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Nanaimo singer-songwriter shares stories of musicians who immigrated to Canada

Laura Kelsey’s eight-part Storyhive miniseries airs Nov. 15
Qiana Lau, left, originally from China, will share her immigration story and musical talents in the first episode of ‘New Home, New Music,’ an eight-part miniseries created by Nanaimo’s Laura Kelsey. Christopher Sean Chigumba, also known as Alpha Centauri, will appear in the second episode. (Submitted photos)

Through the universal language of music, a local singer-songwriter will share the stories of eight musicians who immigrated to Canada and now call Nanaimo home.

In February, Laura Kelsey received $10,000 as a grant from Telus’ Storyhive, a funding platform that supports independent filmmakers, and spent the following months interviewing, filming and editing New Home, New Music which highlights the journeys of each musician.

The series shares the “eye-opening and inspiring” stories of Christopher Sean Chigumba, also known as Alpha Centauri, from Zimbabwe, Shruti Romani from India, David Essig from the United States, Peter Poole, also known as DJ All Good, from New Zealand, Iggy Kessel from Argentina, Jason Morley from England and Qiana Lau from China.

Kelsey’s enthusiasm for the project was spurred following a conversation with Lau, her son’s piano teacher, who had shared her own harrowing tale coming to Canada.

“The fact that she could go through so much to start a life here and still hold on to the music in her soul … I thought that these are stories people need to hear,” the filmmaker said. “As a musician who hasn’t travelled the world, I have always wondered how musicians are treated in different countries … Are they revered in some places and looked down upon in others? What are the audiences like: receptive or uncaring?”

While working on the project, Kelsey said she was glad to learn that the musicians’ countries of origin did not consider the profession to be beneath or less than others.

“It was also a great reminder of what a universal language music is,” she said.

In addition to sharing their immigration stories and comparing music industries, each episode will include original songs by the interviewees.

“I can rap in circles you know, around anybody in English, but if I add Shona as well, it adds that extra flavour and it makes me uniquely Zimbabwean, and I think that is also part of my immigrant story,” said Chigumba in a release for the series. “That I’m from somewhere else, but I like being here. But I still always want to remember where I’m from.”

New Home, New Music will start airing on Telus Optik TV Nov. 15.

READ MORE: Nanaimo singer opening for Matthew Good at Port Theatre this week

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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