bill withers toronto

Toronto neighbourhood treated to live performance of Bill Withers' classic song

Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sushine When She's Gone" seems like an appropriate song for a live performance given to a Toronto neighbourhood during physical distancing.

Though the skies have been sunny this spring, the streets are empty, so the organizations Jamii, Building Roots, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and Canadian Stage have teamed up to present live performances to the community.

Soulpepper Theatre partnered with Jamii on April 3 to co-present Jeremiah Sparks performing the classic tune in the Esplanade neighbourhood.

Video by Nick Kachibaia captures the haunting performance as Sparks rolls through the deserted community while singing and playing piano. He's carried by Jamii's Kisanii Hub, a travelling mobile theatre that "delivered" early evening musical performances to residential streets in the Esplanade neighbourhood.

The streets of Toronto are still quiet and it still feels unreal. One of the things that bring joy to our core is gone: laughter of kids in playgrounds, chasing each other in parks, holding cute hands with parents when walking through our neighbourhood. Children, in this pandemic, have been granted the title of “silent carriers”. How do they feel about it? How do we care for them beyond the challenging new experience of online schooling? Jamii’s role is to identify needs in the neighbourhood and address them. @isorinemarc ,Jamii’s founder, is the mother of two young ones. She knows a few moments of magic can go a long way in brightening a young life. And that’s what Jamii did, with the talented Johnny Toronto: we went through the streets of our community in our Kisanii Hub for an itinerant performance intended for children. We stopped in front of homes with kids, us on the street, them on their doorsteps, and together, we filled up the streets with laughter. The rest is history. Video credits: Filmed and edited: Isorine Marc Performed by: Johnny Toronto Music: Robert Graham Kisanii Hub Rider: Raecheal Goddard Project Coordinator: Sharon Zarita Produced by: Jamii Esplanade #kisaniihub #communitycare #artsforkids #arttherapylife #arttheclown #magictricks #flattenthecurve

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The Hub has also delivered mobile performances by Domanique Grant, Leen Hamo & Iman Abdul Razzak, Sara Luey, Johnny Toronto and Alessandro Montelli.

The Kisanii Hub rolled through the area at a slow pace so residents could hear the performances from their porches, windows, front yards and sidewalks, and make noise to show their appreciation as the travelling theatre passed by.

"Jamii's role is to identify needs in the neighbourhood and address them," reads the caption to an Instagram post from Jamii. According to their website, the performance series was put together "with the intent of encouraging people to stay home, practice physical distancing and contribute to better mental health for our community members."

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