Polky means “Polish women” and this group is made up of three of them. Ewelina Ferenc, is a singer, Ala Stasuik is a dancer and Marta Solek is a multi-instrumentalist. They met through mutual friends in Toronto after immigrating from Poland in 2017/18.
Marta is famous in Poland as she is a classically trained cellist who plays for orchestras in Toronto. She is the only person in Canada (and perhaps North America) that plays a Suka, which is an instrument that was reconstructed based on an image from 1895. She also plays lap fiddles and a Greek Lyra, but no guitar. They are a guitarless band.
Peter Klaassen plays the bass, Sam Clark plays the fiddle and Oisin Hannigan plays percussion. They had never played Polish music before joining the band and now, they are passionate supporters of it.
Ala sings and dances during the show when she isn’t working at her day job in the marketing department of various arts organizations in Toronto. Ewelina is the lead singer and is keen on promoting other female-led bands and, in particular, from their homeland of Poland.
Ewelina came to Canada on the International Experience Program for one year and met her now husband, Matthew, through mutual friends. They were married the next year and she gave birth to their first daughter, Aurora, in 2020. In 2023, Ewelina created her own company called Sweet Beets Music. It is a booking agency and she already has 10 groups signed up. She is bringing more music to Canada from Poland and is finding that Canadians really like Polish music. If you are planning to have a multi-cultural festival, like Brockville, Ontario is, get in touch with Ewelina at: email@example.com.
Ewelina came to Canada because she felt that it was a place where she could be herself and bring what she knew from Poland. She believes that there are more opportunities here and that the Canadian society is more accepting and open than the one in Poland. She notes that there are differences between what people are listening to in Toronto and Montreal.
Their experience playing on the Fourth Stage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Jan. 21, 2023 was nothing less than exhilarating. The audience was “the best we have ever had”. “They were dancing and made us feel so welcome,” she explained. The banter from the audience was infectious.
Their album, Songs From Home, was released during the pandemic, in December 2020 and they were recognized with three nominations at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, where Ewelina won Traditional Singer of the Year.
Ottawa is blessed to have them come again on Sat. April 22, 2023 to the Ottawa Grassroots Festival at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 82 Kent St., in downtown Ottawa. The acoustics in this venue are heavenly and you don’t want to miss these multi-talented women who are making their way in a foreign land that they now call home. Multiculturalism is what makes Canada great and we are thrilled to have them play for us this spring.
You can get your season pass at www.ottawagrassrootsfestival.com.
Laurie Bowen is a freelance music journalist, author and scriptwriter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org