Arts and Culture for Early Years       May 4 – 24, 2020        

Festival Archive

Holiday Monday Artists

Soprano Cheryl Campbell is currently in the process of recording a fundraising CD of classical music for babies. All proceeds will go to benefit music therapy in the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto ( She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share selections with an audience of young children and parents at the WeeFestival.


Cheryl’s performance experience extends from opera and operetta to recital and orchestral repertoire. Operatic roles have included Konstanze (Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio), Armida (Handel’s Rinaldo), Olympia (Tales of Hoffmann), Gilda (Rigoletto), Despina (Così fan tutte), Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), and others. She has sung Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Vivaldi’s Gloria (both with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra), and was the featured soloist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra for their concert commemorating Haydn’s anniversary year. Visit her website here.



Erika Del Carmen Fuchs is a community developer, popular educator and social researcher with a strong commitment and passion for social and food justice over her many years of working with ethnically and linguistically diverse communities. She sees food and our connections to it as a tool to educate, build leadership and voice, and build a more just and sustainable community and world. She is an Ambassador for Barefoot Books, a line of children’s books in line with her values of supporting creativity and early learning from a diverse and ecological perspective.



Cosima Grunsky is a singer-songwriter and performer who has released three adult CDs and three children’s CDs in the last 15 years: the self-titled Cosima, 24 Doors, The Lost Chord, Up On The Hill, When I Grow Up and the most recent The Whole World Sings With Me. She has been actively performing in schools for young children, festivals, clubs, coffee houses, and concert halls from Vancouver to the Maritimes. She has made a number of TV appearances including Breakfast Television in Halifax, and the talent show Jonovision. She has been a featured artist at The Chicago’s Diner during Canadian Music Week 2004 and has also been commissioned to write songs for short films.


Cosima has been singing and performing to live audiences since she was five yearsold, accompanying her dad, Juno award-winning children’s artist, Jack Grunsky. Some highlights were singing the national anthem at a Blue Jays game at Skydome, opening for Jim Cuddy in concert, TV appearances on Mr. Dress-Up and the Toronto Sick Children’s Telethon. To this day Cosima performs as a singer and percussionist in her dad’s band.


Cosima continues to perform with both her band and her children’s music and is working on new songs for a future children’s and adult CD release.



Described by some as a “Renaissance Woman”, multi talented Terra Hazelton is a Canadian singer, Genie-nominated actress, and radio personality. 
Originally from B.C., Terra grew up in Calgary, and became involved in professional theatre and comedy at the ripe age of 14, studying with Keith Johnstone (Theatresports™) and Dennis Cahill at the internationally acclaimed Loose Moose Theatre Company. By age 16, she was teaching improvisation, performing regularly in kids’ shows, improv shows, and experimental theatre.  At 18, she enrolled in the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City. She moved to Toronto in pursuit of a career in improv and theatre. One night she was handed a guitar and asked to fulfill the show’s musical component by writing and performing three funny songs. Three chords later, she was on a career path she had never anticipated. Terra moved from performing silly songs in a cabaret setting to forming her own band, leaning towards being a rock chick extraordinaire. She has toured nationally as a featured vocalist with Jeff Healey; Healey also produced her début record, Anybody’s Baby. Now a staple on the Toronto Jazz Scene, Terra Hazelton leads her own band, Terra Hazelton & Her Easy Answers, and is also a member of notable ensembles such as The Hogtown Syncopators, the Royal Jelly Orchestra of Jaymz Bee (Jazz.Fm) fame, and the 10-Piece Jivebombers. In February of 2009, Terra joined and toured across Canada with Juno Award winner Brandi Disterheft’s band, and again in the summer of 2009, opening for Dave Brubeck in Toronto.
Terra was thrilled to be given a voice on Canada’s Premier Jazz Station, JAZZ.FM91. Along with being an occasional guest host, she was given her own program, Timeless, devoted to celebrating classic compositions from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. Terra was thrilled to be part of the International Women’s Blues Revue in 2009 presented at Massey Hall in Toronto. Her most recent album is Gimme Whatcha Got (2009).



After more than 20 years working as a children’s librarian in Toronto, Theo Heras has retired, but is not out of the children’s book world yet. She still offers programs for babies, both in private homes and in community settings. She writes for children and remains active in CANSCAIP and IBBY-Canada. Currently she chairs the Elizabeth Mrazik Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award. She is the author of a children’s collection of traditional songs and rhymes, What Will We Do With the Baby-O, as well as the singer behind the CD, Seashell, Sing a Song to Me.



Amadou Kienou was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Raised in a family of praise singers or griots, he was initiated in music by his father, Baba Kienou. Amadou specializes in playing the djembe and tama simultaneously. He is the founder of the renowned musical group Ensemble Foteban and was djembe soloist with Burkina Faso’s national dance company. He has performed with artists such as Manu Dibango, Youssou n’Dour, Baba Maal, Mamady Keita and Adama Drame. As a solo performer, he has toured extensively in Africa, Europe, South America and North America and has released three CD’s: Aya Fo, Sya and Taabali.



Blending old school R&B grooves with a songwriting ethic that comes from years of playing, Treasa Levasseur’s smart and soulful brand of music has made her a hot name in the folk, roots, blues and jazz scenes. To follow up to her 2008 critically acclaimed and Juno-nominated album Low Fidelity, Levasseur gathered some of Canada’s best players to record Broad. The album continues to be listed on folk & blues charts alike. Treasa remains one of the most versatile of artists. She’s been compared to Laura Nyro, Bonnie Raitt, Carole King and Marcia Ball. Past festivals include Toronto Jazz, Calgary Blues, Mariposa Folk & Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues.



Tim Machin plays toe tappin’, foot stomping’, tub thumpin’ finger snapping’, hand clappin’, whistle blowin’, fully interactive folk rock for kids and the whole family. He has a unique take on folk & rock songs, with humour that appeals to both kids and older folks. He plays great songs with memorable words, catchy tunes and upbeat tempos from different times and places around the world. He believes that everybody can have fun making music. All of the songs in his repertoire have been arranged and adapted so that the audience can participate in a variety of different ways and experience the joy of making music together.



Since completing her studies at Humber College in Toronto, Sophia Perlman has become a fixture of the Ontario jazz and blues scene. Her musicality, old-soul voice and skill as an improviser have made her a first-call featured singer with some of the top ensembles and musicians in the country. In addition to performing and touring with her own quartet, she is found performing regularly with numerous artists and ensembles, including Adrean Farrugia, The Toronto Jazz Orchestra, The Darcy Hepner Jazz Orchestra, The Toronto Rhythm Initiative, The Vipers, and Chuck Jackson’s Big Bad Blues Band.


Early choral training and a knack for picking out harmony nurtured a deep love for singing with others, and Sophia can often be found collaborating with other vocalists – including Terra Hazelton, Julie Michels, Alex Samaras and Tyler Yarema. From 2008-2013, she worked with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company’s OPERAtion KIDS outreach program, and during her tenure worked with close to 2000 elementary aged students in Toronto creating music and opera, as well as instructing two of their choruses for children as young as three.


Her most recent recording Sophia Perlman & Adrean Farrugia: Alive at Musideum was released in 2012. She is also heard on numerous other recordings – fronting two albums by The Vipers, and as a featured guest on Adrean Farrugia’s Ricochet (JUNO Award nominee, Contemporary Jazz), Brandi Disterheft’s Debut (JUNO Award winner, Traditional Jazz), as well as recordings by The Toronto Jazz Orchestra, The Darcy Hepner Jazz Orchestra, Jesse Barksdale, Mike Fields, Chuck Jackson and many others.



One of 6 finalists nominated for the 2013 TELUS newcomer Artist award, Lua Shayenne is founder of the African dance company, Lua Shayenne & Company. Founded in May 2011, the Company has presented two productions: Departure 00:00, a Danceworks CoWorks Series event (2012) and Djaa at the Festival International Danse Encore (Québec, 2013) and has performed in major venues and festivals: Dusk Dances, Dance ON Dance Weekend, Amnesty International’s Dance for Justice, Kuumba, Afrofest etc. The Company will soon be presenting its 2014 production, Shayenne has choreographed for Dusk Dances, Porch View Dances, Iona Css, No Man’s Land and NIA Centre, and worked with choreographers Dalia El Abad (Egypt), Christina Towle (USA/France), MziyandaMancam (South Africa), Karen Kaeja (Kaeja D’dance), Bakari E. Lindsay (COBA), Kevin Ormsby (Kashedance), De-Napoli Clarke (RJC Dance, UK), Chester Whitmore (L.A), and the late Eleo Pomare (NYC). Lua facilitates dance/theatre workshops for many organizations and schools: Prologue for the Arts (at North Albion), Driftwood & Harbourfront Community Centre, Recognize the Real, YAG, Art Starts, Falstaff Girls Club, Daystrom Summer camp, Firgrove P.S., Eastdale High school, and Rosedale Heights, to name a few. She was awarded one of 12 spots reserved for outstanding dancers in the Choreographers Lab/ Community Arts Practice (Jacob’s Pillow/2008/US) and the Neighbourhood Arts Network BMO SEEDS FUND(2013). Shayenne has served as board member of Dusk Dances and on the juries of the 2009 Ultimate Dance War competition in Ottawa, the Ontario & Toronto Arts Councils and the 2012/13 Doras.



Rubena Sinha is a storyteller based in Toronto, Ontario, who uses her extensive knowledge and experience of South Asian myth and dance to weave stories of life, love, heroes and demons. Using movement and text, Rubena creates a world in which the listener encounters talking animals, her family members, and gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Her stories are often interwoven to incorporate her own personal experience as an immigrant.


A graduate of the West Bengal Academy of Dance, Drama and Music, Rubena has extensive knowledge of the classical art and dance forms of North India. Over the last 30 years she has created many cross-cultural performances that reflect her own training in South Asian classical dance forms such as bharatanatyam, manipuri, kathak, odissi and others. Founder and Artistic Director of Fusion Dance Theatre for many years, Rubena began her training in dance theatre in India under the direction of the internationally renowned Udaya Shankar. In 1994 Rubena took a year-long sabbatical in northern India and Botswana and returned with a new-found knowledge of the ancient puppetry traditions of Bengal. The dramatic revival of classic and folk puppet drama in India sparked a new desire to focus on the genre of storytelling for the last number of years. With her move to Toronto, Rubena’s attention on storytelling has become her main focus, and has been rewarded with a recent Ontario Arts Council grant to support her next creative cycle of storytelling repertoire development.



Shameema Soni is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who is comfortable singing in various genres and styles of music. She was born in South Africa and came to Canada at the age of two. She developed a love of music through her mother, a groundbreaking, non-white opera star during apartheid in South Africa. Shameema’s talents can be heard on Juno-nominated CDs and live performances as an actor, singer, pianist and percussionist. Some projects she has been a part of include Punjabi by Nature, Proyecto Urbano, Manjar Consort and Pacande to name a few. She has toured widely across Canada and the United States. Shameema was an actor, singer and dancer in the Mirvish Production of The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God by Djanet Sears, nominated for several Dora Awards. She has been teaching music for over 25 years and currently teaches at her home studio and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. She is developing a world music program for children and offers it to schools and community centres.



Nick Teehan is a multi-faceted songwriter, performer and recording artist of an intriguing diversity and mindset. His works range from tear-jerking earnest balladry, gasps of blues-infused lament, and absurdist whimsy. Hallelujah Ho Ho Ho, a collaborative effort released with songwriters Kelsey McNulty and Joe Ernewein in Decemeber of 2013, features of swath of original holiday classics from Joseph the Cuckold (“Joe’s Lament”, Kelsey McNulty) to post-recession shopping-mall cheer (“Hallelujah Ho Ho Ho”, Nick Teehan) and even a good old-fashioned Christmas murder ballad (“Pines”, Joe Ernewein). Teehan is currently in the works on the official follow-up to his critically acclaimed full-length debut There is Not a Snake (2012).

 A natural singer, his voice draws comparisons ranging from Tom Waits, “an early Rufus Wainwright” (NOW Magazine), and “Ben Folds meets Matt Dusk (Torontoist). Originally from Oshawa, Teehan loves Toronto where he now resides. ] You’ll often find him scribbling song lyrics on napkins at greasy overnight diners or singing to himself on the Wallace Bridge. Teehan is well known in Toronto clubs for his compelling live performances, the raucous blend of his unconventional instrumentation mixing with his complex and tuneful arrangements.

 His developing projects include a musical based on his song “Racoon” (#1 Toronto Star Anti-Hit List, 2012) with singer/actor/playwright Terra Hazelton (Jeff Healey, Fubar 2). Teehan has also recently launched a podcast entitled Sing the Flick with Phil and Nick, where he and guitarist Philip George Miles dissect popular film and write spontaneous new theme songs available on iTunes, and at @SingtheFlick on twitter.



Over the last decade and more, Maryem Tollar has built a reputation as a performer who can live and thrive in a variety of milieus. She was born in Egypt and raised in Canada with frequent sojourns in the Middle East. She performs classical and traditional Arabic music as well as her own original music. She was a featured performer, playing ‘Ariana’ in R. Murray Schafer’s Dora Award-winning piece, The Children’s Crusade, and has toured across Canada with a variety of projects including her own ensemble; Christos Hatzis’ multimedia project, Constantinople and his large scale work Sepulcher of Life. She was the featured vocalist in Tafelmusik’s From the Song of Songs by Christos Hatzis.

Maryem has sung on several film and television scores including the theme music for CBC Television’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and A.R.Rahman’s hit “Mayya Mayya” in the Bollywood movie Guru. Her CD Cairo to Toronto was nominated for a 2009 Juno Award in the world music category. She is the featured vocalist in the 2014 juno-award winning CD Walk to the Sea with David Buchbinder’s Odessa Havana. She performed and created the live music in Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire, directed by Kelly Straughan, in May 2010, a play about 9 Iraqi women, and was nominated for a Dora Award (Outstanding ensemble cast). In 2011, Maryem’s ensemble was featured in a concert series at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. She provided live music for Natasha Greenblatt’s play The Peacemaker in the 2013 NextStage festival. Maryem Tollar’s music can be found here.



Diana Tso is a graduate of Jacques Lecoq’s École Internationale de Théâtre (France) and the University of Toronto (B.A. Honours in Literature). She is a storyteller, actor, writer, poet, and Artist in Education, and has worked with diverse theatres across Canada and internationally for almost 15 years in English and Chinese. Favourite storytelling co-creations and performances include and by the way, Miss…(Theatre Direct/Urge), which received a Dora Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble and Outstanding Production for Young Audiences. Her Monkey Queen, Journey to the East, inspired by Wu Cheng-En’s Monkey King in his 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West, premiered at the 32nd Toronto Festival of Storytelling in 2010. She continues to perform tis story at festivals, schools and libraries. Other storytelling credits include libraries and schools for the Chinese New Year and Asian Heritage Month, 1001 Friday Nights, Luminato (2009) New Wave Series, the Royal Ontario Museum. Her play Red Snow, inspired by survivors of China’s 1937 Nanjing Holocaust, premiered at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2012. As an Artist in the Community, she works with Jumblies Theatre.



Cybèle Young creates sculptural works from Japanese papers, and incorporates print media and film in her practice. Since her studies at OCAD, she has been awarded over twenty grants and awards, and has received critical acclaim in such publications as Art in America and the New York Times. Young has mounted over 20 solo exhibitions and 30 group shows, and is included in numerous annual art fairs. Her work resides in major collections around the world. She is the author and illustrator of several children’s books, and won the Governor General’s Award for illustration in 2011 for her book Ten Birds. In 2011 she received a Canada Council four-month residency in Paris. Cybèle lives with her husband and two children in Toronto. She is represented by Forum Gallery in New York. Visit her website at