When we talk about Canadian music, we’re so often fixated on the Toronto scene. Let’s take a step back and look east to the budding scene in Nova Scotia, starting with Keonté Beals. Having spent most of his life connected to music, Beals transitioned from the choir to the studio to tell his stories through singing and songwriting. Recipient of a number of awards, including three Music Nova Scotia Awards for his song Man Down, Beals brings his own blend of pop and R&B to the table. His latest release 4-Ever, off his upcoming EP, combines tender, sentimental lyrics with his classic upbeat melodies.
We caught up with the emerging Beals to discuss his sound and city. Read it all below and watch the just-released video for 4-Ever.
Who is Keonté Beals?
Keonté Beals is a 20-tear-old singer/songwriter, Pianist, from North Preston Nova Scotia. My roots in music come from singing in Gospel choirs at my local church Saint Thomas Baptist Church Located in North Preston. I began singing at the age of 7 but at the age of 13, I decided I wanted to make a career out of music. This is also the time I made the switch over to POP/R&B. A lot of my musical influences come from Gospel, R&B, Soul, Jazz and some Rock & Roll.
How did you make the transition from singing in church choirs to making your own music?
At about age 15 I had my first solo in church. All I can remember about that moment is opening my eyes to see the church in an uproar after I sang the last line of the song. Word of that solo spread quickly through social media from folks who had videotaped the performance. I began getting offers to sing for loads of local church events, charity events, etc. One song I use to sing titled “I’m Here” use to be a big hit when I sang it places and so I decided to record the song and release it with a video. And the rest is history from there on.
What was the inspiration behind 4-Ever?
The inspiration for 4 Ever came from being in a special moment. A moment you could watch play out a million times and it would still be as special. This could be a surprise birthday someone had for you. Could be the day Barack Obama was elected President. Could be the day you got married or an evening out with that special someone. But that specific moment is so special, so at peace, that you want it to last 4 Ever. That’s your safe place. You could have multiple moments like this. But it is whatever one that is most unforgettable.
How would you describe the Halifax/Nova Scotia music scene?
The Halifax/Nova Scotia music scene is simply welcoming. The community around here is so small so everybody knows everybody and if you don’t know somebody, it won’t be long until you run into that person. Nova Scotia is filled with big-hearted musicians with even bigger dreams.
Man Down combines an upbeat instrumental with tragic lyrics: How do you reconcile the two to tell a story that isn’t overpowered by a beat?
Truly, that wasn’t tricky. It wasn’t tricky because my heart was in it. The idea was to use a real life story and connect it to a beat everybody could feel. The main thing about making the two work together is simply to display that emotion onto the track. As long as the emotion is there then you’ve done your job as a singer/songwriter/performer.
Do you have plans to collaborate with other artists on the upcoming EP?
For my debut project, there aren’t any collaborations. This will be a complete display of myself and my work. I have grown so much as a songwriter and performer and I just want to display that effort and work I have put in. With the second project, there will be lots of collaborations.