Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • February-March 2024 • Circulation 5000


Return of the Musical Mamas

Group encourages musical creativity among women.

A photo of some of the Musical Mamas from the last season. From left: Sylvia Trefry Khoury (holding bass), Shenta Arnold, Rhonda Hardcastle, Rhea Gagnon, Shauna Specht, Shauna Lynn McMillan, Sinder Sparks, Shauna Specht. Front: Mary Rankin. Supplied

The Musical Mamas is a group of women who have been meeting in the inner city to share and enhance their musical talents, for just over two years. The group began meeting in Boyle Street Plaza last year, but their first event was in April of 2014.

Musical Mamas was founded by local musician Sinder Sparks. “In April of 2014, I was working for a venue owner as an event planner and talent bookings. As a female musician, I knew there was a desire for more opportunities for female musicians to gain more technical skills and stage time in a positive, female-friendly environment, through conversations I had with other female musicians. I produced one Musical Mamas Event for the venue before lease issues encouraged the owner to move on from being a venue owner. This event was so well attended, that I was contacted by participants to continue hosting Musical Mamas independently, so our current Musical Mamas Singer Songwriter Support Group was launched!”ng Musical Mamas independently, so our current Musical Mamas Singer Songwriter Support Group was launched!”

Sparks explains that “Musical Mamas is an important group for women singer/songwriters because it creates a safe, positive space for female musicians to gain stage and performance experience and learning opportunities within an environment that is supportive not competitive, accessible and affordable. Many women, myself included, have experienced sexist or harassing situations at shows and sometimes during performances and desire a productive way to move through such setbacks. Others are exploring music and the healing qualities of music and seek a productive and positive place to develop their stage feet.”

Women do not have to be professional musicians to get involved with Musical mamas. “Musical Mamas welcome musicians and songwriters of all abilities and ages,” says Sparks. “We nurture positive musical, self-driven development for women. During our Musical Mamas meetings we have a learning segment followed by a ‘Round’ Stage where performance and experiences are shared.”

This year, Musical Mamas is taking a huge step by becoming an official non-profit society. “Our goal is to produce one compilation CD per season, and to continue to meet once a month from September to May (with a December break) on the last Tuesday of each month,” Sparks explains. “More Musical Mamas events will develop as we progress.”

Sparks also emphasizes that you don’t have to actually be a “Mama” to join Musical Mamas. “Procreation is not a prerequisite to join Musical Mamas,” she says, with a smile. “Our meetings are provided on a drop-in basis. We welcome all musically-inclined women of all ages and skill levels and they are FREE. Our meetings are only for women and we host annual mixed celebration events. We are LBGTQ friendly and sometimes we have male presenters for our meetings (we make them honourary Musical Mamas!).”

While full membership in the forthcoming society will only be open to those who identify as female, men can support the group by becoming Friends of the Musical Mamas. “Anyone can become a friend of Musical Mamas Society,” says Sparks. “Many men have a wife, mother, sister, or daughter who would benefit musically with the opportunity Musical Mamas Meeting provide.”

Musical Mamas’ current list of supporters and active members come from Parkland, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park as well as Central, South, and North Edmonton. So why was Boyle Street Plaza chosen as the location for Musical Mama events?

“I came across an ad for events that support and connect people in the Boyle Street and surrounding areas,” says Sparks. “It was a wish come true because now I could offer Musical Mamas Meetings without having to charge a cover fee, making it more accessible to more women. It also had to be an all-ages location. I am a long-time central Edmonton resident as well, so it was a perfect fit.”

Musical Mamas’ first Meeting of Season Three is on Tuesday, September 27 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Boyle Street Plaza.

Donations are accepted to become an official registered Musical Mamas Member or Friend. The suggested amount is currently set at $20. Memberships will be available at meetings and online when the website is launched. Volunteer options to cover memberships are also available.

As well, Musical Mamas Vol. 1 is due to be launched this November (just in time for Christmas!). Pre-orders and final fundraising activities will be launching this month, along with the Musical Mamas’ new (and first) website! Until then, the Musical Mamas can be followed on Facebook:

For more information, Sinder Sparks can be contacted via email at:

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