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Beny Esguerra arrived as a child to Tkaronto (Toronto, Canada) from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents, who were involved in cultural work and human rights activism. Today, he is an award winning multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. In 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award. Most recently, his songs–from the 2022 JUNO nominated album Northside Kuisi–have been nominated for collaboration of the year at the 2022 International Indigenous Hip Hop Music Awards and have won Music to Life's Hope Rises II song writing contest and international call for songs for social justice. 

 

Beny Esguerra and New Tradition Music

 

Fusing spoken word and Hiphop’s cultural expressions with Colombian Afro-Indigenous música de gaita, two-time JUNO-nominated multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Beny Esguerra and New Tradition Music deliver an urgent call for justice, environmental healing and respect for ancestors and land treaties through an interactive multi-arts performance.

 

Press, management and workshop bookings

Ruben Esguerra

info@newtraditionmusic.com

 

Performance bookings

Marilyn Gilbert Artist Management

Marilyn@mgam.com

+1 647.465.8004

Award winning arts educator, multi instrumentalist, vocalist and community worker

Ruben 'Beny' Esguerra

 

A Bit About Me

Ruben “Beny” Esguerra arrived as a child to Tkaronto from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents, who were receiving threats for their human rights activism. Today, he is a JUNO nominated multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. in 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award and was nominated and chosen as a finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Community Arts Award.

BIOS

SHORT BIO

Beny Esguerra arrived as a child to Tkaronto (Toronto, Canada) from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents, who were involved in cultural work and human rights activism. Today, he is an award winning multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. In 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award. Most recently, his songs–from the 2022 JUNO nominated album Northside Kuisi–have been nominated for collaboration of the year at the 2022 International Indigenous Hip Hop Music Awards and have won Music to Life's Hope Rises II song writing contest and international call for songs for social justice. 

LONG BIO:

Beny Esguerra arrived as a child to Tkaronto from Bacatá (Bogotá, Colombia) as a political refugee with his parents,  who were involved in cultural work and human rights activism. Today, he is a two-time JUNO nominated multi-instrumentalist/producer, spoken-word poet, arts educator and community worker. in 2021, he was chosen as the laureate of the 2020 Ontario Arts Foundation Arts Educator Award. Most recently, his songs–from the 2022 JUNO nominated album Northside Kuisi–have been nominated for collaboration of the year at the 2022 International Indigenous Hip Hop Music Awards and have won Music to Life's Hope Rises II song writing contest and international call for songs for social justice. 

 

As a musician/producer and spoken-word poet, he leads New Tradition Music, performing regularly in national and international festivals. As an arts educator, he has designed courses taught at Canadian Universities and currently facilitates interactive virtual and in-person drumming, storytelling and beat-making workshops in schools across Ontario. As a community worker, he is the music director/facilitator of several community arts programs within organizations such as: Vibe Arts, Right Path World Arts, Casa Maiz and Children’s Peace Theatre among others. In addition, he co-leads the NTM Wheel It Studios mobile project which provides access to equipment and mentorship to Jane-Finch artists across different neighbourhoods. Ruben is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology specializing in Colombian traditional music and Hip Hop culture. His latest album–Northside KUISi–combines Hiphop with Latinx music styles released through Lulaworld Records.

IN DEPTH BIO

Mixing a new tradition

 

For musician/producer, poet, community worker, two-time JUNO Awards Nominee and award winning arts educator Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra, the arts are a vehicle of transformation. “The difference in the world begins with yourself,” Esguerra says. “If you can find your purpose through art, if you can empower yourself, you will soon empower others as well.”

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Esguerra is very familiar with the liberating power of art. He and his younger brother came to Canada as political refugees with their parents, who were teaching artists and had begun receiving threats for their human rights activism. “It was totally life-changing,” Esguerra says. “Since we had to go in secret, my brother and I weren’t told why we were leaving, or that we weren’t coming back. That was one of the hardest things–we didn’t get to say goodbye to our friends.” Upon arrival in Canada, Esguerra found himself faced with a whole new set of challenges” learning English, fitting-in at school, watching his parents struggle on welfare and working temporary jobs, and facing many forms of discrimination on a daily basis. “It made me grow up fast. I had a lot to take-in at the age of nine. But all of this led me to become politicized at a young age. I tried to turn a negative reality into a positive one.” 

Influenced by his artist parents, Esguerra began playing violin and percussion at a young age while immersing himself in the artistic elements of Hiphop culture, eventually going on to attend an arts high school and studying music at York University. At the age of 17, he began playing professionally with various bands in the Toronto Latin music scene, and after working as a percussionist with several well-known poets, he started creating his own spoken word pieces. This led him to participate in a CBC poetry festival and performing an original piece for the Governor General Michaëlle Jean at the 2008 Ignite the Americas conference. In addition to making music, Esguerra has worked as an educator while pursuing graduate studies in ethnomusicology at York University. Having taught workshops at York and in Toronto public schools for about 15 years, Esguerra now devotes a substantial amount of his time to working with immigrant youth in Toronto’s Jane/Finch community where he directs programs that provide community artists with musical training; they culminate in the creation and dissemination of their own musical products and projects. “Unfortunately, many of the youth find the educational system hard to relate to, and street life is an all-too-easy alternative. Through music and poetry we get them to express their ideas and learn from other writers whom they can relate to.” 

 

In 2012, Esguerra’s many years of hard work culminated in his first album, A New Tradition, which combines spoken word and hip hop with Latin rhythms and melodies. Supported by funding from the Ontario Arts Council, Esguerra made the album independently with help from colleagues and friends, and he did all of his own marketing. “I wanted to experiment and create something for which there was no market–something original that reflected who I am and my many influences. The tracks are percussion-based with trombones as a staple; I wanted to include the kuisi a.k.a gaita (a 2,000-year-old South American instrument) along with more contemporary instruments like the turntables. I chose the styles to create something new, but still rooted in tradition, something original that builds bridges across different styles and different instruments.” 

 

The concept of a new tradition is also reflected in the content of Esguerra’s pieces, each one focusing on a different social injustice and calling upon his listeners to raise their voices and address it. Themes include global and economic inequality, the violence exerted by some multinational corporations, police brutality and unity within cultural diversity. 

 

Motivated by the success of his first album, the following production of A New Tradition VOL 2: Return of the KUISi led to 2018 Juno Award nomination for World Music Album of the Year. 

 

Currently, between directing community music programs in Jane-Finch, visiting a variety of classrooms across Ontario facilitating workshops, and raising a young family, Beny received recognition from an Ontario Arts Council jury receiving the prestigious 2021 Ontario Arts Foundations Arts Educator Award given annually to an Ontario resident who exemplifies excellence in arts education and continues to maintain an active arts practice. In addition, he has also composed and recorded his latest opus: Northside KUISi (A New Tradition VOL 3) released on the Lulaworld Records Label in the fall of 2021 which received the 2022 JUNO nomination for Global Music Album of the Year. Most recently, his songs–from Northside Kuisi–have been nominated for collaboration of the year at the 2022 International Indigenous Hip Hop Music Awards and have won Music to Life's Hope Rises II song writing contest and international call for songs for social justice. 

 

“The idea of creating a ‘new tradition’ is my basic life philosophy,” Esguerra says. “It’s important to know your self, your history and ancestral past… but it’s also important to recreate and reinvent yourself with regard to identity. It is impossible to know everything about our past, as much as we’d like to. The beautiful thing about not knowing is that it offers us the opportunity to create something new”.

 

Beny Esguerra and New Tradition Music

 

Is an interactive performance project that explores the concepts of tradition and modernity through the production of a multidisciplinary performance featuring spoken word, music, songs, dance and design. While creating bridges across musical genres, the original compositions incorporate ancient instruments such as the 2000 plus year old indigenous kuisi bunsi flute (a.k.a. Colombian gaita) with more recent instruments such as the turntables. With the use of a human beatboxer and a DJ as essential elements of the bands sonic identity the ensemble can maintain its original sound while performing with as many as thirteen musicians all the way down to three, making the show adaptable to various performance contexts.

Ancestral musical styles + urban cultural expressions = New Tradition

 

Selected Performances: 

 

2022     Lisbon, Portugal;     Womex Showcase presented by Small World              Music, Global Toronto, International Indigenous Music Summit 

             and Folcquebec at the the Casa Independente. Sharing the                      stage with Aysanabee, Diogo Ramos, Kizaba, Leela Gilday,                      OKAN and Tamar llana. October

2022     Toronto, ON; Opening performer at the Small World Festival in

             Fort York. Sept. 2022 Montreal, QC; Fuego Fuego Festival.                        Sharing the stage with Nicky Jam, Farruko, Mike Towers, Fito                    Blanko and many others at the Esplanade du Parc Olympique. 

 

2022     Toronto, ON; 13th National UFCW Convention at the Westin                      Harbour Castle conference centre. August. 

2022     Toronto, ON; Two week residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario for              the AGO Live series presented by Small World Music. July 

2022     Toronto, ON; Headline performer at the Indigenous Arts Festival                in Fort York. June 

2022     Toronto, ON; Headline performer for the Alucine Film Fest. June


2022     Toronto, ON; Headline performer for the Luminato Fest. at Yonge-

             Dundas Square Stage. June


2022     Kansas City, MO; spotlight and private showcase performer at                  Folk Alliance International. May


2022     Toronto, ON; Lulaworld Fest. Opening show with Silla. May


2022     Toronto, ON; Frequencies JUNO showcase for CBC Music with                Errol Nazareth to be live-streamed and aired on Various CBC                    Music platforms during the 2022 JUNO weekend. May


2022     Las Vegas, US; Invited to perform for the United Latinos of the                  United Food and Commercial Workers

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OFFICIAL RELEASE

NORTHSIDE KUISi,
A NEW TRADITION
Vol 3.

OUT NOW!!!

 
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New Tradition Music

New Tradition Music

New Tradition Music
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Press

Album Release Interview Go Live Radio

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CashBox Canada Magazine - Feature

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TorontoHispano - Juno Awards 

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Music Works - Album Review

Five Questions With Beny Esguerra

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Toronto Hispano

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GoLive Interview 2021 (Spanish)

Canadian Magazine - Album Review

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UbuntuFMhiphop.com

Ontario Presents Spotlight 

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VibeArts Spotlight

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2020 Arts Educator of the year 

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Ontario Presents Spotlight

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2021 Community Arts Award

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Photos