“Neo soul mixed with vintage Motown and Reggae influences”
Marcia Alderson lives in Collingwood, Ontario, north of Toronto in a region commonly known as a popular weekend getaway destination for the privileged. She’s made a nice life for herself there as a real estate agent, while singing on the side in a band specializing in Motown and Bob Marley covers, the latter a nod to her Jamaican heritage.
But like so many others, Alderson was shaken to her core after seeing what unfolded during the summer of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. It brought out suppressed memories of the racism her mother faced while trying to make a new life in Canada after emigrating from Jamaica in the 1950s. Her struggle eventually led her to the man she would marry – a white man – who put his entire livelihood in jeopardy in order to help her get the house she wanted.
For Alderson, her parents’ story is proof that racism can be overcome when people simply stand up to it. She saw that spirit in action again in 2020 when, even in Collingwood, 2,000 of its citizens peacefully marched on multiple occasions in support of #BlackLivesMatter. Being part of that protest inspired Alderson to re-evaluate her musical pursuits, and channel that energy into writing original songs for the first time.
It’s prompted the creation of a new persona, Queen M, and a debut single, “Colour Of Her Skin,” a tribute to her mother. Produced by Alderson’s main collaborator, Collingwood scene fixture Craig Smith (also of the band Ontarians), the song is a neoSoul banger incorporating dashes of Caribbean flavour, and powered by lines such as, “Freedom has its conditions in the land of the northern lights.”
She explains, “When the murder of George Floyd was dominating the airwaves, the story of how my parents met came back to me during a conversation with my teenage son. I hadn’t thought about it in decades. From there I wrote a Facebook post telling their story and I found myself on a megaphone recanting it once again at a BLM rally.
“When Craig suggested that we write an original song together, he told me to write about what I knew. I went to bed that night and woke up at 2 a.m. with the line, ‘Privilege and palm trees and the land of ice and snow’ floating around in my head. Within a half-hour I had a full page of lyrics. It was surreal actually; the words flowed right through me. Craig and I got together a few days later and we sculpted those words into what is now ‘Colour Of Her Skin.’ Craig put some fabulous music to it and here we are.
Alderson hopes that by releasing “Colour Of Her Skin” to coincide with Black History Month 2022, she will be able to do more to motivate people to confront racism in all its forms. However, this is just the beginning for Queen M, now a full-fledged band featuring, along with Smith on guitar, veteran drummer Bambalamb Kidd a.k.a. Bam 528 and bassist Kyle Dreany. More new songs are currently in the works, with the band aiming to release an EP later in 2022.
“Colour Of Her Skin” has opened up an entirely new world for Alderson, but not an unprecedented one in terms of legendary musical late bloomers like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Like them, Queen M is out to demonstrate that the power of Soul can never be extinguished.
“The pandemic gave me the gift of time for learning to tell my story through songwriting,” Alderson says. “The message that I want to put out right now is, do the right thing even when it’s hard, and even if it doesn’t directly affect you. My father did the right thing. He lost his job in the process but gained a family. My mother had finally had enough and decided to fight for what was right and just. She refused to be judged by the colour of her skin.”
Craig Smith is a an explorer and a musical path finder. A talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, recording artist, in-demand producer, mixer and sound engineer, this man wears quite a few musical hats. Craig has made the Georgian Bay area his home base.
Smith is recognized for his laid-back folk-rock and pop, with a passion for atmospherics and emotional songwriting. His music and performances embody the spirit of vintage psychedelic rock, soul, R&B through the lens of a modern day singer-songwriter.
He has toured internationally, released 2 solo albums, is a member of the popular group Motown & Marley. Craig Smith is also the co-founder of the folk, alternative band ONTARIANS, who have released their debut album The Greatest Short Story Never Told to critical praise, in March, 2021.
Kyle Dreany is a home grown musician who came up learning music from a number of veteran players, throwing himself at every open mic and jam possible in a town rich with high level talent. After a few years of burning in trials by fire and late night to early morning jam sessions with friends, he joined the Sudbury born rock group Superstack developing a close brotherhood with the other members and developing his connection to the spirituality of music further. As priorities changed, Kyle went on to play in a number of other bands seeking out that on stage connection, found with Queen M.
Bam528 is the heartbeat of the band. He was first introduced to the art of percussion by George Fowler, V.P. of Motown Records Gospel, who was dating his mother. George was also a keyboard player who would sub in at the “Snake Pit” at Motown. On this occasion, Diana & Stevie were working on music and 10 year old Bam played the bongos and was told he was a natural. He was invited to return anytime and did.
Later he would become a member of Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus and tour throughout the U.S., Jamaica & Canada.
We will play together again soon, stay safe.
Riverstone Retreat, Royal LePage National Conference, Keleher+Co Fall Festival Afternoon… more to come check back later
Blue Mountain Village Floating Stage… more to come check back later
Blue Mountain Village, Owen Sound, 1812 Grillhouse, Harbour Fish Bar, Mad River Rocks Festival