Maestro Fresh Wes An Inspiration Beyond The Hip Hop World

By Karen Bliss 8/1/13 |

Maestro Fresh Wes at one of his speaking engagements.
Maestro Fresh Wes, who is celebrating 25 years in hip hop with his first full-length studio album in 13 years, Orchestrated Noise, and still holds the record in Canada for the top-selling Canadian hip hop album with 1989’s Symphony In Effect featuring the No. 1 hit "Let Your Backbone Slide," has been a huge inspiration for many Canadian rappers that followed in his footsteps.

But his dedication to everything he does, including an equally successful acting career — he currently stars in the CBC comedy series Mr. D — is what leads people outside of hip hop or the music industry in general to respect him and seek his words of wisdom.

The 45-year-old Toronto native, born Wes Williams, has also been involved with many causes and charities throughout the years, including Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, War Child, Save The Children, Covenant House, Special Olympics, Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), and The African AIDS Society. The list is really too numerous. He has also been honoured with the Award of Merit by the Black Business Professionals Association (BBPA) for continuing contributions in the black community in Canada, as well as the Canadian music industry.

“I’m involved with many things. It’s not one specific thing,” Maestro tells Samaritanmag, but he is particularly proud of the mentorship he provides through his speaking engagements and the book he wrote in 2010 (with his wife Tamara) entitled Stick To Your Vision: How to Get Past The Hurdles & Haters To Get Where You Want To Be (the foreword, by the way, is by Chuck D of Public Enemy).

“With my book Stick To Your Vision, I do presentations and go into high schools and elementary schools as well as sports teams. It’s a continuous thing. This year alone is my third year doing reading for the Read To Succeed workshop for the TDSB (Toronto District School Board), I do that every year. That’s what I do, man.”

In 2012, Maestro was the luncheon speaker for Reading For The Love of It, the 36th Annual Language Arts Conference in Toronto. “In his presentation, Wes outlines practical and empowering strategies that help define a personal vision, how to achieve it, and what to do once you’re there,” the program read. “Employing the three principles outlined in his book Stick to Your Vision: EXPECTATION, OPERATION and DESTINATION, Wes offers useful tips and advice, as well as inspirational stories, quotes, and exercises to help young people achieve their goals, and stay on the right path towards their own vision.”

The key message — whether he’s talking to teenagers or elementary school  kids, business people or athletes — doesn’t change, Maestro tells Samaritanmag.

“The book is broken down into three sections, which is Expectation, Operation, and Destination, so basically set high expectations for yourself,; operation is the work you need to do to get to your destination, whatever that will be. Operation is putting that to work  — networking, politicking, studying — it’s operation; you’ve got to put that work in to get to whatever destination you want.

“I customize those three principles for the lecture, whatever it is. I did Reebok Canada a few weeks ago for their national sales & marketing conference; I was their keynote speaker. Earlier that week I was doing the workshops for elementary school students. I just customize my stuff.”

He says those three principles were instilled in him as a child or teenager “without knowing about it.”

“It’s something I can look back and look at my work and see that I’ve always set high expectations of myself, even when people put limitations on me. And the ‘operation,’ like I said, is just the work you’ve got to put in, and I think I’ve been doing pretty good work. And I’ve reached a few destinations in my time — and one of them is commemorating my 25th anniversary as Maestro Fresh Wes.”

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* is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.