Success Story: Tessa Gooden


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Tessa Gooden has been performing all her life – as a cellist in the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, a musical theatre performer on Broadway and as part of a rock band. After moving to Toronto in 2013, she decided to continue stretching herself creatively through various forms and genres, taking on the challenge of creating her first major music recording project – the original 3-song EP Quake.

Adding to the ambition of the project was Gooden’s determination to address the issue of the lack of LGBT representation in the R&B/Hip Hop community.

“[I] wanted to be able to join these two communities through my project,” she said, aiming to create an album that could lead to some radio play and touring, giving the representation some real impact. In order to do that in such a hyper-competitive industry, she applied for a 2016 General Rainbow Grant, obtaining the funding needed to give the album exceptional recording quality and a real shot at commercial success.

“This was the first time I was going to try writing and recording original material,” said Gooden. “Receiving a Rainbow Grant allowed me to create a great quality sound recording and collaborate with amazing producers I would not have otherwise been able to afford.”

And the industry responded – following the release of Quake, Gooden was offered a distribution deal with Universal Music Group. “This has led me to many further amazing opportunities touring across Canada, the USA and Europe, radio play, and making amazing connections and musical collaborations,” said Gooden. “This would have never happened if I did not have quality recordings thanks to the support of the Community One Foundation.”

With the success of the album and tour, Gooden has moved on to the next project, her first full-length album, featuring 7-10 original songs.

“I am extremely excited for this,” she said, noting a newfound confidence and independence with the process. “I am now a much better songwriter, collaborator, and also have learned so much about recording and music production.”

Gooden’s personal motto – “spread love through art” – encapsulates her achievement of better LGBT representation in the R&B/Hip Hop community, and the industry has reflected that love back to her with incredible experiences and opportunities.

“I have gained a wealth of knowledge and also have been able to network and collaborate with some amazing people, some who are Juno and Grammy winners and inspire me everyday.”


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