Janice Jo Lee, aka Sing Hey, is a contemporary folk artist of Korean ancestry. She is a folk-soul singer-songwriter, spoken word poet, actor and playwright from Kitchener, on Haldimand Tract treaty territory. Lee is an award-winning performer known for being disarmingly hilarious and off-the-cuff. On stage she creates looping landscapes with her voice, guitar, trumpet and Korean jangu drum. Lee is a hard femme queer radical and is interested in using art to build flourishing communities based in justice and joy. Her latest compositions are Ancestor Songs, contemporary jazz-folk melodies full of truth and power. She is working on her upcoming albums Ancestor Song, Lonely is the Lullaby, and a new bouffon musical satire about the patriarchy.
Her one-woman musical satire Will You Be My Friend was developed and produced by Green Lights in Kitchener in 2017. The show made its Toronto debut at Theatre Passe Muraille in October 2018 to critical praise from The Toronto Star, Mooney on Theatre and an NNNN rating from Now Magazine. In recent years she has toured Canada with her music and poetry performing at ArtsWells (Wells, BC), Vancouver Poetry Slam, Hillside (Guelph), In the Soil (St Catharines), Hot Damn It’s A Queer Slam (Toronto), Kultrun (Kitchener), Home County (London), and Pervers/cité (Montréal).
In Waterloo Region, Lee was voted Best Performance Artist four years running from 2016 to 2019. She was the City of Kitchener’s Artist in Residence in 2015. She is the founding artistic director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam and created its first Spoken Word Residency program for emerging professionals. Janice organizes with Groundings Collective and serves as National Director of SpeakNorth.
“Lee has a mischievous twinkle in her eye and a marvellous spontaneity”– Now Toronto
“Lee is a remarkable, irresistible performer” – My Gay Toronto
“A charismatic ball of energy, quirky jokes and charming music”- Ricepaper
2020 – Jan 11 Toronto Poetry Slam Feature, Drake Hotel, ON
2020 – Jan 16 CJRU Live at Ryerson University, Toronto ON
2020 – Jan 20 Brock Pride, St Catharines, ON
2020 – March 7 Island Mountain Arts, Wells BC
2020 – March 15 Golden, BC – Cancelled
2020 – April 4 Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, ON – Cancelled
2020 – April 19 Verses Festival of Words, Vancouver BC – Cancelled
2020 – April 25 Ottawa Grassroots Festival – Cancelled
2020 – April 7 Victorious Voices Poetry Festival, Victoria, BC – Online Show
2020 – May 8 Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival, Saskatoon, SK – Online Show
2020 – May 16, Hullabaloo Poetry Festival, Surrey BC – Online Workshop
I am a folk artist. An artist of the people! A storyteller. It is my responsibility as a folk artist to affirm our contemporary stories, emotions and ideas through art and carry these stories onward. Art is my tool to build just and joyful communities that are as free as possible from systemic oppression. My art comforts the struggling and challenges political complacency. As a writer and performing artist, I combine my literature, music and theatre background with my political activism to create art that engages through its truth, comedy, lyricism and power. Genres and artistic disciplines do not limit me when creating songs, poems, scenes and stories. On stage, it is important for me to demonstrate power in embodied performances, unrelenting honesty, rhythm and humility.
I am constantly learning and thinking critically about my position and cultural context within systems of oppression. I aim to decolonize myself and my art practice from oppressive ideas and practices. My art is subject to criticism and conversation. I do my best, allow room for error, and try to be kind to myself. As an artist and role model, I listen to and strive to be accountable to my community.
I seek communities and audiences where my best self, vitality, spirit and art are life-affirming. I want what I offer as a person to act as a spark or opening to emotional truth, social truth, untapped or forgotten joy, and self power. I seek to create an open space which reminds us that human connection is full of beauty, wonder, and a life worth living.