Jully Black . . . Our Canadian Change Maven

On this Valentine’s/Family Day weekend I had the pleasure of spending some quality time in Toronto with my beautiful Mama.

We arrived in the city just after 11, found the perfect parking spot and took a chilly walk over to Milestones where we sat high in the air overlooking Dundas Square.  We made a decision that ordering a glass of wine with our early lunch was a great way to start our day.  Our crisp and refreshing glasses of Inniskillin Sauvignon Blanc arrived at the table along with some delicious Calamari to share.  We talked about Yonge Street and all of the changes my Mom had seen since the 50’s when she and my Dad would come down to buy their “99 cent Saturday 9am special” records at Sam’s.  I love when my Mom shares these stories, I feel transported back to those days with her, even though this was way before my time.

This feeling of being transported back to another time continued as our next stop was the Winter Garden Theatre to see Jully Black’s performance in “Caroline, or Change”

I was excited to see this Canadian beauty on stage.  Wayne and I both met Miss Jully Black back in 2005 when we were back stage at the Much Music Video Awards Gift Lounge.  We met so many celebrities that day, Carmen Electra, Ciara, Vivica A. Fox, Piper Perabo, Jamie King, Keshia Chante and The Black Eyed Peas, just to name a few.  I still remember when Jully entered the room.  She was tall, had a gorgeous smile – her beautiful energy lit up the room.  When she approached my display I was thrilled.  She was interested in my business, congratulated me for being there and then graciously posed for a picture in a necklace and cocktail ring!  As she was choosing her julz she enthusiastically claimed, “Yaay bling bling, I love amber but that silver one is hot.  I love to promote Canadian designers . . . I’ll wear that ring tonight!”  Jully was true to her word!  My glamjulz cocktail ring made it to the red carpet that night!

I have followed Jully’s career over the years.  She continues to dazzle and amaze me.  She is not only a talented singer and performer but she is passionate about using her powers for good!  She gives back in so many ways.  Everything from traveling to Bangladesh to report on work conditions in sweatshops to benefit concerts for children in Ethiopia and traveling to schools across Canada to talk about education and music programs in schools.  In 2015 she joined forces with her best friend Nkechi Nwafor-Robinson and co-founded Empowered in My Skin.  An organization that holds conferences to help women empower themselves and become more confident.

I can see how Jully would be the perfect partner for Nkechi.  She is passionate about people doing their best in life.  She also generously shares with the media stories about her own personal struggles and how she has been able to manifest change in her life.  One of my favourite stories is the one she shares about how she came to be the lead in “Caroline, or Change”.

One year before she was cast for the role, Jully was in Spain with Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman.  Jully went to Measha’s opera rehearsal.  While she was there she picked up Measha’s music book and sent a picture to her agent.  She texted along with the picture, “I see myself on stage”

Talk about manifesting your dreams.  One year later Jully would start one year long rehearsals for her lead role in “Caroline, or Change.”

My Mom and I were amazed by her performance.  Sitting in the third row of the Winter Garden Theatre was a blessing.  The emotion that Jully put into the performance was unforgettable.  I had seen an interview with Jully prior to the performance where she talks about how she could relate so well to her character as Caroline because her own mother was a domestic.  She came to Canada and wasn’t sure if she was ready to take that leap.  She did it and worked for $1.65 an hour. “I could tell this story” said Jully.  Jully also went on to say that she was not only channeling her Mom in this performance but all of the other domestics and the families that they worked for.

My personal experience watching the show was incredibly cathartic.  There’s a story my Mom tells about a time in the early 60’s when she traveled to the United States with my Dad’s sister and another friend.  The three girls got a ride with a male school teacher.  They had to take a restroom break in Georgia and stopped at a local restaurant.  Across the swinging screen door was a sign that read, “Whites Only”.  My Mom and my aunt assumed there was a laundromat attached to the restaurant.  When they learned otherwise they were disgusted.

Tears were streaming down my face for the majority of the performance.  The combination of knowing Jully’s personal story along with the gratitude I felt about the way my parents raised us to be kind to all humans.

The message in this story about change was very powerful.  It’s heartbreaking to me how we can make our own lives a prison.  We get stuck and we can’t see a way out of whatever is holding us back.  Change does get harder as we get older, sometimes the fear of something new is scarier than just continuing to play small and stay stuck.  Be patient with yourself, you will find your own way to embrace change.

You can start by surrounding yourself with people who raise you up.  Follow powerful women like Jully.  If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel let someone else lead you to it!  We are all just beautiful, vulnerable complicated humans doing the very best we can.

Monica XO

If you are looking for a way to make a positive change in the world, we can help.  Click HERE to learn about our “Caring & Sharing” program. (Scroll down the page to watched our video of success stories).  Email designgirl@glamjulz for information on how to start fundraising with glamjulz today.


Ashley Freeman

What a wonderful blog.I have always been a huge fan of Jully Black, but even more so now! Would love to see Caroline or change. Thanks Monica for the Interesting read!

Laura Cole

Beautiful post about the bold and beautiful Jully Black. She’s such an incredible talent in everything she does. A true light medium with something to teach the world. I’m definitely going to make my efforts to see Caroline or Change based on this post! And how cool is it that she wore your creations on the red carpet! Very cool.
Thanks for the read!

Monica Graves

Laura! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! You are an inspiration to me too! Keep on rockin’ xoxo


Wow!! This show sounds amazing! My parents were going to see it today and I cannot wait to hear their reviews. What a beautiful blog and so many things learned along the way

Monica Graves

Thanks Charlotte! Isn’t great when we learn things along the way? So much to think about. XO

Katie Bradley

Love your writing and positivity Mon! Have been a fan of Jully since I was a teenager, she is so awesome

Katie Gerroir

We so enjoyed this wonderful performance and venue. The performers and venue are true Canadian treasures which we hope to enjoy again. The story is a familiar tale of the struggle of raising a family while being employed as a domestic caregiver. I remember my mother telling me of her experiences as a young domestic caregiver in war time London, England in 1939. She had to send money home to her family. In London there was discrimination and work was scarce especially if you were from Ireland.
She was lucky in her employment and always kept the cut glass chalice her employer had given her when she was leaving to work in the munitions factories as part ofthewar timeeffort.Although her employer had been of a
different faith and my mother from a different background this never altered their relationship. I know my mom would have appreciated the essence of the struggles and triumphs that Caroline or Change so movingly portrayed. Thanks for letting everyone know that Jully Black,Measha Brueggergosman and the incredible cast are real
“ julz”.

Monica Graves

Katie! Wow, what a beautiful story about your dear Mom. I am so happy that you guys saw the performance. Can’t wait to discuss it when we see each other again. Thank you so much for this heart felt comment XO

George Eng

Hi Monica
Such an amazing blog and when you mentioned Sam the Record man on a Saturday…it brought back very fond memories cuz I was waiting in the line too to pick up the latest 45.
And Jully Black has come a long way when I first heard her sing at Dundas Square and wondered who she was living in the north west end of the city..
But you too Monica have come a long way taking the risk to change your career and having that dream & goal to make all those beautiful jewelry and to be so successful today and way into the future.
Today being Family Day, it’s a day to spend & think of friends & family, and so I’m throwing out a big …Hello ..to a true friend!!

Monica Graves

George!! You are making me tear up! This is so lovely, thank YOU my friend for taking the time to write such beautiful words XO

jacquie court

I remember how much Jully Black caught your eye at the MMVAs. You really admired her style – both inside and out. This is a great post and a great reminder that ‘thoughts become things’ and we have to be careful to surround ourselves with the energy and people who support what we want to become. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope Jully Black gets to meet you one day! xo

Monica Graves

Jacqueline! Thank you so much! I do believe 2005 and the MMVA’s was the time our friendship began. So lucky to have you in my life! Thank you for always lifting me up and believing in my dreams XOXO


Such a great read! Love this post so much! Enjoyed the stories you shared! I saw Jully Black a few years back, when she performed at the Sound of Music! Love Jully Black as an artist but knew little of her background. A bigger fan of her and you my dear friend! So want to go “Caroline or Change”! This also resonates with me so much..as I entered a new stage in my life, and facing changes… still learning. I also hope that you get to meet Jully Black again!

Monica Graves

Mel! That’s so cool that you saw Jully perform. Let’s go together next time! Xoxo

Bill Majoros

Your writing, creativity and philosophies are always truly inspiring!
I really relate to the way you look at life. ✌️

I love the story about the record store specials at “Sam the Record Man” magical moments frozen in time!
Memories shared with your Mom are beautiful priceless treasures.

Jully Black sounds like an incredibly wonderful woman who’s “manifested her dreams” and transcended incredibly difficult circumstances!
Heartfelt thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts. ✨✨


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