Though the music industry has been criticized again and again for its continued lack of diversity, Ottawa’s Grassroots Festival is putting gender parity at the forefront. For its run at the Southminster United Church from April 26 – 29, this year’s lineup is continuing its tradition of gender balancing.

by Owen Maxwell

“This is not so much a conscious effort as a recognition that there are many female artists out there and they are at least as good as male artists,” said Producer Bob Nesbitt.

The concept actually started from Nesbitt’s days organizing volunteers with the Ottawa Folk Festival, which now continues in the lineup, board and worker side of the Grassroots Festival.

“When I had a crew of 40, they bonded and worked together better when there was gender balance,” said Nesbitt.



Part of this year’s lineup includes Lynn Miles along with a showcase of her students, Sneezy Waters and His Very Fine Band, Leela Gilday and Jean-Marc Lalonde. Other improvements underway this year are better food for volunteers, more local artists, more Indigenous artists, and additional French translation on their website.

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