The Black Muses exhibit celebrates inspiring women of colour
Place des Arts is introducing 12 inspiring women for this year’s “Rise and Shine” edition of Black History Month. The Black Muses exhibit highlights the lives of some of the biggest influences on Canadian music history.
“I wanted to have a large range of women which would represent diversity and give an optimistic vision of Canadian music,” said Ralph Boncy, the curator of the event.
Each spot has a pair of headphones to lead you on a journey into the muses’ universe. As a music journalist, Boncy aimed to re-establish the importance of music within black history. “Music is like sports. Those are two channels by which no one could prevent black people from making progress,” said Boncy. “These women are heroines more than they are singers.”
A colourful portrait of the great Nina Simone arises from the room’s immaculate background.This is the work of Jessica Valoise, one of the six women artists who present their paintings as part of the exhibit. Carla Beauvais, coordinator of the event, made the visual-art selection. “We wanted to pay tribute to women, especially those who are not quite known by the public yet,” said Beauvais. Among the artists are also Géraldine Entiope, Keithy Antoine, Leona Carty, Joanna Joachim and Shanna Strauss.
Here are slices of the lives of the 12 muses who hold these places of honour:
Jackie Richardson: An actress and choir singer, Richardson went on tour with Ray Charles and Céline Dion. She is now known as a Canadian legend.
Portia White: As an opera singer, White was the first black Canadian concert singer to attain international acclaim. She taught music to the underprivileged of the Africville ghetto in 1930.
Ranee Lee: A television host, actor and educator, Lee is also one of the most popular Canadian jazz vocalists.
Régine Chassagne: A member of the band Arcade Fire, Chassagne is the co-founder of the KANPE foundation which assists less fortunate families in Haiti’s rural areas.
Marie-Josée Lord: A mezzo-soprano born in Haiti, Lord showed her skills as an opera singer by playing in Giacomo Puccini’s Turantot in 2003 at the Opéra de Québec and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s Starmania in 2004.
Molly Johnson: A jazz singer nominated for best vocal jazz album with Because of Billie, Johnson sang for Nelson Mandela and at the International Jazz Festival of Montreal in 2012.
Stéphane Moraille: A dancer and chorister known for her song “Drinking in L.A.,” Moraille worked to improve the law on copyright for creators after earning a master’s in law.
Kat Dyson: A guitarist and member of the band Tchukon, Dyson won a prize for the best musical band at the Rock Wars contest organized by the CBC in 1985. She then played for Prince and Cindy Lauper.
J-Kill – Jenny Salgado: A member of the group Muzion, Salgado is the leader of the Montreal hip-hop movement in the ‘90s.
Jeri Brown: Chosen as one of the 50 best jazz singers by Jazz Magazine, Brown received the Dr. Martin Luther King achievement price in 2004 for her social actions. She was an associate professor at Concordia for 30 years.
Lorraine Klaasen: The daughter of South African singer Thandi Klaasen, a personal favourite of Nelson Mandela, Klaasen starred in musicals and won the Juno Prize in 2013.
Measha Brueggergosman: A soprano singer and ambassador of organizations on arts education, Brueggergosman sang at the opening of the Vancouver Olympic Games of 2016.
The Black Muses exhibit will be held from Feb. 5 to Feb. 28 at the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme in Place des Arts. Entrance is free.