No shrinking violet: Begonia talks power and confidence ahead of Saskatoon jazz fest shows

Alexa Dirks took her stage name from a flower but she's no shrinking violet.

Singer-songwriter Alexa Dirks plays 2 shows as part of SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival

Winnipeg’s Begonia is Alexa Dirks' full-time project right now. She plays two shows in Saskatoon as part of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival on Saturday. (CBC)

Alexa Dirks took her stage name from a flower but she's no shrinking violet.

The singer-songwriter known as Begonia chose her namesake for its diversity and contrasts.

"Some begonias are rough and a bit darker around the edges and others are petite, beautiful little flowers," said Dirks.

"It kind of felt like it made me think of my own personality."

Previously known as one of the voices of Chic Gamine, a Juno Award-winning vocal group, Dirks has branched out on her own with her recent EP, Lady in Mind.  

Begonia (Alexa Dirks) performs Juniper live in the CBC Manitoba studio. 3:20

'What you see is what you get'

For Dirks, choosing a flower that is sometimes rough around the edges was partly a reaction to the expectation that women should appear to be happy in public.

She said it's an expectation that she's constantly fighting against.

"The person that I want to project is like a public persona but the person that I truly am … at the end of the day, I'm not the kind of person that can truly hide my true self," she said.

"So kind of what you see is what you get."

On Lady in Mind, the Winnipeg artist writes of relationships, what it means to be a woman and finding strength in dark times.

Dirks said she has found her way as a woman in the music industry by treading trails blazed by those before her.

Winnipeg artist Begonia released her EP, Lady In Mind, in February. (

Finding power on stage

She said touring with the women in Chic Gamine has also made her stronger.

"We'd walk into a festival and have a sound person underestimate us or maybe some men in another band sexualize us, or look at us in a different way," she said.

"And then we'd get on stage and we'd just bring as much power as we possibly could and that's all you can really do.

"You just have to be strong and be as confident as you can and prove people wrong."

Saskatoon shows

Begonia is the opening act in an all-woman show in Saskatoon on Saturday night. She will be opening for Serena Ryder as part of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival at 8 p.m. CST, then performing as the headliner of her own show at Capitol Music Club at 11:30 p.m.

She said it's the first show in a series of big festival gigs she's looking forward to this summer.

"This show is kind of representative of the start of a really fun and hectic time for me so I guess I'm just thinking I want to have a good time," said Dirks.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend