Master of All Arts

Ask artist, photographer, jazz musician and carpenter James C. Swartz if he’s a jack of all trades, and he’ll answer your question before the words leave your mouth. “A jack of all trades is a master of none,” he says with a steely gaze. Swartz is no master of none. Take a stroll through his house and you’ll see he is a man of many … [Read more...]

She Can Carry A Tune — With Chutzpah

When York Mills singer and actor Gabi Epstein was asked by an elderly woman in Pender Island, British Columbia how she has the moxie to get on stage and belt out tunes without a single inhibition, her answer was simple. “I told her I grew up with chutzpah,” Epstein says with a snicker. For those not familiar with the term, ‘chutzpah’ is the … [Read more...]

Growing Up At Degrassi

For North York actor Melinda Shankar, it was an easy decision to move to Toronto from Ottawa to kick-start her career at the age of 16. The star of shows such as MuchMusic’s Degrassi: The Next Generation and YTV’s How To Be Indie knew she had to move to the big smoke to realize her dreams. “Moving out of home when you’re in grade 10 is pretty … [Read more...]

Drawing For Hope

When Leaside resident and children’s illustrator Michael Martchenko is looking for inspiration, all he has to do is look in his own backyard. Literally. “If I need a nice big tree, I just go out back,” quips the award-winning artist, who has collaborated with children’s author Robert Munsch for dozens of books, including classics such as The … [Read more...]

…And All That Jazz

He’s performed in three continents in one year, visiting countries such as Japan, Colombia and the Bahamas. But for jazz musician Steve Koven, there’s nowhere quite like home sweet home. The pianist and composer has proudly lived in East Toronto most of his life, formerly in Leaside and now residing in East York near Donlands Avenue and … [Read more...]

Change In The Cards

Sitting in a quaint Jamaican restaurant on Broadview Avenue called the Caribbean Dutchpot, affable singer, songwriter and actor Arlene Duncan doesn’t stand out at all. But if she’s walking along Danforth Avenue, there’s a good chance someone will pick her out of a crowd. “I find that if I put anything around my head, people recognize me … [Read more...]

Novel Probes Story Of Home Children

When author Sandra Joyce first learned that her grandmother had effectively orphaned her father and sent him to live in Canada from Britain because she “lost interest”, she was profoundly disturbed. But when she did more research into the story of home children, who were sent to Commonwealth countries from Britain to alleviate a labour shortage, … [Read more...]

Amadeus Choir Makes Sweet Music

Put 12-year-old award-winning composer Allison Winn alongside the Amadeus or Bach Children’s Choir and she’ll sing her heart out. If she’s in the recording booth with broadcaster Andy Barrie in the CBC’s studio at 5 a.m., the scene might be a little bit different. “They said here, sing your song for us a capella, to this tiny little kid, and … [Read more...]

Brick Works Film Lauded

Filmmaker Catherine Annau is determined to let Torontonians know about the Evergreen Brick Works, one brick at a time. Annau, the writer, director and executive producer behind Brick by Brick, The Story of The Evergreen Brick Works, recently received the award of excellence from Heritage Toronto in the media category. The award recognizes … [Read more...]

Black Box History

Prepare to see Canada’s longest-serving prime minister as you’ve never seen him before. VideoCabaret’s The Life and Times of Mackenzie King, explores the behind the scenes life of King, from his romps with married women to his ardent belief in spirituality and séances. It’s performed in a format called black box theatre, which features an … [Read more...]