Story by Dami Fadipe
Photo by Will Geier
With beautiful sounds that reverberate over the crowds she performs in, Yolanda Sargeant exudes a powerful presence the second her shoes touch the stage. Her soulful sound always gets the attention of her audience without fail. With such a dynamic voice, wide sphere of influence, and magnetic stage personality, Sargeant does her best to stay vigilant in her work, and modest in her accomplishments.
“Comrade and I consistently deliver an authentic show, always challenging ourselves to become better performers,” she says.
She believes that the closeness of the local music community and the consistency and the collaborative efforts of the scene have enabled her to have the gravitas that she’s acquired as an artist.
“The Calgary music community is very supportive of each other. And, with the National Music Centre being here, there has been a lot more growth.”
Sargeant and Comrade have collaborated with several of the music festivals that Calgary has to offer, working with events such as Calgary Folk Festival, Sled Island, Soundoff Summit, and Femme Wave. When she performs at these events, she puts all of herself into her music.
“In these kinds of environments, you are showing yourself to some listneres for the first time, and it is important to release all [that] you have within yourself.”
Even leaving the stage can be an ambitious task, and Sargeant describes it as ‘bittersweet experience.’
“I always want to give more to the audience,” she says. “Performing for them gives [me] such great satisfaction. Drawing from their energy, and them from mine, is really what takes the performance to the next level. After a show, my energy is completely drained, as I have given all I possibly can to the crowd. Being able to rejuvenate is important and necessary for the next show to be equally as good for the corwd.”
But this level of performance isn’t just for festivals. Sargeant is attentive in her work ethic, and delivers electrifying shows at venues like King Eddy, Broken City and Paradise Lanes.
“I look for a sense of community deeply imprinted within the venues I perform in,” she says. “As well as good sounds and acoustics.”
A significant reason and contributor to her powerful music is due to her background.
“My mother and father [have] always encouraged me to speak up and have a voice.”
And with her musical influences all across the board from her childhood, she and Comrade do not feel the need to subscribe their music to any one genre.
“I definitely have artists that have spoken to me through their music throughout my life. Artists like Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Johnny Cash, [and] Joni Mitchell. Most of what they talk about is the human experience. Regardless of the genre they were able to get this message across. I think of them in the sense of their music being the torch, and we have to continue the legacy they created.”
It has paid off too and their sphere of influence has grown over the years.
“When I saw that my face was on the Calgary Transit Ad for The National Music Centre, I noticed a spike in the interest of our music.”
Their music isn’t just for a national audience, and their sound has travlled some distance across the world.
“A few months ago, there was a newspaper article about us in a Russian magazine. I though that was pretty cool,” she says. “Overall music is a universal language, so all we can aspire to is to translate our everyday feelings and experiences to a wider demographic.”
Her process for creating new music that all can enjoy is one that many creative can understand.
“Life happens and music is a reflection of that process. When the music comes to me, that’s when it comes.”
Yolanda managed to give us a glimpse of the creative processes of one of her tracks titled, Deep Love, released March 15.
“My friend Sinistarr sent me a message about a legendary DJ, Detroit’s Filthiest,” she says. “He was looking for vocals and Sinistarr recommended me.”
He then added Sargeant on social media and they began to start talking about music, eventually deciding to make a track together.
“Within a few weeks he sent me a beat.”
Yolanda wrote Deep Love abroad in her father’s garden in Antigua.
“The song is about the first feelings of affection towards someone else. First it immerses you in a wave of emotions and [then] you start doubting whether your feelings are too good to be true,” she says. “At some point you have to let go and dig deeper.”
You can find Yolanda on Facebook and Instagram with the handles @yolandasargeant and @sargeantandcomrade. Her new single, Deep Love, is available on Beatport, Spotify, and through the Yolanda Sargeant Facebook page.