I'm Swadhi, the World Music Archive Coordinator here at OIMA for the summer. For the next month and a half, my days will consist of listening to tons of awesome music, contacting artists across Ontario, and helping build a digital library of songs to be accessible and available to all for years to come!
Yep, it's a pretty sweet summer job. And not to sound corny, but I actually find my work quite meaningful too.
I was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in Canada, so the idea of home will always be a little complicated for me. On the one hand, I'm Canadian to the through and through - I share Canada's ideals of freedom, equality, democracy, and peace. On the other hand, there'll always be an important part of me that is decidedly Sinhalese, looking back nostalgically to that tiny tropical island in the Indian Ocean. What I love about the arts, especially music, is that the complication of where I "really belong" ceases to be an issue.
People always say that music transcends boundaries - I definitely think this is true. When I listen to a song, it doesn't matter where it comes from or where I come from. I can be Sinhalese or Canadian or anything else, depending on where the song takes me. I find that music makes it okay to be many things, or nothing, or even everything at once.
Ontario is such a diverse place - the most multicultural province in Canada, home to one half of new immigrants. We have people here from 200 countries who speak as many as 130 languages. And this shows in our arts sector.
But World Music - music influenced by or entirely traditional and cultural - is still pretty marginal on the grand scale. Which is odd considering that a lot of it is - well - kind of amazing.
My aim over the summer is to help draw attention to all the action taking place in Ontario's World Music scene, and to help catalogue and archive it, so that people will know about all the creativity, diversity, and general awesomeness of Ontario's music.
I'm so excited to dive into more World Music. I hope you are too!