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Women sing, dance, roar

Sunday, March 15, 2015

When Women Roar, a concert for International Women’s Day, put women in the spotlight at the Big Black Box on Murray Street, Woodbrook, on March 8.

Glenda Collens got things started with a stirring and soulful interpretation of Nature Boy, followed by I Am Woman, accompanied by Lion on djembe drum. The percussion-only backing gave the singer’s performance a stark solemnity that turned to joy as she let her voice play and soar.

She was followed by the host for the evening, Philomena, everybody’s favourite domestic worker. She kept things spicy with candid comments on the status of women and girls in society.

Greta Mendez gave a short, semi-improvised performance that blended words and movement to highlight the ways that our “globalised” society focuses on women’s physical image. Using a long band of white cloth that she arranged around herself, she seemed to transform into different personas, commanding attention with her poise and intensity.

Leslie Ann Gay made the audience pay attention with her rendition of I Was Born by the River. Her deep, mellifluous voice held their attention and they showed their appreciation with loud applause.

Louris Lee Sing delivered a calypso, Put a Woman in the House, which argued that females make good leaders. 

The seasoned performer seemed almost bashful onstage, but she left patrons with something to think about.

Toronto-based director, producer and actress Rhoma Spencer shared some humour, giving an earthy stand-up piece on the joys of getting older—including hot flashes and the effects of iron supplements.

Jelae Stroude Mitchell shook things up with her bawdy monologue extracted from this year’s 3canal Show, RAW. She portrayed a Woodbrook sex worker with her assets on display for potential clients, proclaiming her worth.

Composer and keyboardist Chantal Esdelle teamed up with pan player Natasha Joseph on double-seconds to play Esdelle’s original, Love Changes. It was a beautiful musical moment, with both women shining on their instruments.

Louanna Martin performed an engaging and sobering dance piece from The Museum of Difficult Women, exploring society's stereotypes around femininity. 

Veteran actress Cecilia Salazar closed the show in her Miss Miles incarnation, a character drawn from 70s T&T activist Gene Miles. Salazar performed Right Here, a calypso she performed at the Barrack Yard Tent Experience this Carnival. With her face a garish death mask in white, red and black, she brought the desperate ghost to life, singing stridently: 

People in this country just hate this woman

Because ah spill the beans in front of the commission

But tell all ah dem this woman stands for honesty

Ah doh want no dam corruption in my country. 

After the performances, a very colourful DJ Tillah Willah (Attillah Springer), who had arrived straight from Phagwa festivities earlier in the evening, spun tunes as patrons danced. 

Audience contributions were collected for donation to the St Jude’s Home for Girls.


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