By Jay Kana
Mississauga’s own Arlene Paculan isn’t just a talented musician and singer. The enthralling Gemini, who got her first taste of music by learning the piano at age 6, is using her talents and passion for music to help inspire and empower others.
The ever-smiling Arlene is a seasoned performer and has been showcasing her talents throughout the GTA for over two decades now, with no plans on slowing down.
What’s keeping her busy? Well, quite a bit.
She launched “Wonder Women”in 2010, an avenue that started out as a showcase for female singer-songwriters across various genres and putting them in front of different audiences to exhibit their talents and help increase awareness. The added bonus is it enables funds to be raised for female-driven associations.
With each event growing in popularity, the performance, now called “WonderFest,” combines “Wonder Women and Super Men” to broaden the appeal of the event and allows more talented musicians to connect their music with the community.
These events have ballooned in popularity so much so that now they're not only about music. There are various art mediums included, such as painting, poetry, spoken word, dance, film, performance art, comedy, motivational speakers and storytellers. With such breadth and depth, Arlene’s vision is constantly growing and that’s great news for her fellow artists.
Clearly, this gal is all about giving back, which is something she’s quite humble about.Her mantra is to “showcase the talent around us. To give artists a platform and outlet and afford them an opportunity to introduce and share their passion with the world.”
She goes on to say, “these events are to inspire and encourage people to create, regardless of the medium. Creativity can be found nearly anywhere, from setting the table, to an intricate spreadsheet, to a corporate setting and a plethora of avenues in between.”
I asked what motivates her and the instant answer was “my love for music and ability to create opportunities for others.”
It wasn’t a rehearsed response. It wasn’t saying what she thought I wanted to hear.
The way she spoke, her confident tone and the excitement that surrounded our over two hour conversation was an honest representation of a selfless woman who understands the value in helping others through her success.
She launched her own event/artist promotion company in 2012, called “Let’s Make Good Productions”, with her close friend, Kat Leonard, taking the leadership role as Artistic Director. The company’s mission statement is to spread empowerment through various art forms via ongoing WonderFest events and workshops. Adding to that is a TV show they host on Rogers TV called “WonderFest TV” which gives them another outlet to promote their empowering message.
In 2016, expect to see a host of WonderFest events, in addition to her weekly solo performances and energetic live performances with her band, “Arlene Paculan & the Cool Ones”.
Somehow, she’s also found time to work on an EP of original music that’s due in the spring of 2016. Either she’s found a way to freeze time or she sleeps every other night. Either way, this Mississauga talent is motivated, driven and absolutely ambitious.
Through the course of our chat, I learned several interesting things about her, including:
- She doesn’t eat chocolate. (not a typo)
- She was a competitive figure skater in her younger years and still enjoys leisurely skating when time allows
- She performed her first original song at age 17 at the CNE’s Rising Star competition
- She was runner-up in Now Magazine’s 2015 Best Songwriter category (very impressive!)
- Lime Green is her favourite color
- No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom is one of her favourite albums
- Our Lady Peace is her favourite band
- She plays the guitar, harmonica, cajon and glockenspiel in addition to the piano
- Her favourite Mississauga venue is Celebration Square
- Her dream venue to perform at? Carnegie Hall in NYC
After touring in Europe earlier this autumn, Arlene’s 2016 calendar keeps getting busier with an upcoming TV show on Rogers Cable in addition to leading the “Night Time Band” for Night Time with Sam Davis’ TV show, also on Rogers Cable.
Between empowering and supporting a plethora of other musicians and artists, expansion plans for WonderFest and consistent live performances, this Randolph Academy educated super-woman still boots around in a 2004 Toyota Camry (say what you want, that car has tons of space for her gear) and is incredibly humble. She constantly deflects the attention off of her and pours it onto others, knowing that giving bears more than receiving.
With her head in the clouds, feet firmly on the ground and fingers frequently dancing upon 88 black and white keys, Mississauga’s Arlene Paculan has beautifully blossomed from a rising star to an ever-shining beacon of inspiration and empowerment, lighting the way for others.