To finish out the season, we bring you a talk from Toronto with rising roots singer-songwriter and folk philosopher AHI (pronounced “eye”), who celebrated the release of his acclaimed third full-length album Prospect in November.
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Born in Brampton, Ontario, to Jamaican and Trinidadian immigrant parents, AHI (short for Ahkinoah Habah Izarh) didn’t initially plan to pursue music — and scared his large family of teachers and educators by jumping ship from college and traveling wildly instead with just his guitar by his side. Stints seeing the remote villages in Ethiopia and Trinidad as well as backpacking all across his native Canada filled his songwriting inkwell to bursting. He also began building his family (he has four children who often appear in playful videos), and he isn’t shy about saying his wife is his muse and number one supporter. His forceful We Made It Through The Fire came in 2017, with the catchy and tender tune “Ole’ Sweet Day” being streamed nearly 20 million times since.
Becoming a traveler again, this time as a storyteller sharing his ever-growing catalogue (the hooky and politically-charged In Our Time came in 2018) forced AHI to be away from his family for months at a time — and as the pandemic arrived, his priorities began to shift. Prospect is his most heartfelt and introspective work yet, diving into where he stands as a Black man raising Black boys in a dangerous but increasingly hopeful world. Using booming gospel backing vocals and sweeping church-like reverb behind his warm acoustic guitar and silky voice, a standout like “Coldest Fire” feels like a post-George Floyd reckoning piece as well as a pure poetic pop jam.
Stick around to the end of the talk to hear AHI discuss how he would make vegan nachos for Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dave Chapelle — and he ends the show with an acoustic rendition of the sexy “Until You.”
Photo courtesy of Shore Fire