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Sounds of social justice at Surrey’s new Wake Up! music festival, Feb. 23 at KPU

Free admission at the evening concert, first of its kind at the university
Quanah Style, described as “Canada’s most infamous two-spirit trans artist,” headlines Surrey’s new Wake Up! music festival on Thursday, Feb. 23. (Photo:

A new Wake Up! festival in Surrey aims to amplify the voices of BIPOC and Queer artists in the region.

The inaugural “social justice” music festival is planned as a single-evening event Thursday, Feb. 23 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Surrey campus, 6 p.m. start.

With free admission, festival-goers are encouraged to “explore and celebrate social justice with music artists from the local Indigenous, Queer, South Asian and Black communities.”

Performers include headliner Quanah Style plus Ndidi Cascade, Jae Kae, Á’a:líya Warbus, Saint Soldier, Exécwen and MUDHR.


“This is the first time we’ve tried something like this at KPU,” said festival organizer Dr. Gordon Cobb, music instructor at the university.

“We’ll have our Indigenous artist-in-residence doing a hip-hop set, we have a Cree two-spirited trans drag queen named Quanah Style as a headliner, and we have a couple of black women rappers who are amazing, and a South Asian hip-hop artist who’ll do sets in English and Punjabi,” among others artists, Cobb explained.

“It’s going to be pretty rad,” he added. “It’s been a ton of work but something we really need at KPU, because the Surrey music scene is incredible but it gets overshadowed by the Vancouver music scene.”

Artist biographies are posted on the festival website,

Poster for Surrey’s new Wake Up! music festival.
Poster for Surrey’s new Wake Up! music festival.

The music will be heard in the Spruce Building atrium, on the south end of KPU’s Surrey campus, 12666 72 Ave. in Newton.

• WATCH: KPU’s ‘O Canada’ video remixes anthem with rarely-heard lyrics, graphic-novel look.

Back in 2020, Cobb led the effort to create KPU’s “O Canada” anthem “remix” video for playing at convocation ceremonies, and MUDHR, a former music-tech class student of his, is featured in the video. Another of the Wake Up! fest performers, Exécwen, was also in that class in 2018.

“They’re both emerging artists in the local music scene, and great music producers of their own original music,” Cobb said, “so I felt it was important to include them in the (Wake Up!) festival with veterans of the hip-hop scene like Á’a:líya Warbus and Ndidi Cascade.

“We’ll be playing the ‘O Canada’ video there before the live performances, along with some similar-styled videos that will play in between the live music artists,” Cobb added.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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