Black, Buddhist, transgender artist
An interview by John Negru published in Lion's Roar, an online magazine March 31, 2018
Those of a certain age likely saw him perform for decades in a different incarnation on CBC’s Mr. Dressup. You’ve likely also heard the children’s music he wrote and performed on Sesame Street, Shining Time Station, and the Treehouse Network. If you’re an aficionado of Canadian jazz, you may also be familiar with his more recent work, which is infused with world beats and sonic mystery.
As a Black, Buddhist, transgender pioneer in his field, Copeland seems to have lived many lifetimes worth of achievements in his 74 years. Today, he quietly plies his trade in the relative obscurity of Sackville, New Brunswick.
I spoke with Copeland about his life’s journey and his forty-four years as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism with Soka Gakkai International (SGI). Here is some of the conversation that ensued.