Tucked behind an empanada shop in Kensington Market last Sunday, a seven-hour-long art and music love-in unfurled just out of sight of the throngs of Pedestrian Sunday revellers.
To the people who created it, the Sheroes festival (for “She” plus “heroes,” since it celebrated female artists) would have been unimaginable in Toronto until very, very recently.
While the city’s music scene has long been ethnically diverse, cross-pollination between different musical traditions hasn’t, with different communities often sticking to their own. But the diverse and blissed-out turnout on Sunday proved—to the performers, at least—that “world” music artists are finally breaking out of their ethnic ghettoes.
“I guess the fact that we put labels on music separates us right there,” said 23-year-old Lido Pimienta, the day’s headlining performer. A Colombian-bred, Toronto-based artist, Pimienta has quickly become a big deal in the global Latin music underground since moving to Canada, making an international name vis-a-vis collaborations with ultra-hip Buenos Aires–based ZZK Records, and garnering shoutouts in National Public Radio’s widely syndicated Alt.Latino.
Pimienta’s DJ for the set was Sergio Elmir, a “50 per cent Colombian, 50 per cent Ecuadorian, 100 per cent Mississaugan.”
“I think things are changing a lot in the past two years,” he said, “at least from my perspective, DJing. I’ve been asked to play so many parties.” He cites the Sheroes series and June’s New Traditions: Island Music & Art Festival as examples of popular events that have featured performers from a spectrum of genres and cultural backgrounds while still appealing to the mainstream “indie kid” audience.
“People will get it. Toronto will get it…the exoticism is being taken out of the equation.”