A Testament to Brampton’s World Class Talent

Brampton Talent Collage

Brampton is misunderstood. Like a nuanced film, or an abstract painting, some can perceive and appreciate the vision, while others will simply react negatively. Unfortunately for us, when asking for opinions of the city, most things said about Brampton tend to be negative.

There are a variety of valid reasons, mixed with hysterically inaccurate misconceptions, that contribute to the negative stigma surrounding Canada’s ninth largest city. The irony is, despite being collaborators in creating the apathetic spirit that has led to many of the town’s shortcomings, most residents are disappointed, and frankly, very tired of the misconceptions and bad buzz.

Fortunately, the spirit of a new Brampton is emerging. The city is in a position to make positive and sustainable gains in various aspects of its evolution.

If you compare this city to neighbouring municipalities, Brampton is a hotbed for world class talent.

Despite all of the perceived negativity, one of the greatest testaments to Brampton is the residents themselves. Maybe the excellence is driven by a desire to get out of here, hopefully its something more, but this town has had very prominent past residents that have gone on to become cultural icons.

Friendly Rich

Musician Friendly Rich (centre)

Even though the city doesn’t have a fully developed local arts scene, its residents have made huge impacts on the regional arts scene, and on the international level as well. If you compare this city to neighbouring municipalities, Brampton is a hotbed for world class talent.

Our indie rock scene has produced highly influential contributors to Canadian music. Led by the avant garde, yet technically brilliant, Friendly Rich, who used to produce the music for the Tom Green Show—in addition to founding the Brampton Indie Arts Festival.

Indie bands Moneen, Vulcan Dub Squad, The Junction

Clockwise from top left: Indie bands Moneen, Vulcan Dub Squad, The Junction.

Among the bands that are synonymous with the heyday of Brampton are the regional punk-rock vanguards, Moneen. There is also the very eclectic, yet regionally beloved Vulcan Dub Squad. And, of course, there is The Junction. A band that notably “made it” by getting a major record deal, however were not able to find the mainstream success it seemed they were destined to achieve.

Countless music lovers all over the GTA speak with pure euphoric nostalgia of their experiences related to the above mentioned bands. Some speak of how they were inspired by them to become musicians, or how those nights in Brampton were simply some of the best shows they’ve ever experienced.

Singers Keshia Chante and Danny Fernandez

Singers Keshia Chante and Danny Fernandes

The city has had stars of other musical genres call it home. Canadian R&B sensation and host of BET’s 106 and Park, Keshia Chante once lived here, as did another pop mainstay Danny Fernandes. Broaden the musical scope a little more and you’ll note that one of the most popular music video directors in the industry, Director (Little) X, is also from “The B City.” Behind the scenes, he is an industry benchmark and has directed music videos for pop culture luminaries including David Guetta, Justin Bieber, DMX, and Rihanna.

Director X & Scott Thompson

Music video Director X and Comedian Scott Thompson (Right photo credit: Jesse Grant)

There have been big film and TV stars that have also come out of Brampton. Older readers may remember a sketch comedy program called, Kids in the Hall. One of its stand out troupe members was Scott Thompson. Appearing in classic programs like The Larry Sanders Show, The Simpsons, and the current NBC hit, Hannibal, Mr. Thompson is a prominent, yet seemingly unknown star from Brampton.

Aaron and Shawn Ashmore

Aaron and Shawn Ashmore

A more contemporary reference may be Shawn Ashmore, a.k.a The Iceman from the X-Men movie franchise. His twin brother, Aaron, has also appeared in many productions including a prominent role in another superhero franchise, Smallville.

Brampton can provide the environment to inspire and nurture great talents.

There is also the understatedly brilliant Michael Cera. Stop everything right now, and watch Arrested Development. We’ll wait….finished?

Well, that shy kid in the show is from Brampton! Or better yet watch the tragically overlooked film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an amazing big budget Hollywood movie, with a legitimate Brampton reference in it! Scott Pilgrim himself is from Brampton.

Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Clearly, there are some world class talents from this city, many that have probably been neglected in this article, but the biggest one, and most passionate ambassador for the city is comedy superstar Russell Peters. With his ground breaking, yet universally relatable anecdotes of growing up in Brampton with immigrant parents, Mr. Peters has achieved international acclaim and amassed a huge fortune as one of the world’s biggest stand up comics. What makes him even more important to the Brampton scene is that he openly promotes and brings positive attention to the city. Brampton is an important part of his act, and an important part of who he is as a person. His comedy has helped bridge cultural gaps and provided a new common ground for Brampton residents to build on.

Comedian Russell Peters

Comedian Russell Peters, photo credit: Ianiv & Arieanna.

Clearly, there have been big showbiz names that have come out of Brampton. There is also an emerging generation of various do-ers from Brampton that are ready to make huge impacts in their specific fields. Friendly Rich once said, “Brampton is a fine place to do work and produce stuff. People leave you alone, it’s moderately quiet . . . There’s a lot of contributing factors.” Unfortunately, the tragedy of Brampton is that top class talent can not be sustained in the city.

Brampton can provide the environment to inspire and nurture great talents, yet the city has yet to establish a way to maximize the passions and various talents of the creative residents. We have to find a new way to increase awareness of the treasures right before our eyes before we can meet our potential as a great place to live.