Portrait of Mary Neil wearing a red blazer, red lipstick, pearl earrings and shoulder length brown hair with a slight red streak, standing against a grey background.


It started as a joke. Mary Neil, a community musician, wasn’t actually going around screaming into the void, but she wanted to. 

“A friend of mine was posting on social media, ‘On Tuesdays we scream into the void.’ And I said to her, ‘Okay, so where do we actually scream?’,” Neil said.  

The answer was: nowhere.  

“But we should scream,” Neil said. 

Out of this frustration, the Screaming into the Mic podcast was born. Through the podcast, Neil gives women a platform to amplify their voices. It is an acknowledgement that their voices matter, that they are not always screaming into the void and someone is listening.  

Neil proposed the idea to the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund to interview female artists in the region, giving them a voice and a platform. 

Neil had been reading about female rage and the ways that living in a patriarchal society meant that women were not permitted to express anger and frustration. She wanted to embrace female rage and give it voice. 

So, one evening in August 2022, Neil and five friends walked down to a secluded spot on the edge of the Grand River and they screamed across the water, into the void, for one hour.  

The next week, there were eight participants. The week after, a few more.  

“The most we’ve ever gotten was 15 or 16, but we consistently have about 12,” Neil said. 

What she uncovered along the way was the reality that there are women across the region who feel like their voices are not being heard. They felt like their voices did not matter. They felt like screaming about it.  

The grant application was successful, and in the spring and summer of 2023, Neil went about recruiting and interviewing guests.  

“For this podcast I was looking to interview women from equity-seeking groups. My goal was to gather as many stories from all different demographics, and just kind of see what comes out of the conversation,” said Neil. 

While the interviewees’ personal experiences were diverse, common frustrations quickly became evident. For example, newcomers to the community and emerging artists feel at a disadvantage.  

“There are limited resources for artists in this community. And part of the challenge is that if you are not established in this community and don’t have the connections in this community, then it’s hard to navigate and locate those resources,” Neil said.  

Another issue some of the interviewees raised was the lack work-life balance. This was especially true for some of the mothers that she interviewed.  

“If you’re a mother and you’ve got all of that emotional labour that comes with your family, and then you’re trying to do art on the side, you realize you become very tired before you get to that time allocated for your art. And tiredness does not spawn creativity,” Neil said.  

Producing the podcast also helped Neil reconnect with the value of art in our communities.   

“There are all these stories of how people are using their art for experimentation and exploration and self-discovery, and then sending it out into the world. All of these women are doing incredible things that have a social justice lens. And it just made my heart sing,” Neil said.  

For more information about the podcast, as well as Mary Abdel-Malek Neil’s community music projects, follow her @KWjunkmusic on Instagram, Facebook and X.