Garth Prinsonsky first came to Canada as a member of a Namibian touring choir. He was in his mid-20s, and was impressed with how audiences engaged with African music.
Two years later, he had made Edmonton his new home. And that’s when reality set in.
“People wanted to come out and see the shows,” he says. “But once I moved here, I realized it was different to live here. I went from being this sort of star as a touring artist to being an immigrant.”
But his passion for music didn’t die. He put together a band that played the Afrobeat music that represented his Namibian roots. But, he admits that Namibia’s relationship with its own culture is complicated. It separated from South Africa in 1990; before that, it was part of a country where apartheid ruled. Kids were told that Namibian music wasn’t worthy, and it’s still part of that country’s cultural baggage today.
Then, Prinsonsky, known as “Garth Prince” when he’s onstage, played a gig that had many kids in the audience. And he noticed that they danced. And, from that point, he wanted to focus on playing his music for kids. He toured schools.
And, in 2022, his album, Falling in Africa, won the Juno for Children’s Album of the Year.
“It had been a rough night, most of the people at my table, their nominations had come and gone. We didn’t have a win at our table yet. It started to feel kind of like a trend.”
When nominees were named, he didn’t get a lot of applause, because people in Toronto, where the Junos were held, hadn’t heard of him.
“There was a shock in the room. That continued backstage. The sense I got from the press was ‘Who are you?’” We know him now.
Why He’s Top 40
He connects kids to cultural experiences via music