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Waterloo singer-songwriter one of Canada's top independent artists

Inspiration for ‘Listen to your Heart’ came from looking back at some darker moments in his life
JP Sunga
Photo by Luke Gray Photography

Solo artist, John Paul (JP) Sunga, describes music as the core of who he is. Although he would come close to fulfilling his dream of releasing a full-length album, obstacles would always appear, inhibiting his ability to see it through. “I decided to go against all odds and sensibility,” he jokes, “to finally fulfill that life-long dream of mine.”

After his children were born, he began to find new inspiration. “I started collaborating with other artists, and even had the opportunity to write a couple original songs for KW Glee. I wrote ‘Hope, Try, Stand Tall’ with Mark "Pelli" Pellizzer, the guitarist of the Juno award winning band MAGIC! You may know them from their hit song ‘Rude’.”

“My love for music started from a young age; there were recordings of me singing jingles when I was just one-year-old. I was introduced to the piano around the age of nine. The possibility of creating my own melodies was exhilarating, by the age of 12, I was hooked.”

His career would start around the millennium, “I was actively playing in and around the Greater Toronto Area, writing music for myself and collaborating with other artists. During that time, I had put out a small EP,” he said.

He recounts the difficulties he faced, describing them as heavy and tough times. “I lost my mom to cancer, and was less compelled to perform publicly anymore. I then started experiencing issues with my voice. To top it all off, I hit a major writer’s block; it felt like I hit a dead end with music.”

Sunga says he lost his confidence as a solo performer and began hiding from the stage. During his break from music he married his high school girlfriend, a classical flautist.

Although not actively pursuing a music career, there was a voice inside he could no longer ignore. “With kids in the picture and the inevitable business of getting older, I started to think about what I still wanted to accomplish in my life. The dream of recording a full-length album seemed like a far stretch now with limited time and finances, but remained high on my list of past regrets.”

Sunga’s debut album project, recorded at Hillifer Studios, in Kitchener, is the legacy he says he wants to leave for his kids.

The album’s themes are hope and perseverance. “Part of my journey had me uncovering a lot, leading me to, sometimes difficult, discoveries about my own mental wellness; some of which I'm still processing today. I've come to realize that these are stories and lessons that may help others in their path towards hope and overcoming challenges.”

“The full album itself is slated to drop in December, but I will be releasing a handful of singles from the album throughout the year, starting with my very first single, ‘Listen to your Heart’. ​”

Sunga says ‘Listen to your Heart’ encourages us to listen to the voice within that challenges us to endure, no matter how dark it gets.

The video was directed by emerging Waterloo Region film-maker, Nicholas Dragas, and features choreography by Jenna Gagliardi, who also stars as the dancer.

To offset the cost of producing the album Sunga created a crowd-funding campaign via INDIEGOGO the deadline to support his dream is February 15.

“Folks have just a couple weeks left, to pre-order the full-length album. Those who support will be invited to exclusive behind the scenes updates, throughout the year, as I work to complete the album. Higher tiered perks even include a chance to be a part of the album, as well as a private house concert.”

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