On February 14, Jazzeast presents Shauntay Grant’s Wordrhythm as part of African Heritage Month at the Spring Garden Road Library in Halifax. Arts East recently spoke to the multi-talented, award-winning author, musician, spoken word artist, CBC Broadcaster and community mentor about her Valentines Day performance.
AE: How did you come up with the idea for Wordrhythm?
SG: Wordrhythm grew out of a desire to amalgamate two of my primary creative interests -- poetry and music. As an artist, I don't really differentiate between my artistic practices -- my songs are my poems, and vice versa. So Wordrhythm was really about creating a space to explore the connections between poetry and music.
AE: For someone who has never seen a Wordrhythm performance, how would you describe it?
SG: Every performance is different. The last Wordrhythm show was at the Halifax Jazz Festival with a three-piece band and vocal ensemble. Before that there was a show involving dub poetry and beatbox. The upcoming event at the Spring Garden Road library is more of a performance/workshop involving some local singers and spoken word artists. But what is exciting for me with this particular event is that the poets will also be singing, and the singers have written some original poetry as well. So it's really been a space for the artists to explore their talents and try new things.
AE: How is the Feb. 14th performance going to be different from past performances?
SG: It's an intimate performance/workshop-type setting with no real amplification for the voices. So, no mics or speakers - just live and unplugged. The evening features a talented line-up of singers and spoken word artists including Chelsea Nisbett, Tesia Rolle, Suzy Hansen, Dominique Oliver-Dares, and Nicole Brown. And this is the first time we've all worked together as an ensemble.
AE: How is the combination of words/poetry and music a powerful force in your own life?
SG: Words and music has always been central to my life. I grew up with so many songs and stories in my family, my community, my home. And I appreciate every opportunity I've had to continue with this and collaborate with so many talented artists.
Photo: Raul Rincon