An illuminating experience! Two girls’ perspectives on the Pop Divas Program

On Saturday June 19th I had the privilege of escorting seven passionate young journalists to a panel they moderated as part of the Luminato festival, called Pop Divas. The panel was part of the festival’s Illuminations program, and the culmination of a few months of work. A group of young women including new and seasoned members of the Catch da Flava magazine collective participated in a series of workshops held at Focus where they met and discussed the art of music journalism and pop diva specific reportage with professional music journalists, practiced researching, writing and editing articles, and developed in person interview skills. These skills were applied in the development of their articles which are being published in a special edition of Catch da Flava magazine, and in the prep work and facilitation they did for the Illuminations panel.

Some of Saturday’s panellists the girls had met before in their workshop sessions. Jody Rosen, music writer and critic for and Rolling Stone, and Globe and Mail editor and critic Carl Wilson were there, as well as a new face for the girls, Jyoti Rana who is the co-founder of the Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Festival of Toronto.

As the new youth outreach worker for Catch da Flava magazine, it was awesome to laugh, share skills, and a good many pizza dinners with the participants, and with the Associate Director of Education and Outreach for Luminato, Jessica Dargo-Caplan in the weeks leading up to the panel.
Thanks to Jess and the girls for teaching me about Pop Divas! I look forward to learning much much more from all of you guys as we sharpen our journalistic skills and create some more great issues of the magazine.

*Sarah Feldbloom*
Youth Outreach Worker for Catch da Flava

The Luminto Illuminations Panel was a success. As a participant it was great to hear such interesting and outspoken experts like Jody, Carl and Jyoti in the music and entertainment field. We talked about issues concerning contemporary arts and culture and Canada. Illuminations provided an opportunity to connect the speakers together from different disciplines and backgrounds to join on stage and explore issues concerning contemporary arts and culture in Canada. There was an intimate and interactive connection with the audience to answer questions as they shared their creative approach to Pop Divas.

We explored the Pop Diva genre together and the art of music writing. We all had different and unique opinions about Pop Divas. Before the panel, we were given questions that we had thought up together during meetings. I first saw my question when we got to the venue before the event. It was, “What do you think defines a Diva?” The follow up to that question was, “what do you think gives them their Divaness?” Since I was the first Diva to ask a question, I felt that I had to put a twist on the question in order to hype up the audience. So, I quickly revised it to fit my personality. I talked more about each of the Divas we wrote about and made the question more charismatic. One of the other young Diva writers was practicing her question in front of me during rehearsal. Her question didn’t suit her shining personality. Therefore, I told her to put a spin on her question and show her personality. She also tweaked her question and asked it as her MC persona, DJ Amy and the Mix. It was a great question and everyone in the room laughed at her charisma and fun personality.

I am proud of every one of the girls, including the shy ones, who had the courage to face their fears to speak in front of an audience. Personally, it felt great getting up in front of everyone and asking questions. In the Diva’s Pop Writing group, there are many South Asian young writers. Therefore, it was a great addition to hear a woman’s voice and Jyoti’s insight on the Bollywood Pop Diva music scene. Jyoti even told us to hit up one of North America’s largest free outdoor South Asian concerts this year, Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Festival of Toronto. She offered the young women the opportunity to critique the show and develop our writing skills by covering the festival and conducting interviews with the performers. I believe the young Pop Diva writing group learned a lot not only about writing articles but also other talents such as, character development, public speaking, critiquing music and networking. My favorite question was, Do you think Pop Divas set good examples for young girls and young women? The speakers were saying how Divas are not out there to be role models. I also loved when we watched and analyzed different music videos. We got to watch classic videos from Diva such as Aretha Franklin and current Diva Beyonce. We explored themes such as; male violence, love and empowerment. Overall, I am really proud of all the girls who were on the Illuminations panel as we all had a great learning experience.

*Michele Peter*
Participant in Pop Divas Program
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