Three years ago, Mohsin Zaman was a banker who played open-mic nights around the city and had just attended his first-ever music festival. Now, the local talent has released two albums, been awarded the 2016 Male Artist of the Year at the Edmonton Music Awards, and was recently named the Edmonton Folk Festival’s very first Artist-in-Residence. Zaman says, “There’s this perception that it’s hard to have a music career in Edmonton, so it’s great that there are many different ways that honour and show respect to the arts.”
Being immersed in the crowd at that first festival and experiencing the awe and respect for folk musician Ben Howard, Zaman was inspired. “I saw him and I was like, I want to play a song on that stage next year. And I did.” So Zaman started with the School of Song, a local educational outreach program designed to help build young, emerging musicians and songwriters. The program provides names of promising talents to the Folk Festival’s producer, Terry Wickham, who did indeed put Zaman on the stage. And he was the runner-up that year for the Emerging Artist Award.
Fast-forward to today and the talented musician is beginning an artist residency, where he will flip his role from student to mentor. His new position includes travelling to schools and different communities to conduct workshops for developing musicians. “I come from a diverse cultural background, so the goal is to get through to the multicultural community in Edmonton,” explains Zaman. “There’s so much ethnic music in our own city that no one knows about, and many individuals in these communities don’t know that something as big as Folk Fest exists.” Zaman is grateful for his time in Edmonton, especially as an emerging artist. “For the most part, it’s an embracing and loving community with amazing, insane talent. Some of the most inspirational songwriters I’ve heard are in this city,” he says. “I love watching good bands perform and being in that presence.” To add to his busy year, he’s taking those inspirations and will begin work on his third album, which he hopes will accurately represent his growth in the industry.
Visit Zaman’s website for more information about his music and upcoming performances.