As the sound of cheering crowds from the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games fade and the largest ever Parapan Am Games begin, there is a song that will continue to play until the games are finished, that is “Shine As One.” Written at a 3-day S.A.C. SongWorks songwriting camp, It’s the song that was chosen to be played while athletes receive their medals. Originally written in 15 and 45 second parts, the song was later extended to versions up to 10 minutes long to make sure it could cover up to 20 athletes walking to the podium. We interviewed Montreal songstress/songwriter Sally Folk, PEI Singer/Songwriter Dennis Ellsworth and Toronto based producer/songwriter Karen Kosowski about their experience writing this anthemic song.
1. What is a highlight moment for you in writing the song?
Sally: The first 5 minutes! I think that meeting and greeting with new collaborators is always an awkward moment because, being used to write and compose alone, you really want to be easy going for this “one” time J It’s like starting a new relationship, you want to stay yourself but also make sure the others are meeting their own standards.
Dennis: The collaboration was really fun. we worked really hard to be on point and it paid off.
2. Have you attended any medal ceremonies to hear your song fill the stadium?
Sally: Sad but no. I’ve been touring out here in Québec.
Dennis: Sadly, no.
Karen: I attended one of the medal ceremonies at Sugar Beach, for an outdoor sailing event. It was really cool to see. I also checked out a lot of videos on Youtube and got to see the big stadium ceremonies… made me do a little ugly cry!
3. What was the inspiration in writing this song at SongWorks?
Sally: We were asked to write specifically for the PANAM Games so the song had to be very cheerful and bring everybody together. Karen, who also produced the song, suggested a great beat and we started from there.
Dennis: Sports. weird for me, but true. all the emotions that go hand in hand with competitive sports, but most importantly, that we are all winners.
Karen: As the producer/writer in the room I like to come in with some possible starter material, so the song started from a track I had started the day before the camp. I knew what we were going to be going for (loosely) so from a production standpoint I started out wanting to do something that had a multicultural flavor, and also something with high energy. I started out with some big drums and some latin-american percussion and guitars. Then writing the song with Dennis and Sophia was easy because we had a direction already.
4. Have you ever collaborated with these writers before?
Sally: No, that’s the fun about it. You never know what to expect working with new collaborators as well as the final product. It can totally bring you out of your comfort zone and that is why it is so important to do these kinds of works. You grow as an artist. I would definitely work with Karen and Dennis again.
Dennis: No. I definitely hope so. It’s always nice to write with great writers, especially if we already have a rapport and a successful track record.
Karen: That camp was our first time, but hopefully we will again soon!
5. Any plans for the song after the games?
Sally: You can purchase the original version of “SHINE AS ONE” on ITunes!
Dennis: Not sure. I’d love to see it gets some more love.
Karen: Nothing at the moment, although I suppose it could work for a lot of other similar types of events.
6. How would you describe your experience of SongWorks to another songwriter considering participating in a future camp?
Sally: Just do the work. Be open to new ideas and have fun!
Dennis: I adore the songworks camps. i meet great writers and have a blast. i’m always treated like gold and i always learn something that adds to my own skill set….something that i can bring to future writing camps or sessions. i’ve had nothing but gold from the camps i’ve attended.
Karen: Writing camps like SongWorks are very much like a new blind date every day… it’s intense, fun, and it’s a great opportunity to meet other writers and producers. Try to get a lot of sleep to keep your energy up!!
7. What’s your favourite lyric in “Shine As One”?
Sally: I love the pre-chorus:
“Love and hope
Hear our call
All for one
and one for all
Everybody feel it now
Sing – it – loud!”
I had a lot of fun singing it and I think it fits the purpose of the song perfectly.
Dennis: Either – We love, we fight, we shine as one. OR we may look different, but we’re all the same
Karen: “Let’s shine together bright as stars”