The ZION performance series is a safe space for creators from various backgrounds to show their talents in poetry, music, performance art, and storytelling. Curated by Celine Caruso, the purpose of ZION is to create a platform where minorities, particularly minority youths, can be given the confidence and support to explore their artistic identities.
Zion Open Mic features performances from artists such as Mahem, a Pakistani poet who shares her experience of what it means to be a young woman living in the Canadian prairies. Through poetry, she articulates the experiences of several marginalized groups, as her unique global experience lends insights into the intricacies of identity politics in the modern world. Mahem’s distinct style and approach to her art offers catharsis for audience members who may share her experience.
The series also features the angelic vocals of Ada, a singer who takes the audience on a journey of spiritual healing through her stories about Thanksgiving Sundays in Nigerian churches.
In conversation with performing artists, Celine Caruso has found that ZION has grown into an initiative much more impactful than she thought possible. ZION creates a positive environment for young artists to express themselves and explore the deepest levels of their lived experiences without fear of judgement. ZION also allows people to find shared communities, often guiding them to crucial opportunities both within and outside of the arts community.
ZION is a portal into a universe of artists and storytellers from diverse backgrounds, with a common goal to create, share, and hear one another’s stories. These performances are spiritual, entertaining, funny, heartfelt, and, most importantly, truthful. The series continually strives to create and maintain an authentic space that nurtures the opening of hearts and the celebration of life and community.
The ZION series as a performance art space has impacted its audience and artists deeply, providing opportunities to support local talent and cultivate a network of other singers, songwriters, poets, and orators. The result is an open and enthusiastic invitation to experience profound art—a call to hear the stories that these artists have to share.
Currently, ZION collaborates with various individuals, organizations, and associations. The Moth Cafe, The University of Alberta’s Black Students’ Association, Amplify Festival, and Ladies Corner Canada are but a few of ZION’s valued associates.
An upcoming performance takes place on November 12, 2020. This projected poetry and art show is in collaboration with The Moth Café and Subsidy. Submissions are still open for anyone interested in contributing to ZION’s truly unique efforts. For more information on submissions or any other inquiries, they can be contacted through email (thezionseries[at]gmail.com) or through direct messaging on their Instagram.
— By Merlin Uwalaka
SAY IT LOUD! is a national campaign for Black youth aged 14-29 that promotes Black pride and positive cultural identity through technology, entrepreneurship, social innovation, fashion, culinary, visual, literary, and performing arts.