Skip to content
Sponsored Content

Emerging folk musicians to showcase their talent at upcoming April performance

The Emerging Artists Showcase is free to attend on April 27th

This story is made possible through the support of Housser's Paint and Wallpaper as part of OrilliaMatters' Community Leaders Program

On April 27th, St. Paul's Centre in Orillia will be filled with fresh music and a sense of electricity and excitement as ten bands take the stage to compete for a spot at the Mariposa Folk Festival in July.

Starting in 2010 as a way to discover emerging folk music to share with the Mariposa audience, The Mariposa Folk Festival's Emerging Artists Showcase has become a launching pad for many careers. This year, 291 Canadian artists applied to perform, but only ten were lucky enough to be selected.

"It blows you away the amount of pent-up talent out there that is just looking for their first break," says Chris Hazel, manager of the Mariposa Festival, adding that although only three of the ten acts will be selected to play at the Festival in July, they're already all winners because they beat the odds of being selected for the Showcase.

Rebekah Hawker — who describes her music as between the intersection of folk and country — has been applying to perform at the Showcase for the past four years and will take the stage this year.

"...To keep working at something, to get better, and to just have that acknowledged, it feels really good," Hawker says about being selected. "Honestly, it's a nice little pause. I don't think I get to pause very often and be like, "Hey, I think I might be getting better, and this is resonating with people, which is the whole goal."

Originally from Barrie, ON, Hawker has known about the festival since she was a kid and is excited to connect with and play for the Mariposa folk community.

Sammy Johnston of Sammy & the Band will also be playing at the Emerging Artists Showcase and says it feels great to be grouped alongside the other amazing musicians chosen to play.

"I've seen so many musicians that I've looked up to at folk fest in years past, from the big stage to the beer tent, so it would be amazing to be a part of that. I remember meeting the Larkin Poe girls after their show in 2018 and feeling extremely inspired. We're so lucky to have this happen in Orillia," Johnston says.

Bandmember Jennie Davis adds that she's personally stoked because she's been attending the festival since she was 11, and it has always been a dream of hers to perform as an artist at the festival.

Some of the bands that previously played and won the Emerging Artists Showcase, including Union Duke, Cat Clyde, James Gray, and Doghouse Orchestra, will also perform at the Mariposa festival this summer, a testament to how the Showcase can have a lasting impact on music careers.

"Union Duke won the showcase back in 2013, and they've gone on to be one of the Mariposa Folk Festival fan favourites, with people going out of their way to see them," Hazel says.

James Gray, one of the four artists selected from the Emerging Artists Showcase in 2019 to play at the Mariposa Festival that year, says he's extremely grateful for festivals like Mariposa that give emerging folk singers a broader audience.

"It's not based on your clout or your experience in the music industry; it's based on what is coming into their ears," Gray says. Connecting with other artists and people at the festival and having that community behind him has also helped with his career, he says, and he's excited to be returning to play at the festival this summer.

All ages are welcome to The Emerging Artists Showcase that is free of charge on April 27th at St. Paul's Centre in Orillia starting at 1 p.m.

To learn more about all the artists performing, visit the website here.