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Lido Pimienta is lit 

The fiercely independent artist, who built herself from the ground up straight into the Polaris Prize, wants to include and inspire everyone: “When I’m on stage, I will give you everything I can possibly give you.”

click to enlarge WALEED KHURSHID
  • Waleed Khurshid

Lido Pimienta w/Charlotte Day Wilson, Ralph, Vogue Dots Thursday, October 19, 9:15pm
The Marquee, 2037 Gottingen Street
$25

Navigate the Industry or Die Trying
Friday, October 20, 3:30pm
Paul O'Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library,
5440 Spring Garden Road
free

If you've heard Lido Pimienta's name recently, chances are it's been in one of a handful of conversations: You might have heard that the Afro-Colombian musician and artist took home the 2017 Polaris Prize for her stunning album La Papessa, a win that has brought her electric art-pop from the underground to relative infamy in the Canadian cultural consciousness. You might have heard that her excellent performance at the Polaris gala was struck with technical difficulty, something Pimienta acknowledged in her candid acceptance speech; maybe you've also heard Pimienta's later calls for a reconsideration of how we discuss women's striving for greatness, deconstructing the patriarchal pretense that her frustrations that night were misguided or invalid.

Pimienta's work has this effect: No matter the size of the platform, her work has an ability to start conversations about music and justice like few others. She's an endlessly creative artist and a tireless activist, interested equally in moving bodies as she is in challenging inequities. And she's one of the very best live performers out there, bringing her radical beacon of a show and soaring voice to the Marquee on Thursday.

Pimienta says she's grateful for the new spotlight that Polaris has given her, but is careful to give the award—or critical recognition otherwise—too much credit in her story. Art is Pimienta's platform, and it's a platform that she's built herself, from the ground up.

"My shows are lit, my shows are amazing, my shows are uplifting, inspiring, life-changing," she says. "It's still the same energy. I've been here, I've been doing it. Everything that I've accomplished I've accomplished because I am extremely hard-working and resilient...This award means that I just have to keep working harder."

Her performances invite community—it's not uncommon to find her with collaborators or audience members on stage—but also challenge how that community is built, who can be a part of it and who may be left out in the process. She acknowledges that bodies like hers—femme, racialized, Indigenous—may be less safe in some musical environments, and asks her audience to reorganize themselves to build safety for those often marginalized in high-energy, physical environments.

"I like the experience of music to be one that is inclusive, and it's important for me to know that I create a safe space for everyone," she says. "When I'm on stage, I will give you everything I can possibly give you. That means talking about domestic abuse that has happened in my life, that means talking about immigration issues that have happened, because it helps people understand my point of view—a point of view that is shared by many other people like me."

It's hard to imagine Pimienta slowing down anytime soon. She's still touring La Papessa and has started to piece together tracks for her next album Miss Colombia, partially recorded during a residency at the Khyber this past winter. No matter where she goes next, Pimienta says she'll hold onto her generosity and her hope for a better world.

"I need to share," she says. "I don't know if I'm going to be performing in my 40s or my 50s...but I'll be doing something. My place in the world is to share knowledge."


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