Mr. Silver: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise on behalf of all of my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly to pay tribute to local born-and-raised Yukoner, Stephen Kozmeniuk. As many of you have heard, Stephen is credited as the songwriter and producer on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which won the best rap album at this year’s Grammy Awards. This is one of the highest accomplishments anyone in the music business can receive, and I congratulate him on that. During the highly publicized Grammy Awards, Kendrick Lamar performed the song that Stephen wrote and produced, The Blacker the Berry, which became one of the most impassioned and widely discussed songs after its release.
Madam Speaker, I’ve known Stephen since his high school days when he was really starting to develop his music skills, learning new and different instruments, jamming with more experienced local musicians and writing his first songs. It’s important to note at this time the relationship that he had with a local musician, Bruce Bergman, who at that time saw huge potential in Stephen and who still keeps in touch with Stephen. As a young man at that time with lots of potential, we all saw that this guy was going places.
Madam Speaker, after he graduated from Porter Creek Secondary School, he took on his music full force, starting his solo act, Boy, and released his first album in 2002. He toured with this album, opening for many great artists. He also at that time performed at the Dawson City Music Festival. The year that he came to Dawson City Music Festival as one of our performers, I was on the board of directors. I thoroughly enjoyed his charismatic nature and the complexity of his music. Everyone I talked to and who saw him perform was blown away, including me. At that point, I knew he was already a professional musician at such a young age.
Madam Speaker, he soon moved to Toronto, incorporating new musicians into his band. In 2008, the band, Boy, was disbanded. Stephen had realized that his love for music lay behind the scenes as a composer and as a producer, so he packed up his bags and moved to Sweden to work with Jonas Quant. After he returned to Toronto, Stephen’s career took off. His first big project was a collaboration with sound engineer Demacio Castellon on Madonna’s MDNA album. Since then, he has worked with many famous and upcoming artists, including Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, Shawn Hook, Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa, and Benny Benassi.
Madam Speaker, Stephen has and will continue to make huge contributions to the music world and we have nothing but to benefit from that. His work as a producer amplifies what artists are saying — taking the listener on a journey through the song. I look forward to watching his music grow and to seeing what he produces in the future.
Thank you to Stephen for embracing your dreams. You have become a role model for many young musicians in the Yukon and I wish you the best. Madam Speaker, I would like to ask all of my colleagues in the Legislature today to help me in welcoming to the gallery Stephen’s mother Chris Bedford, Stephen’s father Dale Kozmen, his wife Jennifer Kozmen, and also friends of the family, Ranj Pillai, Lauren Muir and Don Inverarity.
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