With the slew of talented musicians who play at Vancouver Folk Festival, it can be both overwhelming and difficult when it comes to trying to figure out who to see and how to divide your time.
This year, there are a number of women on the bill who shine brightly not only for their talent, but also for their contributions to music, culture and human rights. Each with styles as diverse as their life stories, these performers will surely be worth saving a spot on the grass for.
Here are five women to check out at this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival, taking place at Jericho Beach Park from July 17 to 19.
1. Angélique Kidjo
- Sunday at 12:40 p.m. – Stage 2
- Sunday at 9:25 p.m. – Main Stage
The music of singer, songwriter, and dancer Angélique Kidjo crosses boundaries, genres, and ethnicities with eclectic influences ranging from Caribbean zouk and Congolese rumba to jazz and gospel. Along with a celebrated career that spans over 30 years and that has claimed multiple accolades including two Grammys, an honourary degree of Doctor of Music by Yale, and the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award, the Benin-born, New-York based artist is known for her activism: she is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was the first woman to be listed among “The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa” by Forbes Magazine.
- Saturday at 12:30 to 2 p.m. – Stage 2
- Saturday at 3:40 to 5 p.m. – Stage 2
- Sunday at 10 to 11 a.m. – Stage 6
- Sunday at 3:50 p.m. – Stage 1
Alternative folk artist Diyet was born in a tent, raised in a two-room cabin, classically trained in opera, and holds a degree in music. Much like her life story, the Yukon-native’s music is inspiring and adventurous, and her intimate performance style is lauded for the ability to take the audience on an uplifting and emotional journey. Diyet’s debut, The Breaking Point, received nominations for Best New Artist and Songwriter of the Year at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards in both 2010 and 2011, and Album of the Year at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
3. I’m With Her
When: Saturday at 6:10 p.m.
Where: Main Stage
I’m With Her is comprised of three young and incredibly talented folk music powerhouses. They are: singer, songwriter, and fiddler, ukulele player, and percussionist Sara Watkins, who was a founding member of progressive blues group, Nickel Creek; Sarah Jarosz, who, at just 24, is a three-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist (playing octave mandolin, banjo, and guitar); and Aoife O’Donovan, a graduate of the New England Conservatory, also known as the lead singer of string group Crooked Still and whose versatility has led to many notable collaborations, including one with Allison Krauss. The super-group came together after an on-the-fly performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and began touring together earlier this year.
4. Lindi Ortega
- Friday at 3:45 – 5 p.m. – Stage 2
- Saturday at 11:20 a.m. – Stage 5
- Saturday at 3:45 – 5 p.m. – Stage 4
Lindi Ortega has made a lot of noise with her modern take on classic country. After spending nearly a decade knocking the boots off of Toronto’s independent scene, she re-located to Nashville and has never looked back since, paving her way on her own terms. The charming and soulful style of Ortega has garnered comparisons to legends like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, as well as granted her a Juno Award for Roots Artist of the Year in 2014, multiple Canadian Country Music Association nominations, and two nominations for the Polaris Prize — the prestigious award that celebrates creativity and diversity in Canadian music.
5. Mary Gauthier
- Friday at 3:45 to 5 p.m. – Stage 2
- Saturday at 12:30 to 2 p.m. – Stage 2
- Saturday at 4:20 to 5:20 p.m. – Stage 5
- Sunday at 3 to 3:50 p.m. – Stage 5
It has been said that true songwriters place a piece of themselves into each song: that statement couldn’t ring truer for Mary Gauthier. One doesn’t need to be aware of the narrative of the singer, songwriter’s own story (orphan, addict, and chef turned sober troubadour) to have their soul moved by the Louisiana native’s music — the rawness of her songs speak for themselves. Over the course of a 25-year spanning career, Gauthier has released 10 albums, received multiple awards and nominations, and has been an important figure in Americana music’s LGBT community. Most recently, she was nominated in 2015 for the GLAAD Outstanding Music Artist of the Year.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival runs from July 17 to 19. Full program and tickets at thefestival.bc.ca.
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