by Tara Bursey
Here is the next in our series of artist profiles in advance of SACHA and the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre’s sing-a-long event on Saturday featuring Janice Jo Lee!
Janice Jo Lee is a singer-songwriter, poet, storyteller and community organizer from Kitchener. She sings, speaks and shares stories about love, struggle, and community. She is disarmingly hilarious, off-the-cuff and fearlessly honest. Lee’s new album Sing Hey is a vocal and acoustic showcase with songs themed on feminism, poverty and friendship.
Young women are rarely encouraged to pick up a guitar. How did you first start playing one? Who were the earliest women singers/songwriters to inspire you?
I’ve always been a singer, before I could talk I was singing. It’s difficult to get gigs as a solo vocalist, so out of necessity really I picked up the guitar. My friend taught me the basics and I taught myself from there, having had a background in piano and trumpet. The first women musicians who inspired me were Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, TLC. I definitely listened to Mariah’s Daydream album on repeat.
How does the music you make contribute to dialogue about work and labour, feminism or social justice?
As a folk artist, I consider it my responsibility to capture our contemporary stories as they happen. Feminism is relevant as ever. I think it’s important to have anthems for equity that give you a voice, that give you joy and power.