Photo by Lucas Erasmus.
Story by Jamie Campbell
2018 was officially dubbed “Year of the Woman,” but it looks like the powerful female force is moving into 2019 as steady as ever. When it comes to music, Cardi B just made history when she was crowned first solo female to win best rap album at the 2019 Grammys.
Continuing on the theme of music and celebrating Women’s Day, 10 at 10 – an event and media platform dedicated to showcasing artists, cultivating culture and promoting Calgary’s hip hop community to the world – is hosting their fifth annual Ladies First Showcase on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Commonwealth.
Headlining the night will be special guests The Sorority, who are fresh off tour and landed themselves a spot on XXL Magazine’s 2019 artists to watch list.
“The purpose of the showcase is to celebrate and elevate women in arts and hip hop culture by bridging the gap between Calgary and Toronto with a Toronto-based headliner, The Sorority, and local artists to watch,” says 10 at 10 Executive Director, Beni Johnson. “It’s important for us to support female artists in a male-dominated industry.”
If you haven’t made it down to a showcase, it does just that: creates a platform for artists to flex their talent to a room full of eager listeners ready to take in any creativity of those blazing their own trail.
One of the performers taking to the stage is singer-songwriter and rapper, Sinzere, who could easily go toe to toe with any of her male counterparts. Known for her witty bars, catchy flows, and high-energy performances, you’ll see why she’s considered a triple threat.
“I get to represent ladies in hip hop and ladies in rap,” says Sinzere. And, being from Calgary, that’s something that’s incredibly important to her. “This event offers a stage for females to come together and unify.”
Part of the showcase will include a discussion panel titled “She came, She saw, She Conquered,” which will open up a conversation about what it is to be a woman growing through challenges in their respective industries.
For Sinzere, she overcomes the struggle simply by “being better than the guys,” she laughs. This answer doesn’t come from a place of vanity; for Sinzere, she’s put in the work to stand out – and she’s confident about that.
“Being a female rapper, there’s so much stigma around it. You have to be a certain way; you have to dress a certain way. I put the talent first. I made sure I’m a true lyricist at heart.”
Another essential player in the showcase, is the lady spinning the tracks, of course. Sonja Elarco a.k.a DJ SONIDEF is no stranger to the 10 at 10 showcases, or the Calgary music scene. Ever since she realized DJing was a viable career option after seeing what females were doing on the decks, there’s not many events her name isn’t on.
“The Ladies First showcase gives us a chance to see ourselves DJing and rapping – roles that are mainly dominated by men. It’s refreshing to see an all-female lineup,” says SONIDEF.
Like Sinzere, and many other female artists, she’s struggled with being overlooked, but chose to use it as a growth opportunity.
“It’s a double edged sword; being a woman has also opened a lot of the right doors for me, and been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of my career. Many of the gigs I do play are femme-positive events such Ladies First, which are looking specifically to showcase women in a positive light. Being a part of events like this which empower and celebrate women and provide them with representation, has given me a stronger sense of purpose and more drive as a DJ.”
Summing it up perfectly, SONIDEF is looking forward to some major shifts in the status quo, and seeing talented, skilled women get the visibility and opportunities they deserve
Tickets for the showcase are available at 10at10.ca for $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The discussion panels kicks off at 8:00 p.m. followed by performances. Make sure to follow 10 at 10 on Instagram and Facebook for event information.