The Soul Motivators
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The Soul Motivators

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band R&B Funk




"Double Barrel of Babylon Soul"

Yeah, the Soul Motivators are going to attract a crowd.

“You’re going to want to start filling up that dance floor now,” shouted lead singer Shahi Teruko not just appearing on stage after the band’s intro but utterly owning it within seconds as the 8-piece backing her cracked the night open with a merciless bombardment of music. The horn section could have been laced with TnT with the amount of explosiveness coming from the corner of the stage while “Jimmy Keys” hammered out cuts that could have been lifted right off the records by Magnificent and Walker’s turntable. - Ottawa Life Magazine

"Concert Sampler for March 15"

Debut EP release show for T.O. 9-piece outfit who lay down thick and unabashedly retro grooves. Topped by soul diva Lydia Persaud’s powerhouse voice, the brass and bass propel things along a la Tower of Power meets the Fabulous Flames — it’s top-drawer, vintage funk. Moskito, 10 p.m. - Toronto Star

"The Soul Motivators - Free to Believe"

The Soul Motivators are a nine-piece Torontonian soul-funk troop that play as a seamless unit. And every member of that stacked roster has plenty of time to shine on their latest LP, Free to Believe. - Exclaim!

"Event Review: Ottawa Gets Funky with The Soul Motivators"

This past Friday night, Ottawa got down and funky with The Soul Motivators on the occasion of the ensemble’s EP Release Party at the Mercury Lounge. The 9-piece vintage funk band from Toronto performed live in the National Capital as part of a mini-tour of four cities meant to promote their latest album comprised of 5 solid tracks infused with retro funk. Inspired and influenced by the likes of James Brown, The New Mastersounds, The Meters, Fela Kuti and Stevie Wonder, the group has been gaining momentum throughout club scenes and festival stages for the past couple of years.

The Soul Motivators kicked off their intimate set without their main singer, which lead some to believe that she wasn’t going to perform at the Ottawa show. After playing three songs however, Soul Sister Lydia Persaud made her way to the stage fashionably-late and joined the rest of the musicians with the help of her silky soulful voice. Persaud has great stage presence, tons of charisma and a big personality that fits right in to the style and sound projected by the musicians.

The talented horn-section, comprised of trombonist Nathan Dell-Vandenberg, trumpetist Thomas Moffett and saxophonist Dominique Morier, was extremely skilled and entertaining as the trio acted as back-up dancers and singers at times, clearly not taking themselves too seriously.

The Soul Motivators’ set list included the buzzing singles Until the Sun Comes Down and Gravy Train along with Walk Away, Your One Last Chance and Live a Lil not performed in that order.

Their hour and 30 minute set, paused by a short break, flew by as the group’s connection with the crowd made for an extremely lively and energizing performance. With a live show like this, it’s nearly impossible to stay still. You simply can’t fight the contagious soul sounds that seem to take control over every abled body on the dance floor and the crowd ends up moving and grooving along to every song. At one point, Persaud even thanked the crowd for consistently dancing to the group’s new music in a celebration of their new EP.

The Soul Motivators’ refreshing live performance delivered a strong dose of soul food rooted in deep funk to Ottawa music enthusiasts.

If you like Ottawa’s own The Souljazz Orchestra, do yourself a favor and check out this must-see show next time the ensemble stops by Canada’s National Capital.

To find out more about The Soul Motivators, visit their official website and grab their new EP if you like their sound. Your ears and soul will thank you for it! - Eventful Capital

"Urban Planner: March 15, 2013"

MUSIC: Nine-piece funk band The Soul Motivators has only been playing live for a little over a year, but it has already become a popular draw at nightspots around town. Tonight, the band headlines its EP release party, with DJs Voltaire (of the Soul Surrender series) and Andy B. Bad. Bite (423 College Street), 10:00 pm, $10. - Torontoist

"High Time for Motivation: Marc Shapiro Funks It Up"

The funk/soul scene in Toronto is thriving in 2013, thanks in no small part to the efforts of The Soul Motivators – a nine­piece combo that’s been blazing through the city with a potent me´lange of retro sounds and top­notch chops. Fronted by the powerful voice and beguiling presence of Lydia Persaud, the group packs much of its punch via a three­member horn section and the percussive contributions of Nigel Pitt. The dancefloor­readiness and raw energy on display at a typical show is something to behold, with all of the bands members fully prepared to immerse the audience in a relentless musical explosion.
Manning the bass guitar, in all its groove­tastic glory, is Marc Shapiro – a tenured vet of the local funk scene. Having earned his stripes as a King Sunshine linchpin, Marc was one of the architects of The Soul Motivators’ fruition, and a foremost ambassador for Torontos artistic community. Marc knows more than a thing or two about the city, his chosen brand of spine­tingling tunes, and music in general. We were lucky to break bread with the low­ end guru ahead of his ensembles EP release party, which goes down tonight at BITE on College. We hope you enjoy our exchange, and that you make haste to get down with The Soul Motivators as soon as possible..
SV – Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Marc. We know you from King Sunshine and now The Soul Motivators. What is it about funky dance music that speaks to you as an artist?
MS – No problem. It’s my pleasure, thank you. The funk connects from both a band and crowd perspective, solid pulsing rooted rhythms can quickly inspire a collective energy. As a bass player I have always been drawn to groove based rooted percussive playing and I have been extremely fortunate to find musicians with a similar perspectives that share a relative vision, musical synergy and work ethic.
SV – What other musical styles are near and dear to your heart?
MS – Many sounds resonate with me, it really depends on the day and the moment, what I will get into. Whether it be deep house, some classic disco, jazz, PHISH, soul, Motown, rock n’ roll or the dirty dirty funk. Music is music. Certain things resonate more then others with much to choose from.
SV – You’re a Toronto guy. What elements of the city do you feel naturally weave their way into your music?
MS – I have found much inspiration from digging into the Toronto nightlife, back in the days parties like Movement, Industry, Footprints – late nights on the dance floor, feeling how a well programmed set can move and inspire hours of dancing and vibes. Hearing new music, hearing music I would never hear anywhere else and at just the right time, surrounded by people equally excited and into the moment.
SV – Do you think that your musical course would have been much different had you been born somewhere else? Is there something special about Toronto that nurtured your specific style?
MS – I think your surroundings definitely help shape your influence and artistic development. It’s hard to say what would have been somewhere else. I guess you can say if I was raised in PEI then there could potentially have been more funk in the jigs. You can funk a jig, no? Toronto has definitely kept me inspired by the continuous flow of great DJs, radio programs, and groove­related live music communities.
SV – What can you tell us about the genesis of The Soul Motivators and your experience developing the band?
MS – The Soul Motivators are a well­oiled funk machine, a solid crew that rolls completely on the same page. From the beginning we had a common goal and passion, which was to chew into the dirtiest funk that we could sink our teeth into, as well as get behind and build on our own original sound & live show. I believe that when you have a respect for your artistic progression and set achievable goals with a group that takes initiative and contributes varied talents, then you’re able to get motion within your development, and vibrations find their way into all aspects.
SV – You’ve got a deep and pedigreed group of people playing in the band. Tell us a bit about them.
MS – The Soul Motivators hold some solid talent and experience that seems to gel. Our different musical backgrounds and learning styles blend well across the board. We have self­taught musicians, funk trotters, soul enthusiasts, DJs, “sophistifunks”, graphic designers, and generally a loud appreciation for similar musical approaches and sounds.
SV – Who writes the songs?
MS – We have a few different approaches to presenting new songs. Jimmy Keys – the keyboard player – is responsible for some original writing. Nate Dell – on trombone – and myself also bring some new original concepts into the fold. Some ideas are complete and others are further inspired by the band. Sometimes, ideas start as blueprints and the band bends and shapes new ideas to even more defined new ideas, and sometimes we like to g - Society Vernacular

"Soul Motivators Keep Funk Alive"

Here’s some Deep Funk to spruce up your Monday morning for you. A 9 piece Funk outfit, The Soul Motivators have been steady filling dance floors since 2011. Comprised of veterans of the Toronto, CA underground music scene that include Lydia Persaud on vocals, James Robinson on keybaords, Voltaire Ramos on guitar, Marc Shapiro on bass, Doug Melville on drums, Nigel Pitt on percussion, and a three person horn section ( Nathan Dell-Vandenberg trombone, Thomas Moffett trumpet, Dominique Moirier sax), the Soul Motivators bring fresh sound to the masses. Carrying on the tradition of their influential legends such as The Meters, Headhunters, and James Brown, while adding the flavor of their contemporaries such as Speedometer, El Michels Affair and others, The Soul Motivators make no apologies about their high energy output. Their original music is littered with classic Funk breaks, horn stabs, and nods which most of us diggers think of as second nature. I always make that mistake, thinking when I hear a sample, that everyone else knows it. Take, for example, the Ann Robinson “You Did It” horns from the track below, “Gravy Train”. As soon as I heard the riff, I thought, Ann Robinson, Fat Boy Slim, now The Soul Motivators. Cool. However, most of the public just hears some catchy horns. This band is giving the audience not just an entertaining, sweat filled, dance frenzy night, but an education and a history lesson of Funk and Soul riffs as well. Following the same path as a band like Breakestra, they fuse the old sounds with their new Deep Funk sound and it’s definitely a good thing to hear.

If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future, and TSM stick to that formula, keeping the old sound alive while injecting a bit of their own philosophy into the music. Both ways are funky as it can get. Well known on the Jazz festival circuit as well as Canadian radio, The Soul Motivators look poised for moving to the next level. It looks like Detroit’s Funk Night Records will be releasing their first 45, “When The Sun Goes Down” (not to be confused with the Lack of Afro cover of Arctic Monkeys 45) early this Summer. We will be definitely looking for that slice of 7? heaven. Stay tuned. - Flea Market Funk

"Afrika Bambaataa at Revival"

Last week, Make It Funky, Activate and Nu Funk brought Afrika Bambaataa, alongside MC K Swift, DJ Farbsie Funk, DJ Tasc and the Soul Motivators to Revival. The night was fairly simple; nothing fancy, nothing boisterous, but a great night with some real funk music and the reminecse of a 1980s hip­hop basement party.
We may have missed DJ Evan G, or perhaps he wasn’t there, but we caught DJ Tasc just in time at the jump of the night, opening up the floor for the slow and steady intake of fans. DJ Farbsie Funk followed him and got the crowd settled in playing an array of funk breaks and electro­funk records, until 11:30pm, when the explosive 9­piece band Soul Motivators took to the stage.
With three members on the horns (trombone, trumpet and saxophone), one on the keys, two on the bongo/drums, two on guitar and one sassy lady named Lydia doing vocals, the band played a mash­up of soul, funk and hip­hop to create the ultimate soundscape leading into the night. Playing an variety of new funk, soul funk and electro­funk, including the classic “Apache” and their latest single “Gravy Train” (with a swift shot at Rob Ford in the introduction), it was a mind­blowing set. The Soul Motivators truly showed out that night and were the stars of the show.
Shortly after 1am, MC K­Swift came on with Afrika Bambaataa and became the sole mouthpiece of the duo. While Bambaataa was very reserved and simply faded into the background (I know, how is that possible!?), MC K­Swift directed all the focus of the night onto the dance floor. Bambaataa played a lot of electro­pop, breaks and funk effortlessly allowing b­boys and b­girls to take over the floor. It was a powerful thing to watch, almost making me forget a legend was on stage and nobody was paying him any attention. Or that that same legend played Cee­lo‘s “Fuck You” instead of his own “Planet Rock”. Regardless, I think he wanted it that way. Was Bambaataa’s set what I expected? Absolutely not. Was the dance­floor rammed? Absolutely.
I guess the night sums up into the following words: “It’s not the old school, it’s not the new school, it’s the true school.” Enjoy the photos! - Bad Perm

"The Soul Motivators funk up Toronto with their debut EP release"

If you’re a lover of funk and soul music and you live in Toronto, the chances are you’ve already heard of The Soul Motivators. The nine-piece band has been together only a short time, but has hustled and sweated and played tirelessly to appear in numerous funk shows, festivals and special events around town in the one year-plus since they’ve been together. These eight guys and one soulful mama don’t miss many chances to do their thing.
What’s most impressive is that the band has kept up the pace of their many shows, all while spending months in the studio recording their debut self-titled EP, which drops this March 2013 with shows in Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
The Soul Motivators, as their website bio describes them, are “here to restore your faith in funk.” Their sound, guitarist and co-founder Voltaire Ramos explains, harkens back to something of a bygone era. Why do they want this sound? “It’s nostalgia for honest, authentic, non-commercially-driven music,” he says. “It’s music from the gut ... you can really hear the gritty honesty just oozing out of ’70s funk. I think the sound we love is driven by something other than chasing dollars and commercial success.”
That analog, one-take approach from their favourite ’60s and ’70s records remains a driving inspiration for their sound. They even limited themselves to eight microphones in the session, to “create that retro style and sound.”
Ramos notes that the band’s members all came to funk — along with influences like classic hip-hop, soul and Afrobeat — in a number of ways. In his case, it was growing up in the ’80s near Trinity Bellwoods Park and in the ’90s in Rexdale where his crate-digging tendencies came about. “I was surrounded by hip-hop the whole time. I loved the fat bass lines, the drum breaks, the scratchy rhythm guitar, and the horns that were all over the samples they’d use,” he says, citing the likes of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, NAS, A Tribe Called Quest and others as early references. “I started exploring the music they sampled and pretty much found a treasure trove of awesome music: obscure soul, funk, jazz – music that you would never hear on commercial radio.”
He also mentions that through the late-’90s Movement parties in Toronto, helmed by DJ Jason Palma, he learned to see the connections between different styles of music as diverse as hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, Latin, blues and soul. Other members of The Soul Motivators may have different trajectories for finding the music they wanted to make with this project, but they’ve ended up together in a formation that allows them to produce the sounds they love.
The band formed in 2011 after Ramos, drummer Doug Melville and keyboard player James Robinson decided to change up the funk approach from a previous group they’d been in (Ambassadors, circa 2009). ”We wanted to explore a rawer, grittier sound.” They soon connected with bassist Marc Shapiro of King Sunshine, and added him on, along with the three-man horn section of Nathan Dell-Vandenberg (trombone), Dominique Morier (saxophone) and Thomas Moffett (trumpet). Next came vocalist Lydia Persaud and finally, percussionist Nigel Pitt on congas, bells and other fun rhythmic elements.
Soul Motivators caught the attention of Toronto’s CBC Radio One early on: Until the Sun Goes Down was a track of the week on the afternoon show Here and Now, and Gravy Train, another signature tune, received a fair bit of airplay. After we heard Gravy Train, we had to ask about the story behind the song, and its composer, keyboard player James Robinson obliged:
“As a songwriter, I wanted to pay tribute to James Brown’s soul divas – Lyn Collins, Marva Whitney et al. They’d sing songs of empowerment after being messed around by a no-good man. There’s a universality to that, just as many of us have been hard done by in the recent economic downtown. So it’s a two-fold response to those two scenarios. Of course, you can infer a little ‘local flavour’ if you wish (not naming any names; nudge-nudge, wink- wink, say no more). This song gets a good reaction at shows because lyrically it appeals to Toronto. But more than that, its a soulful 12-bar groove you’d find on a dusty, old 45. A rare gem from the bottom of the crate. And it makes you wanna move!”
Of the many gigs they’ve played in their year or so together, the band counts high-profile opening slots for the likes of Lee Fields and Afrika Bambaataa (this past fall 2012) among the highlights, but they have also played memorable happenings like Footprints’ Halloween jam last October and parties at the Great Hall such as CirQlar’s Shag in February 2012 and Jen Orenstein of Maracatu Mar Aberto’s recent My Funky Valentine bash. (They also maintain a monthly residency at the Orbit Room every second Thursday of the month.) And while it may surprise those who think of Toronto as a cultural hotspot, Ramos gives the prize for most memorable audience to a gig in Hamilton (then again, this may not surprise a - Uma Nota

"The Soul Motivators 7""

Our good friends over in Detroit at Funk Night Records always have something new they’re working on. We’ve just received word that they’re releasing a new 7” from Toronto Canada’s “The Soul Motivators” in the very near future. Funk Night is one of those labels that you never know what to expect, but always expect something good. From Deep Funk to Hip Hop, Detroit to Saint Petersburg Russia, the catalog runs deep and will surely be one of those sought after labels years down the line. - Hot Peas & Butta

"The Soul Motivators Building Future Legacies"

The Soul Motivators are a nine-piece band funk and soul band that focus on creating late '60s sounds on Free to Believe, their first full-length album. But that fixation doesn't make the Toronto troop antiquated. - Exclaim!


Still working on that hot first release.



The Soul Motivators are here to restore your faith in funk. This nine-piece Toronto powerhouse brings an explosive live energy to every show they play. Reviving a classic sound, they blend 1970’s funk and soul, psychedelic jams and hip-hop breaks to great effect- forging an original path through the modern music scene. A bursting horn section, towering vocals and timeless grooves motivate you straight to the dance floor.

TSM have been making waves since their eponymous EP release in 2013. They’ve shared stages with greats like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Lee Fields, Bernie Worrell and A Tribe Called Red. They have electrified crowds at TD Jazz Festival, Yonge-Dundas Square, The PanAm Games, NXNE and TEDx. Their debut album, Free to Believe, was released on Do Right! Music in May 2015, to national and international acclaim. In 2017 they introduced two new vinyl releases on Detroit’s Funk Night Records, followed up with a string of sold out Canadian tour dates.

The Soul Motivators are now set to release their sophomore album in Spring 2018 on Do Right! Music, featuring the power-house vocal stylings of new leading lady Shahi Teruko. Teruko is a force of nature - bringing relentless fire to recordings and live shows while elevating the band to new heights. Her performances are electric; shaking up audiences and always leaving them wanting more. This new album builds on a strong tradition of powerful, visceral music that steals your heart and makes you move; but it’s also a big step forward for the band - welcoming new fans as they enter a new phase of their evolution.

In an era when music is often a backdrop to passing trends, TSM stay true to their musical roots - displaying a powerful identity that is unique and relevant. They are fresh, exuberant and full of soul - and it’s only up from here. 

Let yourself be motivated!

Band Members