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Responsibility of the Storyteller Collective Writing with Janice

Why do you write? Why do you share? What is your purpose as an artist? Who is your community, your audience, and why do they matter to you? Why did your ancestors choose you as a storyteller? In this workshop we will examine and define our artistic practice within the context of our times and community. Artists will leave with a working draft of their artist statement, and a clearer vision of their artistic path.

Janice Jo Lee (she/her), aka Sing Hey, is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist. She is a spoken word poet, folk-soul singer-songwriter, playwright-actor, and educator from Kitchener, on Haldimand Tract treaty territory. Lee is a hard femme queer radical and is passionate about building flourishing communities based in justice and joy through art. She believes in the power of storytelling to build a bridge across difference and bring people together. Her latest compositions are Ancestor Songs, wailing and heart-wrenching melodies full of power and ferocity. She is working on her upcoming albums Ancestor Song, and Lonely is the Lullaby.

Currently Janice organizes with Groundings, a movement to raise up BIPOC poets under the mentorship of Lillian Allen. She is the founding artistic director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam and created its first Spoken Word Residency program for emerging professionals in 2018. She is a previous board member for Spoken Word Canada and chaired its Anti-Oppression Committee during its legal crisis of 2015. Janice is a professional arts educator who has facilitated workshops across the country. She strives to follow the trails blazed by artists d’bi young anitafrika, El Jones, Kai Cheng Thom, Andrea Thompson and Lillian Allen.

In 2016, Janice and filmmaker Becca Redden toured Canada and interviewed QTBIPOC spoken word poets and created the documusical “The Legend of Sing Hey.” which premiered at the Toronto Queer Film Festival in 2018. The film demonstrates how artist-activists are each doing the work in their respective cities to build resilient and thriving arts communities.

Janice has featured at Louder Than A Bomb Hamilton, Verses, the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Hillside, Artswells, Queeries, In the Soil, and YouthCanSlam. In Waterloo Region, she was voted Best Performance Artist three years running from 2016 to 2018. Janice was the City of Kitchener’s Artist in Residence in 2015 and her music has been played nationally on CBC radio. She is an artistic associate of the MT Space (Multicultural Theatre) in Kitchener and co-directs its Young Company with Ahmad Meree

Thank you to our funders, the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council for making Voices of Today possible.