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Junetta Jamerson

Junetta JamersonJunetta Jamerson is a fifth-generation descendant of a very musical Black American family that settled in Junkins, Alberta. Junetta is the eldest daughter of LeVero Carter, the father of gospel music in Edmonton, and his wife Judy Carter. Raised by her grandmother, Velma Carter, a Black pioneer who grew up in Junkins and taught school there, Junetta grew up in Edmonton with her siblings Leah and Thaine.

As an ambassador to the Black community in Alberta, Junetta has sought to maintain the proud heritage of her ancestors. She does this through her involvement as a founding member of the Black Pioneer Descendants’ Society and the organizer of the Society's annual Soul Food dinner, held in Edmonton each February.

In the summer of 2006, Junetta carried on the history of her pioneer ancestors by telling their stories as an oral historian and gospel music performer for the annual, two-week long Smithsonian Institute’s Folklife Festival. Held in Washington, DC, the Festival draws more than a million visitors from around the world. Junetta has been extensively involved in the Black community, taking part in the Canadians of African and Caribbean Heritage’s Afro Quiz Curriculum Development, the National Black Coalition of Canada’s Black History Month Kick-off in Edmonton, and the Edmonton: A City Called Home project’s musical legacy interviews. Junetta also produced and directed The Shoulders on Which We Stand, a musical tribute to Alberta's Black pioneers. She is also a performer in plays and musicals, and she has done voice-over acting for the non-profit radio station CKUA, based in Edmonton.

Black Pioneer Heritage Singers with Mavis StaplesAmong her many community endeavours, Junetta is also a musical historian. She is the founder and director of the Edmonton-based Black Pioneer Heritage Singers, a gospel group dedicated to preserving the style of vocalizing and musicianship that Alberta's Black pioneers brought with them from the southern United States nearly a century ago. According to Junetta, “Authentic Black gospel, true to our distinct heritage of faith, is not an expected part of Alberta’s cultural fabric. Yet those who encounter it seldom soon forget their experience. It’s amazing that a sound which is obviously Southern is now uniquely Albertan.”

Junetta has been singing gospel music around the city since she was a child. In choirs, her powerful soprano voice has shared the stage with Frank Wilson and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama. As a solo artist, she has performed with greats such as Solomon Burke and Ron Kenoly. On 23 May 2005, her Black Pioneer Heritage Singers, accompanied by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, jazz musician Tommy Banks, and trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann, sang for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

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