Ottawa’s new FemmeVox series, presented by the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC), kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2:30pm. We spoke with the GCTC’s managing director as well as Malak, one of the event’s performers, to learn more about the new music series.
“This will be the very first incarnation of the performance. We’re going to have another one in June,” says Hugh Neilson, who has been managing director of the GCTC since 2014. “It started as a conversation about how we can provide further opportunities for women in the music industry, and then we had the idea of creating a format where we pair up emerging artists with mid-career artists to have some sort of mentorship or peer discussion.”
“It started as a conversation about how we can provide further opportunities for women in the music industry.”
The first component of the event is a workshop, led by the headliner Lynne Hanson, and all the performers. For whomever wants to sign up, you can register here for $15 or buy tickets to the 4:30pm show for $10 online and $15 at the door. The workshop is for singer-songwriters, which includes a performance component.
Neilson’s hope is that there will be a new song or two revealed from those peer meetings: “I would love to see lots of new singer-songwriter relationships, lots of new possible concerts and pairings of talented artists, many of whom will be women, and that this promotes a stronger voice for those individuals in our community.”
The mononymous Malak, or “Alec Baldwin with an M and no Baldwin” as her Instagram handle puts it, is one of the performers at Sunday’s FemmeVox series debut. She says her four years spent studying music at Carleton University have been the most fun years of her life thus far: “It never really occurred to me as a possibility in my life, so I’m really happy I got to do it. You know?”
“I lived in Cairo, Egypt, until I was 16, and then the revolution happened, and it wasn’t great for us there,” says Malak “I wanted to do music, but the social climate wasn’t really allowing that, so my mom, my brother and I moved here.”
After her mother’s failed attempt to mould her daughter into a piano prodigy, Malak began to sing regularly, which lead her mother to enroll her for vocal coaching. The years of practice and studying have definitely paid off because Malak’s sultry pop sound is bound to captivate event-goers this weekend.
“Feminism is a positive term, and people make it negative.”
Malak says she has grown to understand and appreciate feminism over the years: “Feminism is a positive term, and people make it negative. A lot of people who associate with that term are amazing and are doing things that we’ve needed forever.”
“The organization, myself, Eric Coates, artistic director, had talked about really wanting to bring back some form of music series, but one that met with what our current strategies and goals are for the organization,” says Neilson. “This year, we also have a young artist who is doing a sound internship at the theatre. Sound is a role, in theatre, that has traditionally been held by men, and so it was important for us to find a female.”
Malak’s sound will literally get the floor moving and figuratively shatter glass ceilings at the Great Canadian Theatre Company on Sunday afternoon.
FemmeVox is at Great Canadian Theatre Company (1233 Wellington St. W) on Sunday February 24, 2019. The songwriting workshop with Lynne Hanson, Malak, Sam Steel, and Tara Holloway begins at 2:30pm (registration $15) and their public performance is at 4:30pm (tickets $10 in advance; $15 at the door). Visit gctc.ca for more details.