Busy gal Janice Lee, is a musician and poet, who has many other identities as a spoken word artist, the artistic director of KW Poetry Slam (KWPS), a community activist and a local arts promoter.
You may have seen Janice on local stages (or stages across the country), competing in poetry slam battles, introducing and encouraging others to share their poems with a crowd or performing with her band, The Free Radicals.
Her biggest performance happened last month, when she recorded and released her first album, Drown the Earth. “It took a long time to get the right people and the funding together, but it was well worth the wait,” she said. “I wanted to create the best record I could.” And she’s extremely proud of the work, which was recorded at Kitchener’s Sound Distillery Recording Studio. She also just released her first video from the album, I Lost My Darlin’, where Cafe Pyrus and Victoria Park make big cameos.
“As a folk artist, I want to share stories that capture and convey the struggles that are happening today: injustice stemming from capitalism, colonialism and oppression,” said Janice. “We first need to talk about these things to inspire action, so we can build stronger, healthier communities, based in love.”
Her social justice philosophy merges into her other pursuits, as the concept of a poetry slam is to create a less elitist reception to poetry, where anyone can share their work without harsh judgement. With her work at the KWPS, Janice is helping create a local community around spoken word, poetry and storytelling. “We encourage new artists to share, be supportive of each other and foster a larger appreciation for poetry,” says Janice. “To see a serious revival of the oral storytelling tradition, especially in younger generations, is very hopeful.”
Life in Waterloo Region has been good for Janice. She has been awarded for her artistry, winning the 2013 Cord Community Arts Mover and Shaker Award and the 2012 Arts Awards Waterloo Region Leading Edge Award. “There are a lot of KW artists who act as mentors and organizers, because when art flourishes, we can engage more people across disciplines,” she says. “This has inspired me to help out in the arts community, especially supporting artists who are just starting out.”
You can see Janice in action at the next KW Poetry Slam on February 1, or on February 9, attend her workshop as part of Flirting with Arts or be part of the big fun at the Jazz Room later that evening. But where you will find her at her best is while she is singing. Check her website for upcoming appearances.
P.S. Janice’s favourite topic of conversation: Helping people understand that to have multiculturalism, you need to talk about, understand and promote anti-racism.
One thought on “Musician and poet provocateur: Janice Lee”
Pingback: Profiled on Red Leather Booth as “Poet Provocateur”! - Janice Lee