MEET OUR ARTISTS A-Z

Puja Amin * NEW ARTIST

Puja Amin has toured the world as a dancer and choreographer, and has worked on a number of Bollywood films, theatre and TV productions. And since 2003, as a teacher and founder of Sanskriti Arts Ensemble, she has taught thousands of students from coast to coast, the United States and India, sharing her passion for Indian dance, music and culture.

Carol Ashton

Carol Ashton is a storyteller, Early Childhood Educator, and musician. On her own or together with Wendy Lulham as part of the Kitchen Party, she has delighted young children in schools and child care centres with their tunes, compositions and traditional stories.

Njacko Backo

Njacko Backo is a percussionist, singer, storyteller, choreographer, songwriter/composer who has been performing for children and adults since his childhood in Cameroon. He has a lifetime of practice in capturing the subtlety of dance and storytelling with his music – an essential part of the African performing arts. His programs for children and youth draw on parallels and differences between Canadian and African family life.

Mariella Bertelli * NEW ARTIST

Mariella Bertelli is a storyteller and children's librarian. She has been telling stories to people of all ages from babies to 99. Her rich repertoire includes folk and fairy tales, literary, personal and original stories. She tells in both English and Italian, sometimes blending the two in an intriguing narrative blend. Her love of the arts inspires her to create storytelling shows that include visuals, like kamishibai paper theatre or bankelsang (stories with banners).

Conrad Boyce * NEW ARTIST

Conrad Boyce is an actor and writer who has worked across Canada, from Vancouver Island to the Yukon to southern Ontario. For 35 years, he has specialized in interpreting the ballads (alternately hilarious and movingly dramatic) of Robert W. Service. Conrad has brought Service's verse stories to life in concert halls and classrooms around the world, from Arizona to Service's native Scotland, and for fans on the lawn of Service's own cabin in Dawson City.  He looks forward to introducing him to your students.

Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley

Diana Braithwaite is an award winning writer and vocalist who has researched and created historical plays, music, and films about Canadian and African-American history. A fourth generation Canadian whose descendants came to Canada through the Underground Railroad, Diana uses song and the spoken word to take audiences on the journey her ancestors made from the Southern United States to Canada.

Chris Whiteley brings a wealth of experience to his performance. A Maple Blues Award winner, he has performed with many of the greats in the field of blues. As a member of the Mariposa in the Schools program since the early 1970’s, together with brother Ken Whiteley or with Diana Braithwaite, he has worked with students in both performance and workshops using various forms of traditional blues instruments including trumpet, guitar, harmonica, spoons, washboard, and washtub bass.

Kim & Jerry Brodey

Award winning recording artists, Kim and Jerry Brodey are dynamic performers who have sparked the imagination of many North American teachers who are seeking new ways of enriching the lives of their students. Their passion for creating safe and inclusive learning environments for children is a fundamental aspect of their work that also focuses on diversity and equity issues, community, team building, and conflict resolution.

Gurpreet Chana

Gurpreet Chana began to learn Indian Classical Tabla in the Punjab Gharana style from his Ustad Ji professor Parshotam Singh but has since added a unique diverse flavour influenced by growing up in Canada and listening to a variety of musical genres. His passion for percussion instruments has led him to experiment with other world beats playing the djembe, congas, dhol, zarb, doumbek, daf, or anything he can get his hands on!

Rita Cox

Trinidad born author and storyteller Rita Cox has received the Order of Canada for her active role in promoting storytelling, multicultural education and literacy. Rita opens the magic world of books to her listeners by weaving together the oral and written word, providing the tools for lifelong love of reading and telling.

Cuban Ensemble/Latin Street (Mireya Escalante, Mario del Monte Jr and emerging artist, Glenda del Monte)

Latin Street travels the musical spectrum from Cuban Son, Cha Cha, Mambo, Bolero and Salsa to Latin Jazz, Blues, R&B, Soul and Jazz standards among others. Led by the internationally and critically acclaimed Mireya Escalante and Mario del Monte Jr, they are joined by their very talented daughter Glenda, together they bringing their passion for afro-cuban traditional music and movement to Ontario schools.

Deborah Dunleavy

Deborah Dunleavy is a professional performing artist whose career as an award winning record producer, singer, musician, author, storyteller and arts educator, has spanned 30 years. For the last decade she has focused on the art of storytelling with performances in Ireland, Scotland and across Canada, as well as establishing the 1000 Islands Yarnspinners. She is also the artistic director for the FOS Festival of Storytelling, and the current editor for the Storytelling Toronto’s Pippen Magazine.

Andrea Haddad

Andrea Haddad finds that the excitement of French folk music and dance can be transformed easily into enthusiastic language learning. She has lived in Quebec, Switzerland and France where she performed and researched traditional francophone music and learned to play vielle à roué, the French hurdy gurdy. She continues to perfrom in Toronto and has recently retired as an award winning French teacher with TDSB.

Sally Jaeger

Sally Jaeger is an avid advocate of developing early literacy skills, creating the first of 3 parent child programs in the early 80’s in Toronto including Lullibies and Lap Rhymes and Mr. Bear Says Hello for infants to pre-schoolers that she continues today with her daughter Erika Webster. Sally also provides a variety of storytelling programs for young school children, as well as highly participatory workshops for educators fostering the love of language for all participants.

Sheniz Janmohamed

As a young Toronto poet, spoken word artist and freelance writer, Sheniz Janmohamed hopes to inspire a younger generation to nurture their artistic side and to gain an appreciation for poetry, literature and perfornance in order to challenge their perceptions as well as honour their cultural heritage.

Anne Lederman

Anne Lederman is a virtuoso fiddler, singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and tireless crusader for Canadian music. Her fiddling is strongly rooted in the mixed traditions of the prairies including Métis, French, Old-Time, and Ukrainian styles, however she is also an inspiring exponent of Irish, Scottish, Quebecois, as well as Klezmer and jazz styles. In addition to lending her fiddle in bringing traditional North American French dance tunes to life with caller Bill Russell, Anne is a mentoring artist with the Métis Elder/Youth Fiddle Project as part of MITS Artist Renewal program that provides participating Métis youth fiddlers with learning opportunities in select Ontario First Nations communities.

Joy Lapps Lewis * NEW ARTIST

Joy Lapps Lewis began playing the steel pan in 1997 at Malvern's Church of the Nativity under the direction of Vince Cato and she soon after earned the title of "Princess of Pan".  In addition to her very successful public performances she shares her presentations through out the GTA and beyond.

Wendy Lulham

Wendy Lulham is an Early Childhood Educator, musician and artists. She has been a featured guest at the PJ’s & Pillows children’s concerts in the Toronto Beach area and together with Carol Ashton have delighted young children and families with their song compositions, traditional stories, rhythms and tunes.

Markus (Mark De Domenico)

Frequently featured in Tree House TV, this multi-award winning arts educator, singer, songwriter combines upbeat melodies with quirky lyrics in his toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’ music. He composes most of the songs he performs and, through his songwriting workshops students are given the input and guidance necessary to compose their own original song. Markus also provides music workshops for classroom teachers, parents and childcare workers helping to integrate music and singing as a daily classroom routine.

Métis Fiddler Quartet

Born with proud Métis roots in Winnipeg, this bilingual family ensemble is currently based in Toronto. Siblings Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas and Danton Delbraere-Sawchuk bring their talent and enthusiasm in passing on Métis fiddle traditions to future generations.

Muhtadi

A native of Trinidad, Muhtadi is one of Canada’s leading percussionist and founder/artistic director of Muhtadi’s International Drumming Festival. He plays the djembe, bongos, congas, timbales, steel pan and wide variety of other percussion instrument when he performs both nationally and internationally. However, he devotes much of his time to teaching the art of drumming to young and old in both community-based arts projects, and school programs, and has recently received the 2011 Harry Jerome Award for his work with Toronto’s at risk-youth.

Hannah Naiman

Hannah Naiman has been dancing for more than 20 years and teaching and leading folk dances for over 6 years. She looks forward to introducing first time dancers to the joy and delight that comes from dancing together to traditional dance tunes.

Esther Osche

Esther Osche is a master storyteller and teacher of local history in Birch Island (Manitoulin). She visits schools and libraries sharing legends and stories of the Ojibwa people that were passed down to her from her grandparents.

Marylyn Peringer

Marylyn Peringer tells remarkable stories in English and French across Ontario and throughout Canada. Her wide repertoire includes Canadian and world folklore of the stars and constellations, fables and riddle tales, as well as classic epics.

Puppetmongers (Ann Powell and David Powell)

Award winning sister and brother team started playing with puppets as children. Since establishing Puppetmongers in 1974, they have been creating remarkable plays with intriguing plots, and with great delicacy, wit and imagination.

Chris Rawlings

Award winning bilingual musician and songwriter was born in Montreal and now makes his home in Toronto. Either on his own or, with MITS friends Marylyn Peringer and Bill Russell and/or, with Peter Jellard, Chris’ school programs feature engaging traditional and original songs and music about his native Montreal, French Canadian celebrations and the environment.

Kathy Reid Naiman

Kathy Reid Naiman is an award-winning musician, recording artist and arts educator for children. She is dedicated to bringing quality musical experiences to young children as well as their caregivers, parents and teachers. Playing guitar, fiddle Appalachian dulcimer, banjo, bowed psaltery and autoharp, Kathy is also an active folk-musician as a member of Ragged but Right and as the fiddler for The Toronto Women’s Sword Team. As a mentoring artists with MITS Artists Renewal Project, Kathy is very proud to provide her talented daughter Hannah, with opportunities to develop her own school programs.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is known for his ability to get his audience involved and participating. Bill's recordings, workshops and concerts draw upon the Cajun and Creole traditions of his native Louisiana. His audiences easily make the connection among the many French traditions of North America. He currently makes his home in Quebec City, however he visits Ontario school communities twice annually either on his, or with MITS friends Marylyn Peringer and Chris Rawlings, as well as calling French traditional dances with Anne Lederman for school community events.

Itah Sadu

Award winning author, storyteller and owner of Toronto bookstore, A Different Booklist, Itah Sadu shares the rich oral traditions of the Caribbean, Africa and North America with students and teachers. Her stories, workshops and keynotes often address issues of racism and equity as well as demonstrating the wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom gained from oral traditional cultures of the African Diaspora.

Michael St. George

With deep roots in the African oral tradition of the griots, Michael St. George is a multi-media performance dub poet. A native of Jamaica and inspired by his working-class upbringing, Michael focuses his work on the themes of justice and social equity. Although he has been performing live and recording his music as well publishing his poetry since 1985, he devotes much of his time to working with at-risk youth in both schools and community programs in Toronto, London (UK) and with the Turn Around Project in Hamilton and Jamaica providing inspirational and catalytic workshops addressing issues relevant to their lives today.

Jowi Taylor

Jowi Taylor is a multiple award winning writer and broadcaster best known for his long-running CBC Radio program Global Village, the Peabody Award winning radio series The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music and its celebrated companion series: The Nerve: Music and the Human Experience. His independent Six String Nation multi-media project centered around a guitar built entirely from pieces of Canadian heritage, combines Jowi's various fascinations including music, media, community-building and the intersection of Canada's history and multicultural identity.

Erika Webster * EMERGING ARTIST

The daughter of storyteller, Sally Jaeger and composer and radio producer, David Jaeger, Erkia Webster was wrapped in rhymes, songs and stories from birth. Now over 30 years later, Erika is an avid storyteller and has been telling professionally for the last 10 years. She looks forward to working along side Sally as they pass on their favorite stories and rhymes to pre-schoolers and primary students and their teachers.

Ken Whiteley

Ken Whiteley is one of Canada’s pre-eminent performing roots music artists. He has been called the godfather of children’s music and a playing encyclopedia for his vast repertoire, command of a wide variety of styles including blues, gospel, swing, folk and his own compositions, and his prodigious ability on over a dozen instruments. Half dozen artists have covered his songs and his walls are adorned with a dozen gold and multiple platinum records, but it is the immense joy that communicates from all his musical endeavors that make his work so unique.

Chris and Ken Whiteley

The Whiteley brothers are multiple award winning singers, songwriters, and mutli-instrumentalists playing over 20 different instruments – mostly Chris on trumpet, harmonica and guitar and Ken on 6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, and piano. They are renown for mastering a variety of musical styles including blues, swing, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, jug band and folk. They are respected for the wealth of knowledge and authenticity that they bring to their performances and workshops as well as for their great joy and enthusiasm.

Sandra Whiting

Sandra Whiting has been at the epicenter of activity and change in Toronto’s African Canadian community for over twenty years. She has worked with the Ontario Black History Society, Jamaican Canadian Association, the Caribbean Cultural Committee and was awarded the Harry Jerome Award for Community Leadership in 2002. As a keynote speaker and storyteller, Sandra uses the arts as a vehicle for positive social change.

Dan Yashinsky

Award winning author and storyteller, Dan Yashinsky has been a storyteller for more than thirty years. Drawing on his own crossroads heritage (Jewish, Turkish, Romanian, American, French) and the unforgettable stories collected on his travels, he has performed at schools and festivals around the world. He is the founder of Toronto's 1,001 Friday Nights of Storytelling, the longest-running storytelling series in North America and is the creator of the Telling Bee Curriculum Project, a school-based family oral literacy.

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