Soozi-1On Monday, December 2, the Ontario Association of Food Banks released their 2013 Hunger Report, which found that 375,000 people used food banks in Ontario – 134,734 of these being children under the age of 18.

As the holidays turn into a new year, there is no excuse for any of us with a roof over our heads to not contribute in some way to helping the less fortunate.

One way to show your support would be to help Soozi Schlanger. Known simply as Soozi, she is a Toronto-based musician who you might know from cajun band, Swamperella. On December 28, Soozi will be hosting a food drive party at the front of the Tranzac Club in Toronto. All proceeds will be going to the CBC food bank.

“Just imagine not being able to go to your fridge or buying something to eat,” said Soozi.

“We’re just so lucky, even the poorest of us, the most struggling of us, if we have a roof over our heads. . . . You’ve got to realize there is always somebody in worse shape, the worst being that they don’t have the necessities of life, and the worst part is [that] we can [fix] this, the whole community can.”

Soozi is no stranger to giving to the less fortunate; she was raised by a mother who she describes as a “charity addict” and who, at the age of 94, still cooks for out-of-the-cold programs. Going further down the line, Soozi’s grandmother in pre-war Latvia would, as the musician describes, “go from door to door to collect anything that anyone can spare like an onion or a beat, and then drop it off at the homes of people who were more poor than they were.”

Soozi-2Soozie admits she didn’t feel like she contributed enough financially to charities throughout her life. However, at the age of 60, she has just released her debut album, Soozimusic, after a decade of performing with two groups – Betty and the Bobs, a collection of Toronto musicians, and cajun band Swamparella, who have four incredible albums under their belt.

The musician describes Soozimusic as a roots-based, multi-genre CD  and as something she simply felt was “the next thing to do in life”. With the buzz that the album has been creating, she hopes people will follow the music and support her cause as she brings it to the Tranzac. Her bandmates from Swamperella will be special guests, along with jazz musician Tony Quarrington, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, which is a mixture of jazz, classical and folk, and The Horables who will be bringing their unique sound of klezmer, django jazz, polka, and gypsy dance tunes to the Tranzac.

There is a lot that can be said about Soozi’s inspiring character and the whirlwind of her musical journey which came later in life, but December 28 will be about the food bank. Continuing the family tradition of helping the needy is also what she describes as the next thing to do in her life.

A more in depth look at Soozimusic and the musician herself is coming soon to Raz Mataz, and will begin our countdown to the Winterfolk Fest XII, which runs from February 14 to 16.

As for now, the Soozimusic food drive party will start at 10 p.m. on December 28 at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. Don’t forget to bring some canned goods!

For more on Soozi, visit

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