by shaping my choices of expression as an artist & by inspiring my day-to-day movements as a human being. 


Artists in Residence – Summer 2020

Evond Blake (MEDIAH)
  • Digital Artist
  • Graffiti Artist
  • Mixed Media
  • Muralist
  • Printmaking
Nadijah Robinson
  • Collage
  • Mixed Media
  • Muralist
Natasha Powell
  • Choreography
  • Dance
Oluseye
  • Multidisciplinary Artist
  • Performance
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
Ravyn Ariah Wngz
  • Abolitionist
  • Burlesque
  • Dance
  • Storytelling
Travis Knights
  • Believer
  • Choreography
  • Tap Dancer
Tuku Matthews
  • Mentor
  • Music Composer
  • Performance
  • Singer-Songwriter
  • Sound Designer