inkloosiv voices

This group is mixing Pride with gospel music and Toronto is loving it

This Pride, an unexpected musical movement is proving to be an engine for love, hope, and inclusivity in Toronto.

Inkloosiv Voices is Toronto's very first LGBTQ+ Gospel and R&B choir made up of both queer vocalists and allies who believe that music, like faith, should never be exclusionary. 

Led by their passionate director, Jacen Duncan, Inkloosiv is creating a welcoming musical community for queers of faith and the music that helps them rise above the noise.  

inkloosiv voicesDuncan explains that the choir is the fruition of a lifelong journey and struggle to find a space where he can fully be himself and connect to choral music and community.

"It's always been my dream to lead a group like this," he says. "It gives me a deep sense of purpose and joy."  

The choir faced their first challenges early on when they held their original auditions in January 2020, with hopes to have a first rehearsal that March. 

A certain virus, of course, had other plans, but the group pressed on and held rehearsals on Zoom until it was safe for choirs and bands to resume live performances.

pride toronto inkloosivTheir first in-person performance was a friends and family picnic at Underpass Park, before moving on to sold out Gospel Brunch shows at The Oud & the Fuzz in Kensington Market.

Duncan says the response to their performances has been a huge driving force.

"We continuously hear how life-giving, joyful, and healing our music is," he explains. "People always say they can palpably feel the love and support in the room."

Fast forward to 2023 when they released a rousing choral video for Black History Month, added new dates to their performance calendar, and, as you might imagine, are making very big plans for their first full-blown Pride show.

Sunday, June 4, Inkloosiv will be hosting, "We Like to Party - with Pride!," a pair of Sunday live shows with special guest, James Baley

Baley is a Juno award-winning singer and multi-disciplinary artist who local dancing queens will also know and love for his work with the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance.

The Pride shows will feature gospel, R&B, and pop hits to get audiences up out of their seats and dancing. 

inkloosiv voicesThere will be a 2 p.m. matinee and a 7 p.m. evening performance, which will be followed by even more dancing ('cause it's Pride!) with music by none other than Pride Toronto legend,  DJ Nik Red.

As the group rehearses for the big day, they're also reflecting on those who made this month possible.

Matty Villemaire, a tenor in the group remarks, "Pride is about honouring all those who braved the storm and walked so that we could run."

inkloosiv voicesWade Muir, another tenor, is quick to add, "We sing songs like, I Survived It, Can't Give up Now, and Joyful Joyful, which to me are anthems of triumph, love, and hope."

The bravery and triumph these vocalists reference in history, is also entirely what I find at the heart of this group's story and what makes it so special. 

I can't help but see the path they themselves are paving for future LGBTQ+ community members to connect to gospel music –and perhaps even the faiths that so many feel sorely alienated from– all because of the work Inkloosiv is doing.

Tickets for the June 4 shows are on sale now, and will likely sell out fast, so be sure to get yours soon.  Then, be prepared to let their spirit lift you up from your seat and out dancing in the aisles.

Photos by

Wade Muir


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