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Neison Hardy, Prolific Drummer and Distinguished Musician Has Died

Neison Hardy, a revered figure in the music world, particularly in the realm of reggae, passed away in Edmonton, Alberta on May 1, 2024, at the age of 40. Hardy, who bravely battled diabetes, ultimately succumbed to kidney failure. His untimely death marks a significant loss for the Canadian music scene and the broader international reggae community.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1983, Neison Hardy’s passion for drumming ignited at a tender age. He began his musical journey by transforming household items into makeshift drums, showcasing his innate rhythm and talent. This early enthusiasm was nurtured in his local church, where he watched his brother, O’Neal Hardy, and other musicians, and absorbed the vibrant musical atmosphere.

Hardy’s formal musical education began at Calabar High School, where he dedicated himself to honing his craft. His exceptional talent quickly became evident as he started performing at various venues in Jamaica, including Christopher’s Jazz Café and Red Bones. His big break came when he began playing drums for the legendary Beres Hammond, a partnership that solidified his reputation as a top-tier drummer.

In 2011, Hardy relocated to Canada, a move that significantly expanded his musical horizons. Under the mentorship of Denise Jones, Hardy took on leading roles in her productions and played in numerous prominent Toronto churches. His versatility and skill led him to join several bands, including Mountain Edge, Dizzy Minott & The Arsenals Band, and The DNA Project. His reputation grew as he performed with an array of artists, both local and international, such as Marcia Griffiths, Etana, Richie Spice, Ernie Smith, Ken Booth, Pluto Shervington, Freddie McGregor, Junior Reid, Michael Rose, Daville, and LUST.

Hardy was a fixture at many of Toronto’s music festivals, often performing for multiple artists in a single day. Festivals like Jambana, Irie Fest, Jamaica Day, One Love Festival, The CNE, Jazz Fest, Rasta Fest, and Afro Fest regularly featured his dynamic drumming.

His involvement in the Canadian Juno Awards and his role in curating music for the Stages Canada program highlighted his influence and commitment to nurturing emerging talent. Hardy also formed his own band, Di Cru, and dedicated time to mentoring young musicians and teaching reggae seminars at Long and McQuade music stores.

In addition to his live performances, Hardy made his mark as a producer, working with artists such as Carlos Morgan and Amber Hardy. His production work includes a reggae rendition of ‘Just Jane’ and a reggae version of ‘A Kiss to Build a Dream On.’

Hardy’s last public performances were for the Canadian Tire Gala in Edmonton and an event for the Jamaica Tourist Board celebrating WestJet’s direct flights from Edmonton to Jamaica.

Neison Hardy is remembered not only for his extraordinary musical talent but also for his dedication to maintaining high standards in reggae music. His legacy is one of passion, mentorship, and an unwavering commitment to his craft.

Hardy is survived by his wife, singer Amber Hardy, and their son, Matthew Hardy. In honor of his memory, a GoFundMe page has been set up to support the Hardy family during this difficult time.

To commemorate Neison Hardy’s life and contributions, a memorial service was held in Edmonton, Alberta. The service can be viewed here.

The music community mourns the loss of Neison Hardy, whose impact on the Canadian reggae scene and beyond will be felt for generations to come.

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