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Dean Jarvis, back home 

The music director for Alessia Cara and The Weeknd returns to Nova Scotia for the ANSMA awards.

click to enlarge Jarvis with Canadian star, Alessia Cara. - SUBMITTED
  • Jarvis with Canadian star, Alessia Cara.
  • submitted
African Nova Scotian Music Association awards show
Saturday, February 24, 7pm
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium 6101 University Avenue

People across the country celebrated as Toronto-born artist Alessia Cara won a Grammy last month. This month Nova Scotia will celebrate one of our own who was integral in that accomplishment, Cara's music director Dean Jarvis.

"I am excited to be coming back to Nova Scotia to receive the award," says Jarvis. "I didn't even know what the award was at first, but when I found out I was honoured."

On February 24, the African Nova Scotian Music Association (ANSMA) will be presenting Dean Jarvis with the 2018 legacy award. Each year the award recognizes two African Nova Scotian artists who have demonstrated consistent contributions to the music industry. This year Jarvis will be honoured for his accomplishments as a music director in Canada and the United States.

Jarvis is humbled to receive recognition from the African Nova Scotian community. "Grammys are great, American Music Awards are great. I'm even on the Grammy board, but this is from my people so this is more special," he says with a laugh. He was surprised when he found out he'd been selected. "I was shocked and surprised and very happy, very very happy, because like I said it's so so important to be recognized by your own."

Dean Jarvis was born in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia. He moved to Toronto when he was three years old. In true African Nova Scotian expat fashion, as a child, Jarvis spent almost every summer here. Jarvis began his career as a bass player, and using his understanding of music arrangements, has since spent the last 30 years as a music director.

He has worked with artists such as The Weeknd, Nelly Furtado, and most recently Cara. His accomplishments will be recognized at ANSMA's 20th annual awards show at the Rebecca Cohn on Saturday.

When you attend a concert, the music director has a part in everything you hear and see. Jarvis directs and rehearses the band and puts together the overall musical aesthetic for the tour. "I'm doing the different arrangements for the artists so that they are different from the album because you don't want to play the album live," he says. "It's got to be a little different, a little more exciting."

ANSMA president Louis Gannon Jr. never heard of Jarvis' extraordinary accomplishments until his name was brought forward by the selection committee. This is a "prime example of why it is important to publicly recognize the accomplishments of the African Nova Scotian community," he says. He hopes that those who attend the awards, especially young artists, are inspired by Jarvis. "You just don't have to sit and dream about being somebody," says Gannon, "you can be somebody." 

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