The students of Bayview Secondary School welcomed with excitement Thursday a special guest speaker. Jully Blackvisited the Richmond Hill high school to talk to the students about Black History Month. The month of February is devoted to celebrating the great accomplishments that were made by both African Americans and African Canadians. Jully Black has shared the stage with many big time singers like Usher, 50 Cent and Bon Jovi, and has written songs for such notable artists as Destiny's Child, Missy Elliott, Sean Paul and Nas. She gained attention for her 2006 debut album entitled 'This Is Me,"#39; and her more recent album entitled 'Revival,"#39; which won her a Juno in 2008 for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. When she's not out winning Junos, or topping the charts, she is a celebrity reporter for E-Talk Canada. She was introduced by vice principal Rose Walker along with student council members who said a few words, and the school's jazz ensemble played a piece 'Just A Closer Walk'. Jully Blackstarted off her Bayview visit by singing the black national anthem, followed by a brief moment of silence. "I am proud and deeply touched to really sit down and consider the fact that I am a part of Black History Month," Ms Black told the students at the assembly. Originally born a twin on Nov. 8, 1977 as Jully Ann Inderia Gordon, she grew up in the troubled Jane and Finch neighborhood of North York. Her twin brother unfortunately lived for only five minutes after birth. That wasn't the only loss that she encountered throughout her life. Her father walked out of the house in 1984, and in 1990 her sister Sharon, 24, and a single mother of two, died. Her mother worked hard bringing her other sons and daughters living in Jamaica, to Canada one by one. Her mother was the glue that held the family together, recalled a sad Ms Black, telling some of her childhood stories up on stage. Growing up in a family of nine with no father, she was the youngest. Her voice was discovered in church at the age of seven. Over the years, she realized her true potential by unleashing her powerful tenor and learning to control it. At the age of 16, she made a major decision and took her first steps on her road to success. It was not easy making her dream become a reality, but with family support, she felt it was time to break out of her comfort zone and go to school in downtown Toronto. She worked hard and stayed true to her dream. Not only was she able to attend a music-oriented high school, but she was able to bury herself in a chamber-music program. She learned a lot, stayed focused and absorbed every bit of information she could from her music teacher Roy Greeves. Ms Black told the students she did quite well in all of her classes and got good grades. "Music saved my life," she said as she revealed more of her background to the students. In a quick interview after the assembly, an excited and very down to earth, Jully Black answered a few questions. "Singing on stage with such big-named performers was an absolute honour and helped me confirm my real purpose of pursuing my dreams in being a singer. It was also an absolute pleasure, and a rather comforting and humbling experience to actually write for such stars other than myself. At first I wrote the songs for myself, but then they were adopted by the other groups," said Ms Black. She is currently working on a new album and is planning to call it 'The Black Book'. "I really enjoy all the media attention and I feel that when I'm around the cameras I can really be myself and have fun with the whole scenario." The students were excited to meet not just the singer, but the correspondent on season six of Canadian Idol, who has also performed at the 2008 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala. Some recognized Ms Black as an actress, for her reoccurring role on the show 'Da Kink In My Hair,"#39; now in season two or for organizing the all-female showcase called 'Glow The Show'. With all of these achievements at only 31 years old, she was an appropriate role model and BlackHistory Month guest. Patrick Klein-Horsman is a English co-op student at The Liberal.
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