Ezra Kwizera (BC / Rwanda)
Ezra Kwizera’s music carries the spark of life along with the complex undertones of someone who has seen and survived serious hardship: war, poverty, and growing up as a Rwandan refugee in Uganda. Yet from these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Ezra has risen to become one of the most notable artists and music producers in Africa and internationally.
Now living in Vancouver, Ezra travels around the world, Africa, the UK and the US, performing in front of thousands. He brings with him his energetic yet soulful melodies, along with his signature and unique mix of genres and cultures.
Having a richly multi-ethnic performance style, Ezra fluidly sings and raps in English, Kinyarwanda, Luganda, Zulu and Swahili, infusing flavors of reggae, soca, East African bongo, and pop in his songs. Hearing Ezra sing, you know that he is sharing with you his story, and making you want to dance to celebrate life at the same time.
Overcoming times of fear, trauma and struggle, Ezra’s history contrasts brightly with the leader he is today – a creative artist and a community role model who helps vulnerable children, youth and needy families develop the skills necessary to improve their lives. “I started helping about 6 families, each with about 3 to 4 kids, through my music,” Ezra tells, “I would share their stories at my concerts and find sponsors for the kids.”
Later, as the number of kids that Ezra was helping grew, he and his wife founded the non-profit organization, Narrow Road. Now they help about 80 children through a sponsorship program that emphasizes education and family. These two foundations, Ezra believes, are necessary for a strong and healthy societal fabric, leading to a stable future for Rwanda. And in addition to providing school fees for children and placing orphans in families, Narrow Road hosts a recording studio that teaches young musicians how to record and produce music, endowing skills that can sustain a person and give them hope for a better future. On the motivation for his hard work and humanitarian endeavours, Ezra says, “My heart is not to build up my own ego but to affect change in my own generation”.
In addition to playing and singing his own wonderful music and songs at the festival, Ezra is bringing some of his student drummers for a special workshop.
Inspiring us with his music, his story, and his mission – we are thrilled to welcome Ezra, and his students, to the festival.