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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Show review: Halifax Pop Explosion's Songs of The City is a love letter to all of us

The venerable music festival kicks off with a showcase highlighting the strength in vulnerability.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 3:56 PM

click to enlarge Kim Harris used her powerful voice to chronicle the journey of a Haligonian overcoming poverty as part of the United Way's HPX showcase. - MARY COLLIER PHOTO
  • Mary Collier photo
  • Kim Harris used her powerful voice to chronicle the journey of a Haligonian overcoming poverty as part of the United Way's HPX showcase.
Halifax Pop Explosion got off to a moving start on Wednesday night with Songs of the City, presented by  United Way Halifax at the Spatz Theatre. The show featured six storytellers and five artists. Each storyteller told their own personal story of struggle, transformation and resilience. Each artist debuted an original song that was inspired by the storyteller’s life and documents their journey to where they are now.    

The Olympic Symphonium warmed the crowd up its original song “Home” before acting as the house band for the remaining artists.

Catherine was the first storyteller and she sat on the only set piece on stage, a park bench with a street lamp beside it. She told her story of the difficulties of becoming pregnant with her son at the same time as losing her job and having to go on social assistance. Her story of perseverance was told through the emotionally charged voice of Kim Harris. Harris’ original song “Catherine” speaks about fighting through life’s struggles. 

The next storytellers were Mekisha and Kayvont, a mother/son duo. They told their story through a recorded video that was projected for the audience to see. They spoke about the importance that social programs had on their lives growing up. Wolf Castle rapped their story, with his track “Kayvont” bringing a visceral and honest feeling to what it means to truly fight for what you want in life.

The third storyteller was Anna, who describes herself as “a middle-aged, mixed race, mobility challenged woman living in Halifax.” Anna spoke of her battle with mental illness and how grateful she is to be receiving the treatment that she needs. Singer-songwriter Leanne Hoffman’s song “Armour” explores the places that the mind goes to when suffering with mental illness and how someone’s past is not their identity.

Katie was the next storyteller and she spoke about her difficult teenage years working in the sex industry to support her drug addiction.  After being in and out of rehab, Katie has now been clean for two years. Singer-rapper Hua Li’s song “Katie” dove deep into the heartache of Katie’s early adult years.   

The fifth and final storyteller was Dawn. She shared her story of running away from group homes and having altercations with the law when she was very young. Then, when was 17, she met a probation officer who actually listened to her and she was able to get the help she needed. Hip-hop artist Yohvn Blvck delivered a raw performance that spoke about the moments that changed Dawn’s life forever and the vision she has to help others have a better future.

After the last act, the stage was bare, with nothing but the street lamp and the park bench on stage right. With the warm glow of the light on the park bench, it  looked like a welcome place for anyone to come sit down, ponder about life and watch the world go by.

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Vol 27, No 28
December 5, 2019

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