By Taylor McQuaig
Illustration by Robin Richardson-Dupuis
Song Circle celebrates past, present and future of women’s voices in music through the Junos.
Canadian Women’s Songbook: Women in the JUNOs, a Song Circle and Artist Talk with Lynn Miles is Muse Collective’s first event. It aims to highlight the legacy of Canadian female musicians through the lens of the JUNOs.
Organizers Chrissy Steinbock and Sarah Howard hope to connect the past and present of Canadian female music to the future.
Ottawa-based musicians will be performing songs from JUNO heavy hitters like Alanis Morissette and Kathleen Edwards. The music will be followed by an artist talk with Canadian folk powerhouse Lynn Miles.
Muse Collective are a new Ottawa-based community group, dedicated to creating “safe(r) spaces” for women in the Ottawa music scene.
Steinbock said many things led to her realization that there is room for improvement in the music industry. She said one of them happened while watching the JUNOs, and seeing Feist win Artist of the Year, and having Russel Peters comment on her body almost immediately after her win.
“Some people will hold judgements of your appearance over and above your achievements even when you’ve just won Artist of the Year,” she said.
For the event, each Ottawa-based female act will choose a song by a JUNO award-winner or nominee, and put their own spin on it.
The Canadian pop-goddess Alanis Morrissette’s “You Oughtta Know” has been claimed by Ottawa’ dreamy-pop Scary Bear Soundtrack. Gloria Guns of Scary Bear said Morissette was one of the first female rock musicians she heard, and felt as though Morisette’s anger spoke to her, and a whole generation of young women. Guns said the band wanted to get involved in Song Circle because the band’s priority has been to promote the inclusion of women and people of colour in Ottawa’s indie music communities.
“We’d love to see more participation of musicians from marginalized backgrounds across a cross-selection of music genres, so events like the Canadian Women’s Songbook appealed to us,” said Guns.
Singer-songwriter Julie Corrigan will be performing Kathleen Edwards’ “Six O’Clock News” from her first JUNO nominated record, “Failer”. Corrigan said she thought singing the song that began Edwards’ career would be appropriate.
King Kimbit, hip hop artist will be covering an Elaine “Lil’ Bit” Sheperd song “Likkle But Mi Tallawah”, a song which she won the JUNO for Reggae Recording of the Year.
Kimbit said she became involved in the event because she feels it is necessary for women of colour to be represented. Kimbit said she understands why some people of colour may not be comfortable putting themselves in a situation where they are representation, but she said,“Ii’s important to me, as a woman of colour, to be present . . . I can’t complain about lack of representation and not go out and represent.”
Artists such as Malak, Lucila Al Mar, and Crystalena Paquette will also be performing in the song circle.
Steinbock said she and Howard created Muse Collective because they wanted to help create opportunities for mentorship to allow emerging artists the chance to hear from other women in music, and pass on lessons. This is why they wanted to incorporate an artist talk into the event.
Miles was a clear choice for Muse because of her honesty and charm on stage, said Steinboch,
“We thought she’d be an engaging artist to ask about being a woman in music, the legacy of the JUNOs [and] things young musicians [need] to know.” Miles is also actively involved in mentoring up and coming musicians through her position teaching music at Carleton University.
Steinboch says she believes a large part of creating safe space to women can be drawn from the simple act of increasing women’s presence.
“More women in the [music] scene, makes it a safer space,” she said. “Just as more bikes on the road makes the space safer for cyclists.” •