Last weekend, the Red Lake Family Entertainment Series hosted local musician Jada Siwak for a musical performance.
The show was granted money from Evolution Mines, about 66 people were in attendance. The musical set included a variety of genres, including a blues song, some pop, and country songs. There were also three French songse, with editing help from Agathe Breton-Plouffe, who is francophone, and Kate Polle, who is a translator by trade.
A big theme in the songs is Healthy Feelings, which will be the title of Siwak’s first album, to be released this summer.
“I have a B.Sc. in Psychology, and two young children, so creating dialogue for feelings and emotions is near and dear to my heart,” says Siwak. “What better way to get those messages across to children than in a catchy tune?”
The show was put together by entertainment series board member Renee Bausch, after she had heard that Siwak had been writing songs for children. Siwak and Bausch had met a couple of times prior to arranging the show to discuss what the performance would look like.
Bausch has been working to incorporate more local artists into the entertainment series lineups and had let Siwak know that there would be a place in their season for her before she even had an entire show's worth of songs .
“She has always been very supportive of the arts, and local artists. She is very positive and works very hard to make sure everything is in order for these shows,” says Siwak. “There is so much behind the scenes work that has to happen to have show for just over an hour, and Renee's on top of it.”
Siwak wrote all of the original children's songs, sang the melody, played the guitar and cello in some songs for the show. Breton-Plouffe Polle sang harmonies, and Ryan Russ played lead guitar.
“Our harmonies come together pretty quickly, but not without a lot of work and practice,” says Siwak. “We work so well together, and are very good friends.”
Siwak has been singing with Agathe and Kate as the Three Pitches for over six years now. Russ has been playing for a long time, but this was his first show on a stage.
“He was unfaltering! Ryan is a dedicated musician, it was very impressive,” says Siwak.
The set also included a children's choir that Siwak recently started, called the Super Singers. The kid's choir was hosted by the Red Lake Library and were practicing on Wednesdays there. This was something Siwak was doing free of charge, and is considering doing another round of practices in June to possibly sing at the Canada Day Celebrations, if there is enough interest.
“They came up and sang with us for two songs, and they did really well,” says Siwak.
Kyrsten Procyk with K.P.s Dreams Dance Academy was at the event to teach the kids and adults dance moves to three of Siwak’s original songs.
“She has a wonderful way with the children, and makes the learning fun! It was wonderful to see my songs come alive with movement, and the kids seemed really engaged,” says Siwak.
Siwak is originally from Kenora, but came to Red Lake in 2012. Her, now, husband was working at the mine and Siwak took a job at the Red Lake Cochenour Memorial Hospital. There she is the charge technologist for the Diagnostic Imaging department, doing X-Rays and ultrasounds.
She started the Red Lake Coffee Houses in 2016, which is a regular event for established and emerging musicians to come together and preform.
“I started it because if I don't perform for a while, I start to get nervous on stage. So, I wanted to keep the nerves at bay by regularly performing,” says Siwak.
Growing up in Kenora she took voice lessons, sang in choirs and played the flute. She took the flute into her university years, and is still able to play it. She taught herself how to play the guitar, and very recently picked up the cello.
“It is a pure joy to play! So, I have added it to a couple of my songs,” she says.
Over the years, she has also had the chance to play with the instrumental group, Strings N Such, the Red Lake Choir Aurora Chorealis, and our three-part harmony group the Three Pitches.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Siwak noticed a big lack of Coffee Houses and performances in Red Lake. She had two young children at home and was on her maternity leave.
“So, I just ended up singing to them all day. Finally, I noticed that some of the songs I was singing were pretty catchy,” says Siwak.
As things started opening back up, Siwak began doing live music for schools and events. When she was doing an on-line show with the Kenora Catholic School Board for the Early Years Arts Festival, and Rhonda Beckman was there doing feelings through art, which was what inspired her to write a few songs, including Healthy Feelings.
“Writing songs is truly an exhilarating experience for me. It is very organic, and never forced,” says Siwak. “I feel so fortunate to be able to share these songs and messages with the children and adults.”
Siwak now has 36 finished songs, seven of which are in French, and more unfinished songs that are in progress.
Siwak has been preforming for the daycare and the Red Lake schools as well as some Kenora schools to share some of my songs. She was the Artist in Residence at the St John's school, and a regular at the Red Lake Early Years Arts Festival.
“The kids are always very enthusiastic about seeing live music and the topics bring a great discussion,” says Siwak.
Siwak is currently working on many things for her musical career. She plans to perform at a couple festivals this summer, and release her first album 'Healthy Feelings.'
She is also working on a music video to one of her songs called 'I'm the Luckiest Mom', which she hopes to release on Mother's Day. This will include clips of many mothers from Red Lake and Kenora, with their children having fun and just loving each other.
“The catch line for the song is, ‘most mommas think that their kid's the best. Guess what? They're right! Every mom's the luckiest’," says Siwak.
Siwak has also written songs about superheroes, unicorns and dinosaurs.
Her Saturday show also included a preview of her first children's book, called ‘The Yuck Bug; Lilo and the meanie meanie blues.'
“The kids seemed really attentive while listening to how Lilo's friends caught the yuck bug and were a little mean,” says Siwak.
The book teaches children how to get rid of the yuck bug. Siwak did the illustrations for the book, with some help from her children, Aurora and Orion. She is self-publishing this book, and pans to release it later this year.
“My goal is to share these songs and books with children and adults, to help create dialogue around our feelings and emotions, and to increase vocabulary around these topics as well. I think there's something in them for everyone,“ says Siwak.