A Toronto musician’s journey out of homelessness

WATCH ABOVE: Oddane Taylor is a musician with a captivating story about living on on the margins and overcoming obstacles. Minna Rhee reports.

TORONTO — A Toronto man has turned a young life of struggle into music with a message.

Oddane Taylor said music helped him cope when he didn’t have a home, and no clear way out of poverty.

“I just used to listen to music — blast music,” said Taylor. “Numb the pain that way. I think my music saved me.”

He was on the path of gangs and dealing drugs. That’s until Youth Without Shelter, in Rexdale, put a roof over his head for three years.

He said the shelter was one of the most stable homes he’d ever had. Things starting looking up.

“I’ve come a long way,” said Taylor. “To being able to get my own place, pay my own rent.”

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At the shelter he received mentorship, and encouragement.

“Those words of encouragement, giving me suggestions on what steps to take, really helped. And now it’s starting to make a lot of sense,” said Taylor.

He found employment, went back to school, and worked with the Children’s Aid Society. He got involved with Sketch, a community arts initiative. He started making music, and has been getting attention for his work.

“It’s kinda like you’re painting with words that become phrases, with meaning and metaphors,” said Taylor.

His music tells his story of life on the edge, and turning it around. A full album of his work is set for release in January.

“People will try to knock you down and tell you you can’t do something, but at the end of the day, it’s not up to them. It’s up to you if you really want to do it, you know?”

With files from Minna Rhee

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