New World Beat: Toronto’s Musical Heart (and Soul)

When people think about Toronto, the music scene isn’t always what comes to mind.

Known as Hollywood North, the Six has been seen as a hotspot for moviemaking, often drawing attention first. Or, maybe it’s seen as a sports town. With four teams inhouse, many view this as a central city for major league sports. But music? After Drake and the Weeknd, the list of known Toronto artists seems to run dry.

But New World Best wants to change all that.

Premiering March 26th, 2024 on TVO (and, New World Beat takes a deep dive into the city and its musical flavour. Featuring some of the voices that define the Toronto music scene, this 6-episode docuseries invites creatives such as The Weather Station, Ming Ja, Chippy NONSTOP and many, many more to share their talents with the world. 

Created by Michael Tobin, New World Beat sets itself apart from other music docuseries with its emphasis on the stories of its storytellers. Although the film features wonderful live performances, these conversations become more than simply another artist’s hype real. Instead, we begin to understand the artist’s themselves, highlighting the ways that their music has been influenced by their stories of struggle. A great example of this comes through singer James Baley who bears his soul regarding the challenges of growing up gay in a church setting. Although Baley enjoyed performing within his religious community, his sexuality became a barrier to those within it. Suddenly, his passion for music and spiritual fervour mattered little and he became an unwelcome presence.

He needed to find a safe space.

Now, having found spiritual fulfillment in a more accepting community, the difficulty of his journey is poured into his music, giving it life and purpose. But Baley’s journey is only one of many. In each episode, Tobin interweaves the stories of three different creatives as they offer a piece of themselves through their music. From Chippy NONSTOP to Charlotte Cornfield, New World Beat gives its subjects the chance to share their stories in their own way.

Of course, part of this also involves the music itself. By allowing them to perform live, Beat allows them the opportunity to show their talent. And Beat features some truly remarkable performances as well. Each artist differs tremendously in their style and tone yet the series gives each one of them equal opportunity to shine.

Interestingly, Tobin’s series does something that many other ‘segment shows’ do not. Rather than focusing on each artist in their own block of time, Beat interweaves their narratives together. In doing so, each episode’s trio of talent find their stories juxtaposed with one another, creating an almost jazz-like framework to its structure. Suddenly, each artist’s unique talent feels as though it interacts with one another, creating a truly interesting conversation within each episode. Despite their differences, each musician’s story seems to feed into the next. In music terms, the show becomes like jazz, with each person stepping into the spotlight when the time is right.

Because, in the end, New World Beat wants to show the power of Toronto’s multicultural community by giving everyone their chance to shine.

New World Beat is premieres on TVO at 10pm and streams on on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024.

Leave a Reply