T.O.'s most inspiring women of 2017: Lido Pimienta

A look at 12 incredible Toronto women who inspired us, provoked us, educated us and otherwise made us proud in 2017


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Pimienta and her son live in the Dufferin Grove neighbourhood

© John Paille

As 2017 comes to a close, we are honouring Toronto's most inspirational women of the year. Take a look at our 12-part series highlighting the changemakers who are pushing for women's rights, exposing the inequalities in our city, achieving excellence in what they do and giving back through advocacy, activism, philanthropy and more.

The singer: Lido Pimienta

If you haven’t heard Columbian-Canadian Lido Pimienta’s music (she won the 2017 Polaris Music Prize for her incredible breakout album La Papessa), you may have seen some of the vitriol over how she operates from the stage, bringing brown folk to the front and blasting that message from the mic like a boss.   

Let’s get this conversation straight — a powerhouse of an artist wants to shape the room such that brown folk move to the front for 30 minutes, and the “offended” alarm lights up red? Seriously? People get angry because they need to step back for 30 minutes while their friends move forward? If you are one of the offended when asked to step back, honey, get yourself a glass of water from the back of the room and cool out to the sick beats. Enjoy the momentary change in society’s narrative. You’ll be back at the front of the line as soon as you leave the club so chill. 

The first time I saw Lido Pimienta play, we were sharing a bill. I was struck by her confidence. She writhed and rapped and sung and danced and twisted herself up with the mic cable, centred all the while in her lyric and in rhythm. My ego got a bit wilted — “Why can’t I have that kind of confidence?” — and at the same time I got power from her strength. 

To me, this is the mark of a profound artist, someone who stirs emotion and unveils internal conflict and is planted deep inside their work, unfettered, making us as the audience feel something inside ourselves.

For some people, I guess those feelings are uncomfortable. For others, we are empowered by her power.

Next on the list: Dr. Danielle Martin by Marilyn Emery

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