Performers Announcement 2021

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The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) occurs entirely online over the weekend of April 23, Friday, through Sunday, April 25. Attendees of this year’s festival will be able to enjoy the weekend’s events virtually from the safety of their home or bubble. Tickets and weekend passes are on sale now and prices range from $10 for an individual ticket to $20 for a weekend pass, plus ticketing fees. Learn more and purchase tickets here.


Ottawa Grassroots Festival Virtual Lineup 2021

    • Albert Dumont

      Albert Dumont

      Albert Dumont is a Poet, Storyteller, Spiritual Advisor, Speaker and a Traditional Teacher. He was born and raised in traditional Algonquin territory. He has been walking the “Red Road” since commencing his sobriety over 30 years ago. He has published five books of poetry and short stories and two children’s books written in three languages.

      Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Indigenous spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples particularly the young. He is the father of two daughters and grandfather of five grandchildren.

      Albert Dumont is the Founder of Turtle Moons Contemplations.

    • Chris White

      Chris White

      Chris White loves connecting people with music and with one another.  He co-founded the Ottawa Folk Festival with Max Wallace in 1993 and spent the next 16 years creating an atmosphere of celebration, inclusion and participation in the role of Artistic Director.  He hosts ‘Canadian Spaces’, the Saturday morning folk show on CKCU FM, and ‘Canadian Faces’, a live Sunday evening gathering of artists on Facebook.  Chris has led singing groups for home-schooled children (‘The Sparrows’), for people with dementia (‘Turquoise’), for seniors (‘The Merry Songsters’) and for men (‘Brothers Aloud’).  He organizes concerts and community events through Folkzone, a company he co-founded with long-time Grassroots Festival contributor, Mark Delorme.  Chris has released three albums of his songs – ‘Inner Voice’, ‘Music All Around’, and ‘I’m A Poet… And I’m Aware Of It’ – and is currently working on a memoir.

    • Gurdeep Pandher

      Gurdeep Pandher is a Yukon based, Bhangra dance artist. He lives in a small off-grid cabin in the wilderness near Lake Laberge. He creates dance videos in nature/outdoors and performances that bring people together. He is best known for spreading joy, hope and positivity during the pandemic. Millions of viewers throughout the world have watched his wilderness videos. For more information, please visit

    • Ian Tamblyn

      Ian Tamblyn

      At last count Ian has released 44 albums. His last two albums, Let It Go and Te Na Gadino were released in 2018. As well Ian has written several plays, the most recent production being Nun of It

      which was presented September 15-17th, 2019 at the Black Sheep as part of the Ta! DA! Festival.

      Ian has received several awards for his music, he has an honourary doctorate from Lakehead University and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Trent University. He is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  He is also a winner of the Estelle Klein and Jackie Washing ton Awards for his contributions to the Canadian Roots music world. He has won and been nominated for two Juno Awards, as well as winning the English Songwriter of the Year Award in 2010 from the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

      In the winter of 2020 Ian taught a songwriting course for Chelsea teenagers at the Mill Road Community Space in Chelsea through the auspices of City Folk and Bluesfest. He also has been teaching an advanced songwriting class in Wakefield at Earl’s Hall. In March, Ian will be touring on Vancouver Island. In the fall he will renew teaching songwriting to students at Carleton university.

      April will mark the re-release of his album Magnetic North. The album has been remastered and will be released. The Record Store and Precision Records are aiding with the manufacture and re-release of this Juno nominated album.

      A full touring schedule continued in March on the west coast until the Covid -19 pandemic intervened.. See his website at for future concerts

      This summer Ian will be spending time on Lake Superior canoeing and writing. In the fall of 2020 Ian hopes to resume his regular touring schedule with performances in Ottawa, Kingston, Perth and Toronto.  (Not much luck there!)

      In recent months Ian has written several articles on music for the “Folk Roots Canada” website and he is currently researching and writing a new play set in the Gatineaus entitled Ice Storm.

      In the Fall of 2020 Ian began recording his next release with the working title, A Longing for Innocence. It will mark his forty-fifth recording as an independent artist.

    • Jessica Pearson and the East Wind

      Jessica Pearson and the East Wind

      Jessica Pearson is a Canadian born storyteller with a voice like melting honey on a summer’s eve. Accompanied by Maddy O’Regan on the fiddle, they bring to life tales of the past and express the beauty and heartbreak of the world today.

      In 2017 they released their debut EP ‘Grave and Garden Songs’ to a sold out crowd at LIVE! On Elgin. Playing over 80 shows a year in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, they have been writing songs and collecting stories from all over the world.

      Jessica Pearson and the East Wind have recently signed to Willow Sound Records and Syndicut Music Publishing with Jessica’s first cut on Joe Diffie’s single ‘As Long As There’s A Bar’. They are currently working on their first full length album to be released in 2020.

      Their music blends folk, roots and East Coast bluegrass to create a unique sound of their own. From a cappella tunes sung in the middle of the audience to recollections of growing up in Canada, Jessica Pearson and the East Wind will take you on a journey with their dynamic live shows and entertaining story telling.

      Vocals, Guitar / Jessica Pearson
      Vocals, Fiddle / Maddy O’Regan

    • Jody Benjamin & Michael Ball

      Michael Ball and Jody Benjamin are partners in life and music.  Their group Ball and Chain has been making music since 1994 and they have numerous recordings under their belts.  Focusing mainly on Old Time Country to begin with, they have expanded their musical stylings to include Cajun and Zydeco, (The Vanier Playboys).  Michael and Jody have been making regular trips to South West Louisiana for almost 30 years to bask in the rich Cajun/Zydeco culture there.  The music, the dancing, the food and the joi de vivre are all big attractions for them.  Michael plays fiddle and mandolin and sings while Jody plays acoustic guitar and triangle or rubboard and sings.

    • Joshua Jairus Porras

      Joshua Jairus Porras

      I am Joshua Jairus Porras, I am 21 years old. I was born and raised in the Philippines. We moved here in Ottawa in 2016. I do believe that words are powerful, soldiers could kill a thousand but words can change the outcome of a war. Words inspire, that is the reason why I perform using words as my sword; writing rap and poetry. I just don’t write stuff to sugarcoat something, I write based on my experiences and things that are happening around me. To be specific, I am a Christian rapper and I share God’s love to everyone, whatever your religion, race or beliefs. I will share my love, no matter what. To God be the glory!

    • KAR33M


      KAR33M is an Afro-Soul artist that creates narrative style music using 3 different voices, providing a unique perspective with each voice. He recalls his first contact with music in his younger days growing up in Nigeria with his family. KAR33M was exposed to a plethora of diverse sounds at an early age, he remembers waking up to the sound of his grandmother singing him songs of praise in Yoruba and moving around the house while dancing to songs from artists like King Sunny Ade and Ayinde Wasiu Mashal played by his mother. He was also exposed to western music when he would spend time with his uncles who would play music from artists like Usher, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Westlife and Backstreet boys.

      His introduction to artists like Usher was the catalyst for KAR33M’s love for music. He would practice the songs that he heard in front of a fan, loudly belting out the off-key notes until they sounded perfect. Developing his skills and talent in the arts and honing in on the lyricism he admired from genres of music like Afrobeat, Rap, Pop, R&B and Soul, KAR33M would go on to write his debut Neo-soul EP titled WHOAMI? An EP about Black Identity, love, and existentialism.

      Today, he creates Afro-Soul music that reflects the current state of his world and the perspectives of members of the Black diaspora.

    • Kate Weekes & James Stephens

      Kate Weekes & James Stephens

      Few artistic journeys have been as expansive as the one mounted by Kate Weekes as she assembled ‘Taken by Surprise’, recorded in 2019 with James Stephens in Chelsea, QC.

      Now based in Chelsea, Quebec after nearly a decade spent immersed in the Yukon’s vibrant music scene, Weekes drew on an astonishing array of experiences including dog mushing-for-hire in Norway, touring China with a swing band, canoeing from Whitehorse to Dawson City and, notably, several intense personal relationships to write these by turns mournful and joyous songs.

      That unique backstory explains why a one-genre description simply cannot capture the album’s musical scope. It’s more like: eclectic, lyrical, vocally propelled folk/pop with subtle jazz underpinnings buoyed by everything from organ to flugelhorn to trumpet. Indeed, you might say ‘Taken by Surprise’ is the ultimate sonic scrapbook of a bold life lived to the fullest.

    • Kimberly Sunstrum

      Kimberly Sunstrum

      Singer-songwriter Kimberly Sunstrum is a heart-stopping performer. Her song writing is deep, evocative, and powerful. An inspired blend of the music she listened to growing up in Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada – classic R&B, South African pop, old-time country and 70’s Motown – she weaves them together exquisitely.

      She writes about the world as she sees it with a powerful poetry and grace. Mixed-race identity, feminism, queerness, love, and family are reflections of her life and constant themes in her songs.

    • Kristine St-Pierre

      Kristine St-Pierre

      Kristine St-Pierre est une auteure-compositrice-interprète bilingue à la voix de velours. Cette chansonnière au coeur voyageur charme son public avec ses mélodies accrocheuses et l’authenticité de ses textes. Suite à la sortie d’un EP bilingue en 2010 et de l’album bilingue Call Me Crazy en 2012, elle lance La promesse en 2017, un premier opus tout en français. L’album lui mérite une nomination au Prix de la musique folk canadienne en 2018 (catégorie auteur-compositeur francophone de l’année) ainsi qu’une nomination à l’Association de musique country de l’Ontario (artiste francophone de l’année). Kristine oeuvre présentement sur un album de Noël en collaboration avec l’artiste Franco-manitobain Justin Lacroix. L’album intitulé “Noël avec toi” sera disponible à la mi-novembre 2019.

      Kristine St-Pierre is a bilingual folk singer-songwriter with soul-searching ballads and a rollicking bluesy flair. Described as a “songwriter with a traveling heart,” Kristine sings with passion, vulnerability and authenticity. Her music has lent her multiple nominations by the Canadian Folk Music Awards, the Country Music Association of Ontario and the Trille Or.

    • Larse Mantilez

      Larse Mantilez

      My name is Larse Mantilez, 21 years old,  I’m a singer and songwriter. I have been  singing since my childhood as a hobby but  after middle school I started taking it  seriously in my Senior year, after

      Graduating I took a year off to find myself in  what I wanted to do. I was recommended by a friend to take  performing art in Algonquin college  because of my hard work and creativeness.  My genre and artist that I listen to our  Soulful R&B, hip hop, ballad, POP, indigo  and my favourite artist of all time that really  impacted me and inspired me is Nathan John Feuerstein also known as NF. I am  studying Algonquin college in performing  arts to learn and to understand what performance is. I am working and learning different kinds of stuff such as acting, filming directing, editing, movement and  producing. My dream is to perform on  stage and I want to create and produce my own songs and make an  album that I want, and also my goal is to  direct a short film or skit and a music video  and my own music video. I always like to  consider myself as an over thinker in a  good creative way and a hard working  person. Fun fact about me is that they say  I’m a perfectionist and I’m scary when I get  serious but not to worry. That is just me being in the zone and I am a caring person and a  good listener.

    • Leela Gilday

      Leela Gilday

      A passionate singer/songwriter and soulful performer, Leela Gilday has a voice that comes straight from the heart. Confessing her stories to her audiences with a gutsy voice and open stage presence, Gilday weaves her experiences as a northerner, a member of the Dene nation, and a traveler into a beautiful world that transports the listener.

      If you’re from the North, Leela’s music is home. If you’ve never been, it will take you there. Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, she writes about the people and the land that created her. The power in her voice conveys the depth of her feelings of love and life in a rugged environment and vibrant culture, as if it comes straight from that earth. Leela’s family is from Dél?ne on the shore of Great Bear Lake and her rich vocals dance across the rhythmic beats of traditional Dene drumming as smoothly as a bass line onstage the largest venues in the country. And she has played them all.

    • Lynn Miles

      Lynn Miles

      Lynn Miles is one of Canada’s most accomplished singer/songwriters. With fifteen solo albums to her credit, Lynn was awarded the 2002 JUNO for Roots and Traditional Solo Album of the Year and has won multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards (‘Solo Artist of The Year”’& ‘English Songwriter of the Year’) and received a 2021 CFMA nomination for Artist of the Year. As one half of the duo “THE LYNNeS,” who released the Album “Heartbreak Song For The Radio” in 2018, she received two Canadian Folk Music Awards for ‘Ensemble of the Year’ and ‘English Songwriters of the Year’ and her song  “Black Flowers” is on the 2017 Grammy Nominated “North By South” album by Claire Lynch. Lynn has also produced several CD’s for fellow artists, including Kathrine Wheatley and Lynne Hanson. And you may recognize her song ‘Three Chords and the Truth,’ which is included in the BBC TV show ‘Case Histories.’

    • Melissa Labrecque

      Melissa Labrecque

      My name is Melissa labrecque. My stage name is Luna Blackwood. I am a 20 year old, indigenous multimedia artist, singer, equestrian, photographer and actor. I also do kickboxing and have done many martial arts and self defense courses including sword and shield training. My goal growing up was to become a “Jill of all Trades”. I wanted to be a paleontologist and then a doctor. Then I wanted to be a singer and songwriter. I wanted to go into acting and stunt work at a young age but due to my shy nature I never pursued it until now.

      In grade school, we were forced to act in school plays whether we wanted to or not. I loved the experience. I loved watching the special features and behind the scenes of a movie more than the actual movie itself. I wanted more than anything to be a part of the magical process of creating a movie.

      Then high school hit and that dream was put on pause. I sang at a few open mics over the past couple years but was never confident enough on stage or camera, especially alone.

      Then I made the life-changing decision to go to school for acting instead of fine arts.

      This was a hard decision, as growing up I thought I only had one choice; to go to art school. I was known by friends and family as the artistic one. I sold a few paintings but nothing major and wanted to pursue it until someone told me I’d never make any money that way. I tried studying harder for the things that might be useful in life but always found myself looking back at the dream put on hold.  Now that I’m in performing arts I suddenly realized how much fun I missed out on during highschool when times were tough.

    • Mia Kelly

      Mia Kelly

      Mia Kelly is a young Ottawa-Gatineau based singer/songwriter. Melding folk and rock with a twist of soulful blues, Mia’s powerful voice draws audience members into songs that are filled with deep themes and raw emotions. She lights up the room with her happy soul and infectious energy.

      Filling spaces with love, hope, sing-alongs, and stomping feet, Mia has many performances under her belt, including shows at RBC Bluesfest, Blacksheep Inn, Festival of Small Halls, Blueskies Music Festival, Stewart Park Festival. As one of Ottawa’s ten artists to watch in 2020 (Ottawa Citizen), 18-year-old Mia’s youthful spirit and fresh bilingual material will make it a show to remember.

    • OGF Virtual Choir with Andy Rush

      OGF Virtual Choir with Andy Rush

      Andy Rush has had so much fun facilitating gangs of mixed ability/mixed experience singers into choirs. He’s done this with his high school kids at Ernestown Secondary School, with pre-service teacher candidates at Queen’s, with his own Open Voices Community Choir of Kingston, and as a guest facilitator in Ottawa, Haliburton, Merrickville, Almonte, Kathmandu and Chennai. It’s all about unlocking the song… figuring out the tricky bits and then enjoying singing. Andy’s wife and two adult daughters are all visual artists. Andy lives in a co-operative housing neighbourhood in Kingston, Ontario.

    • Rhi Vautrin

      Rhi Vautrin

      Rhi Vautrin is 19 and uses She/They pronouns. She is currently attending Algonquin College’s Performing Arts program. Rhi has always been passionate about theatre since she first performed as a female version of Friar Lawrence in their high school production of Drop Dead Juliet and could not see a life for themselves where they don’t have some connection to it. She is equally as passionate about creative writing and enjoys writing short stories and poems with large sweeping imagery and witty one-liners.

      Rhi Vautrin is 19 and uses She/They pronouns. She is currently attending Algonquin College’s Performing Arts program. Rhi has always been passionate about theatre since she first performed as a female version of Friar Lawrence in their high school production of Drop Dead Juliet and could not see a life for themselves where they don’t have some connection to it. She is equally as passionate about creative writing, having written short stories and poems, along-side a play for her high school theatre department and enjoys writing short stories and poems with large sweeping imagery and witty one-liners. Rhi is relatively reserved until you get to know her but has always found theatre to be something that helps get them more comfortable and open with others in a new environment.

    • Russell Levia

      Russell Levia has been active in the Ottawa music scene for over 40 years. He usually performs solo but has also been part of several collaborations including…..” Bec and Rusty ” with Rebecca Campbell ; ” The Lobster Buoys ” with Bill Cameron and Victor Maltby ; and ” The Old Showoffs ” with Jody Benjamin and Michael Ball. He has also worked extensively with the ” Rag And Bone Puppet Theatre ” {? John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan } as their musician for 27 years. Russell has released 4 c.d.’s” Tea For Two ” {? Bec And Rusty }” So Rare ” {? Jazz standards } ” The Wayward Wind ” {? classic country }” Morningtown Ride ” {? songs for children }. At this years’ festival he will be performing his favourite jazz standards, folk songs, country and gospel tunes.

    • Sneezy Waters

      Sneezy Waters

      Legendary Ottawa-based folksinger Sneezy Waters grew up in a musical family – his mother, Helen, played piano and sang, and his father, John, had sung in the Hart House Glee Club. Along with a brother John and sister Julie, weekend evenings were spent singing many styles of folk songs together.

      As a child, Sneezy sang in St. Luke’s Church Choir with choirmaster Leonard Foss.

      Later in his teens, Sneezy started performing folk music in coffee houses, primarily Cafe Le Hibou (Ottawa). While he performed solo, he also performed in various groups including “Nev and Pete” (with Nevile Wells), and “The Children” (with Chris Anderson, Sandy Crawley, Bruce Cockburn and Neville Wells).

      Sneezy, along with Susan Jains, first played the NAC Terrace in June 1969 as “A Rosewood Daydream”; they later played at Expo 70 in Osaka, and spent another year playing residencies in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Vientiane, All India Radio and Copenhagen.

      Upon his return to Canada in 1971, he became Ottawa’s very first busker, after which he formed “The Great Sneezy Waters and His Excellent Band”, which toured for many years across Canada, in all Provinces and Territories, and were featured on many network and radio T.V. shows.

      From 1977 until 1992, under direction of Peter Froelich, Sneezy starred in the title role in “Hank Williams – the Show He Never Gave” in over 800 performances from Canada, to the United States and Europe.

      In a subsequent film version of the play, Sneezy won the Best Actor Award in the 3e Festival du Film Musical in Grenoble, France. The film was nominated for Best Country Motion Picture in the 19th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles, losing out only to “Tender Mercies”.

      Sneezy has been playing over the last several years at the NAC’s Fourth Stage and other local venues to sold out shows featuring “The Very Fine Band” consisting of Dave Bignell and Vince Halfhide – guitars; Ed Bimm – keyboards; Ann Downey – upright bass; and Peter Beaudoin – drums. They play a very wide range of Passionate Music from many genres and eras. It’s not a show to be missed.

    • Sonia Gramcko

      Sonia is a 25 year old singer-songwriter from Ottawa, Ontario. Her main influence is folk-music but she also enjoys playing other genres such as country and pop.

      She is currently in her third year doing a Bachelor of Music at Carleton University and plans on pursuing her performance studies in her 4th and last year.

    • Spirit of Rasputin’s Open Stage, with host Sjef Frenken

      Spirit of Rasputin’s Open Stage, with host Sjef Frenken

      Sjef Frenken is a happily retired former civil servant who keeps himself busy writing short stories and putting music to other folks’ poems. There’s more information about him on the website

      Sjef Frenken has been hosting the Open Stage at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival since its inception. Every year the Open Stage grows and Frenken is pleased to see new and returning participants. The Open Stage at the OGF is a popular event, and a showcase for some remarkable talent. The Open Stage is interested in drawing new performers. And, of course, listeners! Be sure to be among them.

    • Victor Nesrallah

      Acclaimed singer songwriter, musician, composer and producer Victor Nesrallah has been entertaining audiences appearing at festivals, concert stages and club venues throughout Canada and abroad performing his original blend of Roots World Folk and Blues. Featuring  powerful songwriting and  a commanding vocal presence, Victor’s compositions have been acclaimed as “finely tuned songs”, praised for their originality and hard-hitting message. A multi-instrumentalist with a mastery of guitar with comparisons ranging  from Keb Mo, Harry Manx and Bruce Coburn , Victor draws from the roots and world traditions to inspire his compelling live shows. Numerous independent releases including Once A Rebel 2018; Collections “Roots World Folk and Blues 2015, Hallways 2014, Based in Blues 2006, and his acclaimed Middle Eastern fusion album Blood From The Stone 2000. His music and songs have been featured on both public and private broadcasting networks and are streaming world wide.

      Often heralded as an unsung hero and Ottawa legend, in a performance career spanning over 35 years, Victor Nesrallah  has entertained audiences from as far away as Beirut Lebanon, Italy, The Caribbean, Costa Rica and toured Canada as the featured Artist on Board Via Rail. Featuring powerful songwriting, a compelling voice and mastery of guitar, Victor draws from the roots and world cultures to inspire his passionate shows. Blues Roots Radiocalls his latest release Once A Rebel “thoroughly captivating from start to finish, the lyrical content is compelling and full of intrigue throughout, and might just be his best release to date “.

  • Vince Halfhide

    Vince Halfhide

    In 1969 guitarist Vince Halfhide began a decade of playing in Heaven’s Radio, the almost legendary Ottawa blues and reggae band fronted by Terry Gillespie. Over the years he also became a valued sideman with artists like Sneezy Waters, the Toasted Westerns, Missy Burgess and the Mighty Popo (recipient of the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Best Group – World Music”). As a singer-songwriter, he is now slowly gathering fans who appreciate his take on blues, folk and roots music.