The New Genre of Talent in Mississauga!

"This isn't an open mic, it's a movement."
From hip hop artists to harp players, there seems to be no limitations. At least, that is what the Mississauga Arts Council believes of its residents. As such, MAC has created the Limelight Association of Young Artists in order to help Mississauga and Canadian residents (alike) to see what they can do.

Friday night at the legendary Masonic Lodge in Streetsville, almost 100 people, most of whom where musicians, joined in a not-so-typical open mic night.

"This isn't an open mic, it's a movement," said MC Dan Parker, a musician and political activist.

Parker, who was born and raised in Meadowvale, but now lives in Montreal and works with the Occupy Montreal movement, was asked by MAC youth program coordinator, Heather Brissenden, to host the event. He was the perfect candidate for the job, as he understands the importance of the arts in bettering the world and bringing people together. In addition, he's an amazing performer.

"What is nice, and I didn't realize, is that this is an intergenerational event... So it's not exclusive for youth," said Parker. By not limiting who and what can be performed at these open mics, Park and MAC believe that connections can be made and talent can flourish without boundaries.

In fact, that was the theme of the night, bringing communities together and helping those in need. As such, Limelight is attempting to raise money for their Africa initiative. They hope to send Teddy Aksel, their intern, on a trip to Africa to volunteer at an orphanage. There, Aksel will buy locally produced instruments and tools needed to teach kids about the arts; specifically, poetry and spoken word. This seems to be Aksel's specialty and one that he showcased for guests at the event on Friday. Upon his return, MAC hopes that the videos Aksel brings back of his work and the artists in that community will inspire and connect those in Mississauga.

This seems like a worthy cause indeed. So much so that Torontonian, Roger Zuraw, just had to come and support. He does believe in what MAC is trying to do. As such, he has been part of the MAC organization for over a decade. Guests of the event where lucky enough to hear Zuraw perform one of his original pieces, The City I'm From, which is a folk-style song about the diversity of Toronto.

It was a fitting song as that is what was seen from the other performers of the night. Performances included a rap/beat-box/hip-hop group called Definition Music. They use everything from spoken word to feet stomping to help bring their music to life.

Another unique group came in the form of three very talented rap artists who spit their own lyrics and beats. The group consists of DREN (which is nerd backwards) who is the spokesperson for the group, Austin, aka AM Morning Man, who is the Justin Timberlake of the group, and of course, ArtMC, the music man. Though all three have their own individual songs, they truly seem to come to life when on stage together.

One of the most talked about performances of the night came from Sam Nielsen, who was a first time performer. She played the song Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People on her harp. Yes, that does say a harp.

"My dad will say to this day it's out of spite that I chose the biggest most expensive instrument pretty much of all time," said Nielsen, whose parents were both music teachers. Whatever the reason for her starting to play, she seems to have mastered the giant instrument, and to boot, she's an amazing singer.

Other talent included personal favorites Kyle Fraser, Arlene Paculan and Identity Crisis. All three are no amateurs when it comes to open mics, and if you have ever been to a mic night in Mississauga, then you've probably been lucky enough to have seen one or all of them perform. If you haven't, then you don't know what you're missing.

For instance, Fraser's finger style guitar playing is one that even the best guitarist has trouble mastering. He uses his acoustic to create electronica-style beats with his hands, which give the illusion of drums playing along with him.

As for Pacula, she brings a softness to Eminem's Lose Yourself that would make any hater a fan. She reminds me of Drake, who has the ability to rap and sing at the same time.

It's clear from the talent that Mississauga is a hotbed for musicians and artists.

"This is my first time, but it won't be my last," said Shannon Butcher of The Family Butcher band. She was there with her cousin, Adam, to perform a cover of one of their favorite bands, Nirvana. Butcher was so impressed by the variety of performers and how talented they were that she can't wait for the next event, and nor should you.

Though no open mic is scheduled for the next few months, there is a talent show coming up on Wednesday May 2nd called Rebel with a Cause as well as an event at Naughty Nadz this upcoming Tuesday, March 27th for >Mississauga Poetry Slam that will feature many of the artists seen at the MAC event. Be sure to check them and many others out!

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