This year’s Kidapalooza Family Festival is getting a jolt of Girl Pow-R.
The all-girl pop rock band draws talented girls, ages 10-17, from across Ontario and some of them will be performing in six Markham shows over the Family Day weekend.
The festival will also include Kidapalooza’s signature activity stations and shopping at local and artisan vendors.
Markham’s Aashika Maramreddy, 11, is one of the band’s newest members. Acting on a suggestion from her vocal teacher, she marked her first performance last September.
Maramreddy had an interest in starting a music career but didn’t know how to go about it. She felt Girl Pow-R would provide more opportunities to sing than local vocal recitals and the Kiwanis Music Festival. Plus it looked like it would be fun.
“Everyone is great,” she said. “Everyone has incredible voices, and we learn a lot.”
In addition to learning how to harmonize, singing with the group has helped with stage fright and has increased Maramreddy’s confidence.
The girls are also required to have their own social cause and advocate for it. Causes range from better education for girls all around the world, to youth homelessness, peace, mental health support and awareness. Maramreddy likes to help homeless people and every year at Christmas will hand out cookies and mitts.
Carina Bianchini, 17, will mark three years with the group this April. Her father spotted a Girl Pow-R promotion on social media and pointed it out to her. With auditions in Etobicoke and rehearsals in Mississauga, Bianchini felt she could commit to it because it was close to her home in Unionville.
Her father has served as her vocal coach since she was two-years-old. She also has a competitive dance background. Bianchini hopes to continue studying the performing arts at the post-secondary level and would one day like to teach. At the moment, she is enjoying performing.
“The message behind Girl Pow-R is to inspire others, so I feel if I can teach what I love and promote a good positive message,” she said. “I want to be part of a movement that inspires girls to reach their full potential.”
Their first album of original music was released last summer. The girls like to write about topics they and others in their age group can relate to. Friends Click and Never Let Go and other videos can be seen on YouTube.
Dawn Van Dam started the group after her daughter, who was a singer, took a break from her music career to go back to university.
“She had some songs she wasn’t interested in pursuing anymore, and they were all about anti-bullying and being strong, and more confident,” she said. “I learned a lot managing her career, so it just became a passion of mine to pursue artist development and management.
“I definitely wanted to start an all-girl group, create a collaborative team, choosing people in the group and giving them the skills they’d need in the music industry.”
Since then, Girl Pow-R has toured the US, been nominated for several awards and won first place at the 2017 Family Channel singing competition. They have performed in around 200 shows to date and garnered 443,680 video views. The “Never Let Go” single has been played on radio and attracted over 700,000 listens.
Kidapalooza Family Festival runs Feb. 15-17 at the Markham Fairgrounds, 10801 McCowan Rd.
Girl Pow-R performs twice each day over the three days of the festival, at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.