Sol One Productions

1000 Meals with 1000 Artists

About Community Projects

Community projects will often include workshops or education-based programs that are part of our general programming. These projects are meant to connect us to our community and to the artists we hope to serve by providing the support they need. 1000 Meals with 1000 Artists is the first step in this ongoing process. 

About 1000 Meals

Sharing a meal is something that is universal across all cultures. For longer than we can even document, we have been sharing meals with family, friends, loved ones, and colleagues. This project is a way to get to know the artists in our community. This is not an interview. This is not a sales pitch. This is a conversation.

See Highlights on Instagram

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for audio selections and a short summary of the conversation between our producer and each of the artists.

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Read the Artists Spotlight

For each artists, our Producer will post a short spotlight! This will include general thoughts on the conversation, topics covered and what we learned from the experience. 

1000 Meals with 1000 Artists

Artist Spotlights

Sasha Lapointe Lawless

Multidisciplinary Artist

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Sasha is a designer, visual artist and a variety of other things as he studies in Montreal and creates a variety of innovative arts projects! 

We enjoyed some delicious sandwiches at La Bottega Nicastro in the Byward Market, an Italian grocery store with a hidden gem sandwich shop at the back. As we had the best sandwiches in Ottawa, we discussed Sasha's current project, a chair he designed that takes a look at the design industry and the buyers market. We talked a lot about what goes into making purchases in life and how Sasha is trying to use his art to make a difference by creating conversations around these kinds of topics. Consumers, designers, manufacturing and everything else that goes into creating the things we want or need.

Sasha describes himself as someone who is trying to do a little bit of everything. He has learned about a wide range of arts disciplines and looks for the idea first and the tool he'll use second. This has given him a very interesting insight and approach to the creative process. He has an idea, and then thinks about what medium he wants to use to get that idea to move forward. He's dabbled in a wide range of visual art forms, he's worked on films, graphic design and some technical aspects as well. 

As Sasha studies he may find one area of more interest than another, but this method has given him a wide range of skills that I think will help him create any kind of arts project he wants. 

Benjamin Rusasa

Cinematographer / Director

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As you read this, Benjamin is currently on set in Ottawa filming a short film that is very special to him. Benjamin describes himself as a Cinematographer and Director who likes to tell the "untold stories", which he defined for me as things we may know about, but are not discussing enough or more importantly not seeing in film.

At our meal we talked a lot about his film, his process and what drives him as a young filmmaker who is not only producing and directing his own short films but is also building towards his first feature. Benjamin had a wonderful opportunity to make a film with CBC as part of youth film program and was part of the recent Ottawa Youth Film Festival. From there he has not stopped creating his own work and I don't expect he'll ever stop. 

I enjoyed discussing all the behind the scenes aspects of creating his film, but also what happens next. He gave me some really cool insights into the world of film festival submissions and the long timelines you need in post production just to get your film seen at various festivals in Canada or in other parts of the world. 

Keep your eyes open for films from Benjamin Russa, he is passionate, determined and focused on making connections with others to tell great stories. To me, that is exactly what you need to be successful in any art form.

Zach Porter


Music Producer

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Zach is a Music Producer, Sound Designer for film, Sound Tech for Film and Theatre and an artist dedicated to finding space for new technologies in the performing arts. 

This meal might have some of the best sound, because Zach brought his own equipment to our meal to ensure the best quality of sound. Zach knows how important sound is and takes it very seriously! 

Our conversation ended up touching on music, theatre and film as we discussed the performing arts scene in Ottawa. 

We got into the challenges that I've noticed in the Ottawa arts scene and I got to pick Zach's brain a bit on if he's noticed the same things I have: A lot of amazing artists, doing amazing work, but with a lot of silos that build up within their own small networks. Zach and I discuss collaboration, the challenges that brings but also the rewards. We also go back to my favourite topic recently, the lack of venues!

Zach brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in a field that I find to be the most important aspect of the performing arts. Without a working sound system...well its obvious what happens. Through music, theatre and film, sound is an element you don't often think about until it goes wrong. Zach is one of the brilliant designers that help bring meaning to moments you see on stage or on screen while also ensuring the simplest of moments is captured and of course heard.

Ellie Floyd

Artist / Educator

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I had a lovely conversation with Ellie that ended up expanding to include education far beyond just arts education. Ellie is a visual artist who completed an amazing mural project with a local school and is looking to continue to engage young artists. 

It was really interesting to dive into the world of an arts educator. Ellie stated early she had a hard time calling herself an artist, which I quickly addressed. Ellie uses art as a tool to communicate ideas, pass along knowledge and open others up to self expression. If that's not an artist, well then my series has been a waste of time. 

It was nice to talk to someone on the other side of the coin, so to speak. I have had to pleasure of sharing a meal with a lot of younger artists, and it was really nice to chat with an educator to get a different perspective on art. Ellie is one of those teachers that if we had more of, the world would be a different place. Here I sat with a teacher who goes above and beyond to engage students and young artists. This is something that stays with you as you age and I can say without a doubt that it leaves a lasting impressions to see a teacher care so much about the subjects they teach. 

Ellie does a variety of visual arts, but with a passion and focus on murals. I look forward to seeing more work from Ellie in this field as she keeps looking for schools to partner with, helping to bring more art to students, giving them new ways to express, feel, share and grow. 

Taiya Peckham

Actor / Theatre Performer

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Taiya is a local actor and theatre performer who spent her childhood performing plays for friends and family as well as founding the drama club at her school.

In the past year, she got an amazing opportunity to join 100 Watt Productions. This is a local theatre company that provides a professional theatre experience to youth performers. Through collective creation, they create their own theatre piece over the course of several months, being paid for their time in this unique after school opportunity. Their current show, Stuff, runs May 1-4 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

Taiya's passion for theatre is quite clear to me. At a young age she is gaining such a wonderful amount of experience that could help shape exactly what she does in the future. Her and I discussed this point a lot. What 100 Watt Productions is doing is of immense value, as at a young age we are expected to pick a career or job path without ever experiencing what that is like. 100 Watt is giving Taiya a chance to see if professional theatre is the career path for her. 

Taiya said that no matter what happens, theatre will remain part of her life. This could be a job, a career, a hobby, or even as a patron. No matter what, Taiya's drive and passion for theatre is clear and I know she'll do wonderful things in present and future. 

Colin Ziraldo

Cinematographer / filmmaker

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Colin and I have been hoping to connect for a few weeks now and it was perfect timing to share a meal ahead of the screening of Twelve Tales which is coming up on Saturday April 13, in Ottawa. 

Colin describes himself a a cinematographer first and foremost and I felt I gained some great insight into this area of film from our conversation. We chatted about the various relationships you build in arts production, including the good and the bad, but for Colin mainly the good as he and Ben Bergeron, also featured in 1000 Meals, have built a strong working relationshop that ended up producing a unique film anthology. 

Colin gave me some really solid insights into the question I've been wondering since sharing meals with all these filmmakers; "Why does local film seem so far behind local theatre". We had a really interesting chat about budgets, what it takes to produce a film, resources and again the people you need to really make these projects complete. It was interesting that no matter where we went, the conversation always came back to building strong relationships. I'll admit it, this is something I'm still working on. Finding a solid artistic counterpoint is a challenge and it's clear building and keeping relationships are important to Colin.

In addition to coming to see Twelve Tales, be sure to keep your eye out for more from Colin Ziraldo. 

LenZz

Community Mixer

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A photographer, filmmaker and community mixer, LenZz was a delight to chat with over some very delicious shawarma!

LenZz, as he is known in the Ottawa arts community, asked to be called a community mixer which is the perfect way to describe all the amazing work he does in the community. He is a professional photographer, with a passion for education as he applies his talents to workshops with youth as well as other projects that support young artists finding their voices and applying their craft. LenZz has also recently directed his first film, a short about mental health as a project for someone. LenZz describes this feeling that happens simply after "That's a wrap" that few outside of the arts will understand. This is something I was really able to relate to. There is some feeling that comes from finishing one part of a project in the arts that is so hard to describe. It's both a satisfaction that you're done, a release of built up tension and stress, a beginning of the next phase of the project which often means more work and more stress. And yet somehow this feeling is wanted, chased and enjoyed for the fleeting moment you feel it. 

LenZz has a goal to create more knowledge sharing opportunities. As he learns more, he is dedicated to passing along what he's learned. He's unselfish in this way. He really cares about giving support to artists who are just discovering their love for the arts. I admire him for this. 

More "Community Mixers" like LenZz is needed and welcome in any arts community. 

Kevin Laporte

Video Producer /
Video Director

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It's been a long time coming to finally share a meal with Kevin. We tried to connect at least a month earlier but with the holidays and a very busy January, it took us till now to finally sit down and chat about our time at Queen's University.

Kevin start at Queen's a year or so after I was done studying theatre there. He took the Stage and Screen program, which gave him a great insight into the world of film and theatre. We talked about our time at Queen's, the drama department there and how everyone had their own theatre company at one time or another. I was surprised to hear that Kevin took the "do everything" approach while he was there, doing almost every role in theatre production you could think of. 

The most interesting part of our conversation for me was when we discussed the differences we've both noticed in the theatre and film community. Not just the one in Ottawa, but in Kingston too. Starting a theatre company and doing 4-5 theatre shows per year isn't that uncommon. One thing that Ottawa and Kingston have in common is an abundance of theatre companies. This isn't the same way in film...there are film companies, but not as many as you may think. Local film projects and screenings do happen, but it's less common.

So...why? The process isn't that dissimilar. There isn't a lack of venues, actors, videographers, directors, but why is it film doesn't have quite the same built community as theatre does? An interesting topic, that's worth exploring further.

Viktor Khalik

Photographer / Videographer

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Viktor is another artist that is right at the start of his career and is searching for his own style and voice. It was a really refreshing conversation just about building the foundations you need to be successful.

Right now, Viktor is very focused on skill building. He is learning a lot about video production, photography and music as he tries to find the style that suits him. Our conversation was focused on those skills, how to build them, where he is finding the time and energy to do so and what could come next for him. 

We also talked a lot about the cultural influences that have brought his focus to nature and finding art within nature. He had a lot to say about his culture and how that has influenced him but also that his culture is what has driven him to the arts. He told me that when you have arts and a rich culture, you will not be forgotten. Considering everything that is currently going on in Ukraine, and what has happened in the past, it's a powerful message. Can art change the world? I believe it can. But this conversation was much more about when the world changes, you keep art as a way to keep yourself.

Viktor talked a lot about art helping you be remembered, helping a culture stand the test of time and even when occupied, you can keep parts of your culture through the arts. 

As I always seem to say with these conversations, I can't wait to see what's next for Viktor. He's new to Canada, new to the arts and in both cases I admire his ability to dive into new worlds and new areas of focus. He does so with a smile and a dedication that few have! 

Andrew Brannen

Filmmaker / Director

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I had the pleasure of seeing Andrew's first feature film, Coffee to Cocktails, at the Mayfair Theatre just a few months ago. It was great to be able to chat with him about the process of making his first feature and what could come next for this emerging filmmaker. 

Andrew and I discussed our experiences going to film and theatre schools, the people we met, the connections you can make and of course what we learned through studying a performing art. Theatre and Film have a lot in common, so it's been really great to connect with local filmmakers and talk about their process, not just the process of making the art but the journey they are on. Andrew finally felt it was time to just do it and make his first feature film. This is a feeling I can relate to. It's why Sol One exists right now, I just decided to do it. 

Andrew is also a podcaster, he has his own podcast with his wife Hannah, where they talk about movies (of course!). He also has a youtube channel, he admits he took a break away from that kind of content but might very well return to it soon. We also spend some time talking about editing, his day job and how the skills he's learning there are helping to inform his art and his art helping to inform his job.

He goes into details on how his first film came to be and where the idea came from while we enjoyed some of the most delicious BBQ I have ever had at Moe's BBQ in Ottawa's South Keys area. I am sure that Andrew Brannen is a name you will all come to know as he continues to create films and tell more stories. 

Read about Coffee to Cocktails

Check Out His Youtube Channel

Nemo Scio

Photo Artist

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Nemo first introduced himself to me over an Instagram message complimenting the 1000 Meals series. I took at look at Nemo's profile and saw a creative photographer and offered him a meal. I soon discovered his work is much more than photography. 

He describes himself as a photo artist, he walks through nature and finds moments to capture that go beyond simply the photo he takes. He sees images, for example in a splash of water, captures it, and makes small enhancements so he can share what he sees with others. He spoke a lot about wanting to bring some joy to those who see his work, I think we can all use a little more of that. 

Nemo and I spoke over some fish and chips at a wonderful location, The Third, a small and comfortable spot that even had some art on the walls! We talked a lot about creative energy, and how working that classic 9-5 (really 8-5 for most people now) can leave you tired at the end of the day with not much left to create. Both of us are new to Ottawa, so it was nice to bond over how much we do enjoy the city and comparing it to other places we've both lived. Nemo has been in Canada for a while, living in a few different cities, but loves Ottawa. 

Nemo is at the start of his artistic journey. He describes it as he's at step 1, I'm really looking forward to seeing where this could go. Nemo has an eye for amazing moments in nature that look amazing hung on the wall. I should know, he was so generous he gifted me with one of his works that now hangs on a wall in my home. 

He doesn't have plans for a public showing yet, but I hope he does soon because his work is beautiful and in my opinion belongs along side other great artists. More to come from Nemo, I'm most certain of that! 

Anastasiia Zosymenko

Filmmaker

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Anastasiia is new to Canada, coming here from Ukraine and is just starting her journey into the world of film and art. She's been a major film fan forever and has been involved with the arts since she was a kid including some time working in the Ukrainian theatre scene. 

Our conversation began with talking about the documentary film she made about the war in Ukraine. She interviewed several teenagers from different cities across Ukraine about the war and the bombings that are going on, still to this day. I think it goes without saying that it's very inspiring to sit with a young creator and hear that this was their first film project. She spoke to me about how there were opportunities here in the arts that she did not have access to before arriving in Canada. I think its important to pause every so often and remember that we do have it pretty good here. For all its issues, and of course there are issues, Canada is a free country with opportunities that other places simply don't have. This isn't the first time I've heard this, and I know it won't be the last as I continue to get to know a variety of artists from all over the world. 

Anastasiia is looking to meet other artists, especially in film, to work together on future projects. Right now she volunteers with Rogers TV, the Ottawa Youth Film Festival and a few other groups, gaining the skills she needs to go to film school in the future. It's a bright future, she is learning a lot about the struggles and challenges of film production, which will make things easier as she gets older and creates more films. It's a good thing to do this now, see what you think, you don't like and it can help frame what you study and what you look to focus on. 

For now, Anastasiia is part of a few film festivals and other projects in Ottawa, continuing to gain more skills along the way! 

Learn more about the Ottawa Youth Film Festival

Learn more about the Digi60 Filmmakers' Festival

Somya Goomer

Mixed Bag

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Somya is the first artist in this series that I didn't know before we sat down for a delicious sandwich at Zoe's resturant. We've had exactly one conversation before this one, so this was truly a great opportunity to get to know her. 

Somya describes herself as a mixed bag and that's quite true. She does a lot of different things in a variety of arts disciplines making her a truly multidisciplinary artist. She sings, writes her own music, creates and manages arts projects, she performs in films and on stage as an actor, she designs clothing and so much more. 

Collaboration came up a lot during our conversation. We talked about how important it is but also some of the challenges that come along with wanting to partner and truly having to compromise your artistic vision. We also discussed some of our past jobs, it didn't make it onto the podcast, and the working atmosphere at various types of companies. One thing we both agreed on was the idea that not every situation works for everyone. Sometimes when working a job, you find out quickly that it just isn't for you. Somya told a great story about her coming to that understanding and now knowing exactly what she is looking for before beginning a project or job. 

At a young age Somya already has the drive to manage projects and create with other artists. With her background being so diverse, I have no doubt she'll be able to create amazing projects with other creative people over the coming years. She mentioned a project she has planned with a fellow artist, Porter, as they look to create a space for artists of all disciplines to create an immersive art performance. 

I can't wait to learn more about their plans and I hope you keep your eyes open for more from Somya Goomer. 

Ben Bergeron

Filmmaker

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Ben introduced himself to me over email when we were both sponsoring a project by 20today 20tomorrow (Now called The Novas Group). Ben read an early description of Sol One and reached out as he felt there was a common goal we both shared. That's all it took, a simple email, reaching out to chat and now here we are planning projects together for 2024. 

This was a long conversation that ranged in topics from film and theatre school to indie film projects, the lack of sound stages, the passionate Ottawa film scene and of course his own films. Ben embarked on a very interested project this past year. In 2022, he set out to make 1 short film per month, to have 12 by the end of the year. He's 2 films away from finishing that goal and it was fascinating to discuss that process.

Not only is Ben a filmmaker, he is also the Creative Director at Hot Shoe Productions, a social enterprise of Youth Ottawa. At Hot Shoe, Ben offers high-quality, professional video and photography services for all production needs. This ranges from company promo videos, to covering large events. This is also where his film partner Colin works, the two have teamed up for several projects and are currently working together on the 12 short films in a year project. 

Ben is only 24, he has a lot of creative films to make and I'm sure he'll continue expanding his skills and connections as he works towards filming his first feature. I'm excited to say that Sol One is going to be involved in presenting his 12 short films. I plan to produce the screening this coming February. We'll screening all 12 films in a row, it'll be about the length of a feature film, and host a Q&A with Ben and Colin looking back on the process of a year in the life of a local filmmaker. I'm looking forward to seeing this and the progression of the films, to see the difference between the ones she shot in January and the final in December. 

Learn more about Hot Shoe Productions 

Stay tuned for more on his 12 short films!

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo

Creator

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Tangible pieces of action. This is a phrase that I annoyingly adopted in my 20s to describe the only thing I cared about when it came to creating arts programming in Kingston, Ontario. This was born out of a frustration I had when organizations would say certain things, without doing certain things. All under the lens of being more inclusive or some other societal trend that happened to be going on through those years. Drayton and the work that he does with the Novas Group is without a doubt what I meant when I said tangible pieces of action.

The Novas Group is brilliant. The minds behind this organization are all brilliant. Drayton is brilliant. 

I selected Drayton to be first for this project because I felt his work and the work I do is often forgotten as an art form. I'm not 100% sure where I stand on "Everything is an art form", but I do thoroughly believe that creating space for artists, finding talented people, embracing the talent of others, and for lack of a better word "producing", is a creative art form. Drayton describes himself as a "creative" as he talks about his mentality in life and how that has helped him form, not one, but two successful companies.

This conversation was very interesting to me because it gave me an insight into the mind of someone who originally I felt was doing similar work to what I was doing when I was his age. I'm just over 10 years older than him and I can say truthfully that he is way ahead of where I was at his age, and probably way ahead of where I am now.

I enjoyed hearing how his brain works and the way he thinks through challenges and problems. Though he won't necessarily call them challenges and problems. I've never met someone who's embraced the so-called negative as he has. Nothing seems to be an unappeasable challenge, just simply another point in the journey to get past. It's a positive way of thinking. It's very healthy way of thinking. In no way can I fully understand it.

Regardless, I enjoyed our conversation immensely. And I'm looking forward to seeing where everything with the Novas group goes in the coming year.

Learn more about The Novas Group

Emmanuel Antonin

Creative Director

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Emmanuel and I enjoyed some poutine at an Ottawa gem, Jack's Food Truck. I was really interested in learning more about Emmanuel, who carries the title of Creative Director with The Novas Group and specifically 20today 20tomorrow, which is part of this new organization. His mindset is inspiring to me. He's confident, without being arrogant, which is a line I find very hard to find and yet he does it with such ease.

The best part, for me, was hearing his ideas around curating his own art show. I really enjoyed listening to his ideas of a combination event using music, painting and other visual arts. This combination of art forms in one event is always a concept I enjoy.

He makes some very interesting points about how we all experience art, why that's important and what accessibility looks like. It's such an interesting debate to me. How do you value an event or art, charging your audience has value, free events have value. When you charge, you have funds coming in to pay the artist. When you don't charge, you open up your potential audience. His experience with free art events really does clearly explain how he got into arts to begin with and how important experience art is, regardless if you have money or not. 

I don't think we fully covered this topic, but it's a great start.

With this conversation, I again wanted to highlight an artist who produces, curates and finds talents in others. Emmanuel is someone who has a bright future and I look forward to working with him and The Novas Group this coming year. 

Learn more about The Novas Group

Savannah Shea


Musician / Singer / Painter

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It was amazing to catch up with Savannah. I don't exactly remember when I first met Savannah, but I know I was her Director for several musical productions including Annie (Kingston Meistersingers) and with my former company Blue Canoe Productions she was in 13 the Musical, Cabaret and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Possibly more that I don't remember at this moment. 

I've always thought Savannah had talent and it's so amazing to see that she is a working musician. 

Our conversation felt exactly like that, a conversation, a chance for two people to catch up. I hope that all my conversations do not come off as interviews, so I'm glad this one felt natural to me. Savannah even started our conversation asking me a bunch of questions, she dove right into it and it felt great to chat with someone who has some context for the work I did in the Kingston arts scene. 

We discuss ego, not Starloard's father, but ego within ones self. Savannah describes it in both a positive and negative way, which is something that I don't hear often...usually people use the word ego only in a negative. This was a really great way to frame our conversation, a lot of what we discussed with self worth, motivation, what drives her as an artist and what drives me as a producer. 

I cut a lot out of this one (for the podcast), mainly because our conversation was a long one and because Savannah was so comfortable there was a lot about me and that's for sure not the point of the podcast. I keep everything I record, and edit a small section for public enjoyment. I felt I got a lot out of this conversation, including scratching the surface on what drives Savannah to keep doing pub gigs, teaching, painting, creating, aside the obvious of needing to survive.  

I'm going to consider this 1000 Meals "On The Road", mainly I'll be connecting with artists in Ottawa, but I'll use this series when I travel or want to connect with one of the amazing artists I have worked with before. I can't wait to see what Savannah does next and I'm so thankful to have been able to connect with her again. 

Follow Savannah to learn more

Reid Cunningham


Singer

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This was a conversation I was really looking forward to for many reasons. The first being Reid might be one of the only people who has a lot of context for what went into forming and managing the Juvenis Festival, Kingston's youth arts festival. There were a lot of people involved in this massive project, but Reid was one of 3 people who managed the entire festival for the first 3 years of its existence. The second being Reid is a friend of mine. I've done a pretty good job of developing friendships outside of the arts, because I need that balance and separation, Reid being one of the few exceptions. 

We discuss his singing career, the struggles of a lack of performance venues in Kingston and why he has moved away from Singing...for now. 

Venues, that's a very interesting conversation. There seems to be a lack of places for musicians to play, outside of a very active pub and bar scene in Kingston. I think there is much more to discuss here.

I don't think music and the arts will ever fully leave Reid's life. I think right now he has other priorities, which is understandable. But since seeing him in Once Upon a Mattress at LCVI High School in Kingston, I knew he was a born performer. For now I am happy to have had a chance to reflect back with Reid, find out a bit more about his time as a singer and I hope to see him on stage again soon. 

Learn more about the Juvenis Festival