February 11, 2023

When Sisters Speak



when sisters speak

Sydellia Ndiaye, Photo courtesy of the artist


When Sisters Speak is North America’s largest and longest-running showcase of Black, female, spoken word artists. Beautifully raw and uncensored, When Sisters Speak is a celebration of the experiences of Black women, featuring Canadian and American poets sharing the stage and their stories. Founded in 2000, When Sisters Speak continues to be curated, produced, and hosted by Scarborough Walk of Fame inductee Dwayne Morgan. 

About Dwayne Morgan

Dwayne Morgan is a two-time Canadian National Poetry Slam Champion. He began his career as a spoken word artist in 1993. In 1994, he founded Up From The Roots entertainment to promote the positive artistic contributions of African Canadian and urban-influenced artists.   

Morgan is the 2022 winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Celebration of Cultural Life award, the 2018 winner of the Sheri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award for Career Achievement in the Spoken Word and the 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2013, Morgan was inducted into the Scarborough Walk of Fame. He has received the African Canadian Achievement Award and the Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in the Arts.  

Morgan has performed for the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, the former Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean and the late leader of the NDP, Jack Layton. He has shared the stage with many of Canada’s top artists, including Russell Peters, while opening for international artist Alicia Keys and recording with Canadian artists, including Drake.  

Morgan has published fourteen books. In 2009, his work was translated into French, culminating in the book Le Making of d’un Homme. He also has nine albums of his work to his credit. In 2008, Morgan released a commemorative DVD entitled Dwayne Morgan The First Fifteen.  

About MasterPiece

International Poet MasterPiece is a seven-time award-winning performer with a broad range of work and accomplishments spanning over 20 years. As seen on Good Morning Texas, All Def Poetry, the Huffington Post, CNN, Teen Vogue, The Examiner, Essence Magazine and countless other national publications, she is a force as the following spoken word generation’s most powerful woman. 

About Shanelle Gabriel

Shanelle Gabriel is an internationally touring artist, educator and lupus warrior from Brooklyn, New York. Widely known for featuring on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, she has shared her fusion of poetry and singing on stage with artists such as Jill Scott, Nas, Mumu Fresh, Nikki Giovanni, J.Ivy and Talib Kweli. Gabriel competed in the national and individual World Poetry Slam Competitions and has penned and featured in global poetry campaigns with Pandora Music, LifeWtr and more. She recently released her third album of poetry, Things I Need to Remind Myself. She is the co-host of the HydroxychloroQueenz Podcast on living with Lupus, all while serving as the Executive Director at Urban Word: a youth organization that uses poetry and hip-hop to promote literacy and youth voice. 

About Desiree Mckenzie

Desiree Mckenzie is an award-winning poet, arts educator, national poetry slam champion, voice actor and photographer from Toronto, Canada. Her poetry and voiceover work has been featured in the CBC’s Poetic License series, When Sisters Speak, Clearco Finacial’s International Women’s Day Campaign, Kids Help Phone and Home Depot. She facilitates a range of community poetry programming for organizations like JAYU, VIBE Arts, Unity Charity, Poetry in Voice and Shakespeare in Action. In March 2021, Mckenzie released her debut spoken word EP, Wet Hair, now available on streaming platforms. In December 2022, she will be opening for Rupi Kaur on her world tour stop at Massey Hall. 

About Sydellia Ndiaye

Sydellia Ndiaye is an internationally recognized spoken word artist who started in what is considered home to some of the world’s best slam poets, Chicago. The Senegalese American artist has touched souls all over the world by performing her spoken word in North America, Europe and Africa.  

Ndiaye has competed in several competitions throughout her career. She was one of the top eight finalists in the “RISE AND FLOW” Emerging Artist Competition in 2020, organized by R.I.S.E Edutainment and the winner of the April 2020 Toronto Poetry Slam hosted by one of the largest poetry organizations in Toronto. She is currently the champion of the Toronto Poetry Slam 2022 and the second-place winner of the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, a national poetry competition held in Vancouver yearly. 

Outside of Spoken Word, Ndiaye is a mental health advocate who has partnered with several mental health organizations and initiatives. She believes her destiny is to exercise the purity of speaking truth and spreading love while moving hearts and limbs through the power of the spoken word. 

About Roya Marsh

Bronx, New York native Roya Marsh is a poet, performer, educator and activist. She is the author of dayliGht and works feverishly toward Queer liberation and dismantling white supremacy. Marsh is the co-founder of the Bronx Poet Laureate, a PEN America Emerging Voices Mentor, Lamda Literary faculty and the 2021 Lotus Foundation Prize for poetry awardee.   

Her work has been featured in numerous places, including, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry Magazine, The Village Voice, NYLON, The Huffington Post, The Root, Button Poetry, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Apollo Theater, Lexus Verses and Flow, NBC, BET and The BreakBeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic. 

About Truth Is …

As a Black, Queer, mother, warrior and poet, Truth Is … takes a unique approach to talking about the intricacies of life. Their intersectional approach allows the audience to explore experiences through an empathetic and compassionate lens, fostering empowerment, community and resistance from shame.  

Truth Is … has been on a dozen national slam teams since 2006. They are the current co-artistic director of the not-for-profit arts organization Guelph Spoken Word. They have also been the past recipient of the 2018 National Poet of Honour distinction, the Min Sook Lee Labour Arts Awards and Guelph’s Top 40 under 40.   

Currently, Truth Is … set to debut their long-awaited “A Portrait of Palinoia” project, a celebration of the beauty, distinctiveness and magic of Black women in 2023.   

Dates & Times

February 11
7:30pm – Doors
8pm – 11pm

There will be a short intermission at 9pm


Harbourfront Centre Theatre

231 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario

Google Map

Keywords Performance