Every time Caleb Hart plays a gig, he feels overwhelmed and humbled. He’s still a little shocked to find people actually paying to hear his music.
“I know it sounds like these little things to others, but to me it’s priceless,” says the Tasman Jude frontman .
Grande Prairie’s island-soul man spent the 2016 holiday season playing solo shows on the West Coast in support of his Christmas EP, White Diamonds—with time off playing in the snow with Victoria BC hip-hop crew Illvis Freshly.
Hart’s guest vocals on Illvis Freshly’s new release Illennials and his current solo work—which goes beyond his reggae reputation—finds the 25-year-old singer embracing a broader palette that draws from a reservoir of hip-hop, pop, roots, folk and island soul.
“The foundation of my career has been co-writing,” Hart says. “Which is an incredible experience and gives you a massive open-minded view toward songwriting—if you allow it to.”
Last year, Hart and Derek Wilder of Tasman Jude picked up the Best Emerging Artist award at the Edmonton Folk Festival and also the Western Canadian Music Award for World Artist of the Year. In the past three years Hart and Wilder have had a hot schedule, releasing three studio recordings and performing more than 500 shows worldwide.
“In the last year and a half or so I have really been focusing on my solo stuff, even though the first nine months of 2016 was very much Tasman Jude oriented,” Hart explains. “[This] included touring Australia, recording the new album Gold, releasing it, touring festivals, and so on. So we had decided early in the year that once the album was released in August we were going to take an indefinite hiatus.”
After a short tour of Hawaii, Hart returned to the West Coast to headline a series of shows with Vancouver world rootsman Buckman Coe—backed by Victoria soul reggae outfit The Royal Youths. Hart next heads to Australia for several weeks, but not before he checks in for one last solo acoustic performance, opening for the Joey Landreth Trio at The Almanac on Saturday February 25.
“I was four years old when I knew I wanted to be a singer for the rest of my life,” Hart says, “so for 21 years I have been pursuing this. I started playing the djembe at seven; I started writing songs at 10. The songs on the first Tasman Jude album Green, the verses are actually written by me when I was 11.”
Hart enthusiastically embraces a fresh solo career which he joyously refers to as “I Love Caleb Hart.” The ex-pat Tobagonian will release a new recording this summer.
Hart believes a unexplainable incident set him onto the right path, crediting a spiritual epiphany he experienced after arriving in Canada when he was 18.
“That’s why my music is so consciously directed,” Hart explains. “That’s why I’m trying to be an inspiration to people and bring hope through my music. Because I love what I do and I want to spread love while I’m doing it.”