Originally from Liberia in West Africa, Raynes told Ottawa Tourism in an interview that he’s lived in Ottawa for about 11 years.
In terms of the popular video, Raynes noted that his team at Audio Valley Recording Studio suggested getting the Ottawa community involved. “We went around asking a few people; the Ottawa paramedics, the Ottawa Police and a few others,” Raynes said. “They were all very happy to be a part of it.” He added that the idea of involving the local community came from the fact that Can’t Stop the Feeling is an interesting song with an upbeat, happy tone.
In the interview, Raynes said that his life changed drastically when he came to Ottawa. Raynes said that prior to his arrival in Ottawa, he hadn’t been attending school. “When I came here, my dad sent me to school to get an education,” he said. “And from there, he started teaching me to sing a little bit.”
Raynes noted that he started getting interested in music in Africa, as he used to attend choir practice with his grandmother. “From there, I got really interested in music and when I got here, my dad kind of really helped me push myself.”
For Raynes’ favourite part of the Ottawa-themed video, he noted that he was impressed by the Ottawa paramedics. “[They] were so energetic and they picked up some of the moves so quickly.” He noted however that filming with each different group was enjoyable. “Everyone had a big smile on their face,” he said.
In terms of what makes Ottawa unique, Raynes said that Ottawa is relatively quiet when compared to some other Canadian cities. “Ottawa is a very quiet place and everybody is so nice,” he said. “There’s not much drama going on here compared to other cities in Canada.”
Raynes noted that some of his favourite places in the city are the downtown Rideau area and the ByWard Market neighbourhood. “There’s lots of stuff going on down there and I love to see people singing in the street.” He added that if someone is visiting Ottawa, these are two areas they should explore. “I would recommend that they check out Parliament Hill and then go further down Rideau Street and into the [ByWard] Market because that’s where you can see a lot of live entertainment,” he said. Raynes added that in the ByWard Market area, there are also a lot of little bars and restaurants where people can have a drink, relax and enjoy the scenery.
Raynes also noted that if visitors enjoy shopping, CF Rideau Centre is another great place to spend some time. “It’s fantastic,” Raynes said. “I love the new designers and everything looks awesome there.” Ottawa’s downtown shopping mall – CF Rideau Centre – just recently completed a $360-million, 180,000-square-foot expansion that saw more than 21 new stores open as well as a brand new wing. Among the new stores are an H&M and Zara flagship store, Simons, Anthropologie and Massimo Dutti, to name a few.
For recent and upcoming projects, Raynes noted that he just released a cover of Cold Water by Justin Bieber. He added that he’ll soon release an acoustic version of that song as well as some other songs with local Ottawa artists. “I’m working on originals as well in the studio,” he said.
Raynes added that as he’s an up-and-coming recording artist, it’s nice to have a little bit of local community support. “I would like any support anyone in Ottawa can give me to allow me to push myself up because this is my home,” he said.