“O Lead Us On, Thou Gentle Shepherd”: The Black Church in Ontario and Its Music

On a snowy February 10th the staff and students at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre had the opportunity to hear Dr. Jesse Feyen speak about the significance of the Black Church in Ontario and its roots.

For many seeking freedom from slavery, Ontario, Canada, was the desired destination.

Dr. Feyen explains how the church became community hubs and how the music that rose out of these places of worship became world famous in some cases.

As Dr. Feyen concludes, those fleeing slavery found refuge and support within the Black Churches of Ontario, and as we look to the present day we continue the tradition of opening our doors and hearts to others fleeing oppression.

Dr. Jesse Feyen is founder, coordinator, and professor of the Music Industry Arts and Performance (MIAP) program at Centennial College. He is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who has performed internationally in a wide range of genres and contexts. He holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from York University. His doctoral dissertation is a groundbreaking work on Black Canadian gospel music in Ontario.