The top 10 musicians from Degrassi
It seems every teen TV show since 1980 has had their in-show high school band, along with a drop-in pop star appearances. Degrassi High starts with the Zit Remedy, and the Next Generation would have Downtown Sasquatch, WhisperHug and others. Keke Palmer, Alanis Morisette, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Fefe Dobson were among the many stars to play themselves on TNG.
Of the list of actors on Degrassi High (originally Degrassi Jr. High), Degrassi (originally Degrassi: The Next Generation), and the TV movies, a number would pursue music careers after leaving the shows.
Here are my picks for the top 10 Degrassi actors to have music careers.
Acting under his given name, Aubrey (Drake) Graham, Drake played "Jimmy" Brooks the basketball star who wound up crippled after a school shooting. Since graduating from the show, Drake's earned three Junos, a Grammy, and over five million in album sales. This year he's already tied the Beatles with every song from If You're Reading This It's Too Late appearing at once on the Billboard charts. If Torontonians have their way, he may one day get a key to the city.
Amanda Stepto played Christine "Spike" Nelson on Degrassi High and Degrassi for a total of 183 episodes. Spike became pregnant at 14 and her daughter Emma is in Degrassi. Stepto now can be heard as "DJ Demanda" and matched up with Stacie Mistysyn "DJ Mistylicious" playing regular gigs. Fans can now find her spinning the best of the 80's at Disgraceland.
Stacie Mistysyn starred in Degrassi High as school journalist hopeful Caitlyn Ryan, and then a TV journalist on Degrassi. Fans followed Caitlyn's romantic relationships with Joey, Claude, Joey again, Claude again, Keith, and Jesse (and not Ms. Avery), and Mistysyn fans can follow her spinning discs as "DJ Mistylicious," often with DJ Demanda (see above).
Jake Epstein has landed a number of musical roles after playing bipolar musician Craig Manning on Degrassi. He's starred in productions of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Billy Elliot. He was the Broadway alternating lead in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and as Gerry Goffin in Broadway's Beautiful: The Carole King story.
Degrassi fans may love or hate "Spinner" Mason depending as the character transitioned from bully to suffering from ADHD to the school shooting and drumming in Downtown Sasquatch. Also the drummer in rock band Dear Love, Kippel is part of Sound Speed! with Degrassi alumni Raymond Ablack ("Sav") on vocals, Dalmar Abuzeid ("Danny") on bass, Jamie Johnston ("Peter") on guitar, Scott Paterson (Degrassi: "Johnny") on trumpet/key-tar.
Mike Lobel who played "Jay" Hogart, maintains his real life personality doesn't resemble his on-screen character. Jay was a bully who was involved in several illegal activities in Degrassi. A drummer since the age of nine, Lobel plays synth, percussion, and ukulele in the Toronto indie band Boys Who Say No.
Nicole Stoffman's Degrassi High character Stephanie Kaye Kobalewsky would immediately be remembered for her attire ("pulling a Stephanie"). After Degrassi High she fell in love with jazz and gypsy jazz. In 2002 she played in Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizzards, formed Nicole Stoffman's Le Jazz Boheme (now disbanded), and performed in French cafes, jazz clubs, and corporate events.
Cassie Steele starred as the relationship troubled "Manny Santos" on Degrassi for 9 years. She was later on the L.A. Complex, and has since moved to L.A. and recorded two full length alt-rock/grunge albums and one EP. "How Much for Happy" was released in 2005 and has a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" on it. "Destructo Doll" was released in 2009; EP "Shifty" was released in 2014.
After sharing a two-year Degrassi onscreen relationship with Drake, as Hazel and Jimmy, Andrea Lewis is happy to be transitioning from acting to music. Lewis played Degrassi's ethnically ashamed Muslim character on the show for five years. She has released two R&B albums, "Float Away" (2005) and "54321" (2010).
In a sort of life imitates art instance, Melissa McIntyre's character Ashley Kerwin on Degrassi leaves the series to pursue a career in music (with Craig). Melissa who loves singing, after Degrassi, would go on to sing as a harmony vocalist in (former INXS singer) JD Fortune's band Fortune.
Did I miss any Degrassi actors who have music careers? Let us know in the comments.
Don't forget to re-watch your favourite Degrassi Jr. High moments.
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