Self published on TheGoodeLife on April 7, 2015. Images, writing, video and audio by Liz Goode. 

Jane Souralaysack stands watching people wind their way through the packed Now’s the Time exhibit the Art Gallery of Ontario in downtown Toronto. The visitors are here to see the work of iconic hip hop artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who became well-known for his edgy and evocative graffiti style work in the 1980s.


Souralaysack is only 5 feet tall, but as soon as she gets her hands on a mic, her voice takes over the gallery. With an impressive range of beat-box rhythms and sounds, Souralaysack captivates the room as she brings Basquiat’s urban culture to life for her audience.

Souralaysack is a 19-year old student at the University of Toronto. She was introduced to beat-boxing by friends she met while break dancing. “I was so fascinated by it,” she says.  

That was three years ago. Today, Souralaysack is appearing at the AGO as a representative of Toronto-based UNITY charity. This non-profit connects youth ages 10 to 18 with opportunities to express themselves. “They create positive outlets for youth through elements of hip hop- break dancing, beat-boxing, spoken word and graffiti” explains Souralaysack.

UNITY has paired up with the AGO to connect visitors to an authentically hip-hop experience, and will be hosting beat-boxers every Saturday and spoken word artists every Sunday in the Basquiat exhibition until May 10th.

UNITY also presents the annual UNITY Festival, which showcases exceptional youth performers from across Canada in venues around the city every July. The festival is designed to celebrate the diverse voices behind the contemporary urban hip-hop movement, and performers are recruited both from Unity’s programming as well as through open auditions in the community. You can find out more information about thathere.

When she’s not transforming rooms with her beat-box breaks, Souralaysack helps other young people to find their own voice. “I taught break dancing & beat-boxing for the Toronto District School Board under the Focus on Youth Program, on behalf of UNITY for 2 summers,” she says.

She even took a few minutes to teach visitors to The Goode Life the basics of beat boxing:

Listen to Souralaysack talk more about her experiences with hip-hop culture, beat-boxing and UNITY Charity below: