BY: KABRENA ROBINSON
The 3rd annual Black Diamond Ball was an exquisite soirée held at Toronto’s luxurious Fairmount Royal filled with entertainers, business leader and community members all fashionably decked in their best evening attire joining in the celebration of black excellence.
The formal sold-out affair held on Saturday, February 24th, was part of TD Bank’s annual Black History Month series of cultural events showcasing the past and present accomplishments of black Canadians. The evening featured live entertainment from local and international talents such as award-winning Canadian singer Liberty Silver, who was the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and headline performer and international Grammy award-winning artist Mya.
Al Ramsay, a representative from TD Bank expressed that TD is once again proud to be a part of making “the biggest Black History Month celebration in Canada” possible.
“I am proud on a personal note to work for an organization that truly embodies diversity and inclusion,” he mentioned in his address at the recent Black Diamond Ball.
In partnership with TD, the yearly event was organized by ArtXperiential, a not-for-profit organization geared towards supporting emerging and established artists, encouraging dialogue and experimentation through workshops, events and exhibition opportunities. Vice President of Operations at ArtXperiential and head organizer of the Black Diamond Ball Shawn Cuffie says the goal for the ball each year is to make it “bigger and better”.
“The goal is not only to have a ball that’s great in the black community,” he said in an interview. “We want to have the best event in general in Toronto. So, it goes beyond the theme of Black History Month. As black people, I want to be able to say ‘yes we are black and we can do it just as good or as better than anyone else’. So, the motivation is to listen to people, see what’s going on out there and making sure that we are on top of the bar.”
Guests were thoroughly entertained by a range of performances and surprise awards. The evening commenced with the traditional cocktail hour and then proceeded to the main course of the evening which was the entertainment. Hosting the event was Andrea Bain, author, and co-host of CBC The Goods.
The entertainment segment of the evening kick-started with a lively opening dance number from the TD dancers followed by a display of eye-catching and unique Afrocentric designs. Canadian singer-songwriter Kim Davis later took the stage with a spirited performance that set the mood for a highly eventful evening. Audience members also witnessed memorable performances from the talented Liberty Silver, Dub Poet Nadine Williams, Canadian rapper Choclair, R&B and soul singer Témi and comedian Jay Martin. 17-year-old musical prodigy William Leathers wowed the audience showcasing his skills on the trumpet. Leathers was also presented with an Influencer Award for his accomplishments in music. St Lucian born Canadian designer Kyle Gervacy whose high fashion designs were showcased at the event also received an Influencer Award for his work in the fashion industry.
Organizer Shawn Cuffie said that the decision to award these individuals all excelling in their distinctive fields is a part of the function’s aim to help promote and acknowledge individuals who have made their mark or are currently excelling within and beyond the community.
“It’s important that we recognize as many of these people as possible to show that we have excellent and talented individuals in the community and we want to expose them as much as possible to people who may want to hire them and help them gain notoriety and build on that and their expertise as well,” he said.
For many, the major highlight of the evening was the powerful and captivating performance by international singing sensation Mya, gracing the stage with hit after hit accompanied by vivacious and smooth dance numbers. Attendees were also able to unwind and indulge in a little after party enjoyment to end the night.
Cuffie said that he has been receiving a tremendous amount of positive feedback from attendees and community members following the success of the event; With tons of well-wishes and congratulatory messages on social media and many people even attempting to get their tickets for next year’s occasion lined up. With the positive reception that the event has been getting, Cuffie shared that he is currently thinking about planning a summer event as well as a “pre-ball” occasion in November. He also aspires to take the event international by hosting a Black Diamond Ball in the U.S.
“My job is to serve my community and make them very proud of what we can do together. I hire over a hundred black people to help me throughout the year putting these events together and I just want to thank everybody who made it a success and to let them know that it will only get better.”