Roveena lets her love light the way

RoveenaAfter her father was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer, Roveena set out on a mission to raise awareness by becoming the brand ambassador for Lymphoma Canada.  Roveena recently released Love Will Light The Way (2015) – Lymphoma Cancer edition proceeds of which will be helping individuals who have been diagnosed and/or living with Lymphoma. Net proceeds from the sale and streaming of Love Will Light The Way will be donated to Lymphoma Canada! The songwriters,Andrea England, Luke McMaster and Liz Rodrigues, are 100% supportive of this initiative!   We asked Roveena a few questions about this project and her recent journey.

1.  How has your father’s cancer diagnosis impacted your craft and path as an artist?
I was in the middle writing and recording my 2nd album when my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was left feeling heartbroken and speechless. While in the studio, my producer James Bryan, formerly from The Philosopher Kings, told me to really harvest those emotions and put them into songs. In doing so, it was a great release for me – I was feeling empowered and my skill of songwriting had improved. I slowly started to see that my path as an artist became a lot more clearer.

2.  What should people know about lymphoma?
Lymphoma is the 5th most common cancer is Canada. It can really impact any age, race, gender but more importantly it can go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for years. Many people have never heard of Lymphoma and my plan is to change that and really bring awareness to the forefront.

3.  How did your partnership with Lymphoma Canada come to be?
When we received my dad’s diagnosis, I had no idea what was Lymphoma was. Lymphoma Canada is a non-profit organization that provides tons of information along with support groups for anyone newly diagnosed. I decided to reach out to them because I wanted to help anyone else going through the same situation my family was experiencing. My goal is to raise awareness about this type of cancer. I didn’t want anyone else to be blindsided by a diagnosis of Lymphoma, but more importantly I wanted people to be informed about this type of cancer. Information is power and the more you know the more control you will have when you fight this disease.

4.  Who chose the song “Love Will Light The Way” for the campaign? 
Lymphoma Canada heard this song and instantly fell in love with the message. Lymphoma doesn’t just affect the individuals that have been diagnosed – it also affects their loved ones just as much. This song provides hope and knowing that the affected are not alone and they have full support surrounding them.

5.  The song is written by Andrea England, Luke McMaster and Liz Rodrigues.  How did this song land on your album Perfect World?
I have had the pleasure of working and knowing Andrea for a few years now! As a veteran songwriter and artist, I am blessed that she has been a mentor to me. She pitched the song to me when I first started recording my debut EP and I fell in love with it. It just fit well with the campaign we have for Lymphoma Canada. We decided to release this version of the song as Love Will Light The Way (2015) – Lymphoma Cancer Edition. All net proceeds from the sale and streaming of this single will be donated to Lymphoma Canada.

6.  What are you goals as a songwriter and as an artist in 2016?
I have been working with James Bryan (The Philosopher Kings) for the better part of 2015. We have written 5 new songs and they will all be featured in a new EP set to be released in the new year! My goal for 2016 is to have these songs placed as syncs and as a artist to be able to tour and open for other like-minded artists!

Visit Roveena’s Songwriters’ Profile.

Itunes: http://smarturl.it/LoveWillLightTheWay
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/LoveWillLightStream

“Shine As One” S.A.C. SongWorks Writes Pan Am/Parapan Am Medal Song

Pan Am 2015 Men's Bantam Weight 56Kg Medal Round. Photo by Harvey K. Creative Commons License.
Pan Am 2015 Men’s Bantam Weight 56Kg Medal Round. Photo by Harvey K. Creative Commons License.

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”

Valdy’s “Play Me a Rock and Roll Song” inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

Valdy & Justin Rutledge
CSHF Inductee Valdy and Juno Award Winner Justin Rutledge

In celebration of its induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CHSF) this week, the song “Play Me a Rock and Roll Song,” was covered by Juno Award winner Justin Rutledge as part of the CSHF and CBC/Radio-Canada’s Covered Classics series.  Written by Canadian singer-songwriter Valdy, “Play Me a Rock and Roll Song,” is a 1970s folk classic about his experience getting jeered by an audience for playing his folk music at a rock festival. The song spent 12 weeks on RPM’s Top 40 singles chart for Canada and went gold by 1975.

“It’s a huge honour to have my song ‘Play Me a Rock and Roll Song’ inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame,” says Valdy from his West Coast home. “I’m grateful to all involved, and hugely proud to have one of my songs included as a part of Canada’s musical legacy.”

“Valdy is an iconic songwriter and performer, and one of Canada’s great storytellers,” says Justin. “It’s an honour to perform ‘Play Me a Rock and Roll Song’ as part of the Covered Classics series, and to have the opportunity to celebrate Canada’s great songwriting heritage.”

Click Here for more information on the induction.
Click Here for more information on Covered Classics.

2015 S.A.C. Blogging & Songwriting Challenge Wrap Up

Creative Commons License.  Photo by Andrew Hurley
Creative Commons License. Photo by Andrew Hurley

The 2015 S.A.C. Blogging and Songwriting Challenge was the first of its kind.  Every week industry professionals issued challenges that allowed our 121 participants a taste of life as a professional songwriter.  Those who committed themselves 100% to the task found that songwriting took over their lives, consuming their thoughts and time.  For many it was a taste of the life they aspire to live.

We are grateful to each of our professional mentors, Rob Wells, Heather Gardner, Ron Irving, Jordan Howard, Vincent Degiorgio and Cara Heath, who not only issued challenges but also provided personal feedback to a handful of submissions vetted by our songwriting coaches.  The response from the industry was so positive we were able to give participants a choice of taking on two challenges in the final week.  It is generous of them to have taken the time to nurture the next generation of songwriters.

We are also grateful to our songwriting coaches, Debra Alexander and James Linderman who lived in the trenches with our songwriters.  Our coaches shared advice on lyrics, chord structures and collaboration, going far above and beyond what was expected, fuelled by their genuine desire to see our participants succeed.  For many of our songwriters, the help these coaches provided defined their experience of this challenge, opening up new tools and techniques to apply to their craft.

We would also like to thank Barb Sedun for arranging a real life pitch to Matt Dusk (to be posted below), along with Matt himself and his management team for their willingness to give our emerging songwriters a chance to present him songs that would expand his sound for his next album.  Having a real opportunity like this has been a game-changer, increasing the intensity in a way no other challenge could.

Lastly, we must thank all of our passionate participants.  Everyday the Facebook group was full of positive feedback and constructive criticism as many songwriters shared their work in progress, often times in genres far outside their comfort zones.  So much zeal. So much love.  By the end of the first week, the group began to feel like a summer camp of sorts, with new friendships forming that we hope will continue long after this challenge is history.

So, we end with where we began.  It is time to submit your song for Challenge No. 1 issued by Matt Dusk. Please post the following below by Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59pm:

1.  Your Name
2.  What was the hardest challenge or hardest part of the challenge for you and why?
3.  What did you enjoy most about participating in this experience?
4.  What is something significant that you learned from taking on this challenge? (It can be about yourself or about the challenge)
5.  Would you do this type of challenge again?  Why or why not?
6.  Your link to your Matt Dusk submission.  Please include lyrics on your SoundCloud page.  If one of your collaborating partners is submitting the link to your song, you can refer to their posting (ie. See link from ____________).

S.A.C. Challenge – Week 6 – Choice No. 2 – Issued by Vincent Degiorgio – Write a Holiday Hit

Vince DegiorgioVincent Degiorgio is a multi million selling songwriter who owns and operates Chapter 2 Productions.

His global reach and career has included many facets, from writing for European superstar Caro Emerald to being the man who signed N Sync in America. He continues to write for artists around the world, with dozens of gold and platinum records to show for his work for artists ranging from Japanese pop stars Lead to Canadians Meaghan Smith and Julie Crochitiere. His Cymba Music Publishing company houses hitmakers like Aileen de la Cruz, Ian Smith, Davor Vulama and his newest signing, Edmonton’s Olivia Wik.

Here is Vince’s songwriting challenge:

Write the next great holiday song.

The timing is perfect for your quest to deliver the next great Christmas song, or one to be celebrated during the holidays. Aside one new song on the globally loved Michael Buble Christmas album, new songs that have transcend the holidays are few and far between. Songs that challenge the system like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and N Sync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” are few and far between. Your challenge is to lyrically and melodically enter the creative stratosphere of great songs like “The Christmas Song”, a timeless masterpiece, and songs like “Let It Snow”, both of which were written in a California heatwave. While the former speaks of the setting of the perfect Christmas, the latter evokes all of the settings of a holiday celebration without mentioning Christmas itself.  Remember, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was a fisherman’s lament. What I am looking for is a song of any tempo in any style, that speaks of your personal imagery and memories of the holiday season. Pour yourself into the idea that you do not have to be culturally specific, but you do have to deliver the message what this December past time means to you. Songs should be no longer than 3:30 long.

Many of the most beloved holiday classics were once written for movies. Use that imagery when you write your song. Rather than be jealous of yet another cover version of “White Christmas”, change the landscape for me and anyone listening with your song. 

When I was the A&R person for N Sync, I put together an album I am very proud of for five great singers. It was tailored after the Johnny Mathis album “Merry Christmas” – to provide a timeless, or timely representation of the talent at the time. Today, one is considered “The King Of Pop”. The other a timeless icon, who is the undisputed king of holiday albums.

Show me your talent with your song. Because for music supervisors and publishers, the holiday season for movies actually starts in April, not November. 

Good luck,
Vince Degiorgio

Please submit the following by Monday, March 23, 11:59 EST.
1.  Link to a blog post about your experience with this challenge.
2.  Link to your song (preferably on SoundCloud) with lyrics posted in SoundCloud.
Comments posted by people who have not registered for the Challenge will be deleted.

S.A.C. Challenge – Week 4 – Issued by Ron Irving – Write an EDGY country pop song

Ron IrvingRon Irving is no stranger to writing hits for the stars.  His songs have been recorded by over 100 artists worldwide in seven languages including cuts with Anne Murray, Michael Buble, Jennifer Rush, Asian stars Jacky Cheung and MINK, One More Girl, Lisa Brokop, Terri Clark, Lee Greenwood and many others with awards for Song of the Year from both SOCAN and the CMPA.  Here is his challenge to you:

Write an EDGY Country Pop Song
Target:  Male artist, early 20s. No mention of marriage or kids.  No references to “partying at the lake”, “trucks and tailgates” and no “bro country” vibe.
Method:  If you have been collaborating for the previous 3 challenges, change it up and write this one by yourself.  If you have been writing alone for the most of the past 3 challenges, write this one with a co-writer or two.
Tempo:  Stretch yourself by writing opposite of your comfort zone.  If you usually stay with up-tempo tracks – chill out and write a ballad.  If you usually write ballads, set the tempo for at least 120 on this one.
Please submit the following by Monday, March 9, 11:59 EST.
1.  Link to a blog post about your experience with this challenge.
2.  Link to your song (preferably on SoundCloud) with lyrics posted in SoundCloud.

S.A.C. Challenge – Week 2 – Issued by Rob Wells – Write an explosive pop hit!

Rob Wells has a challenge for you!
Rob Wells has a challenge for you!

Rob Wells is a multi-platinum, award-winning producer/songwriter based in Toronto & Los Angeles. He has worked with numerous multi-platinum selling artists, with songs landing on millions of award winning records. His work has appeared in major release films, network TV shows and video games worldwide.  Awards include first place in numerous songwriting competitions, SOCAN #1 awards, gold, platinum & multi-platinum certifications.

Our week 2 challenge is as follows:

I’m looking for strong female based Pop/Top 40 songs.  Think Selena Gomez.  Think Demi Lovato.  Think big.  Think hits.  Think target audience of 13-18 years old.  If you’re writing a global, universal, and (a little bit) quirky smash song with an interesting title, I’m interested.  If you can sing your explosive chorus a thousand times and not be sick of it, I’m interested.  Trim the fat.  No unnecessary sections or long intros.  Take me on a journey.  Make every lyric count and funnel towards a great chorus payoff.  Maximum 3:30 in length.  Good luck!

Your song is due February 23 by midnight. Share a link to your song and a link to your blog post in the comments below.

Challenge No. 1 – The S.A.C. Songwriting & Blogging Challenge

We are excited to announce this year’s challenge is being launched by a REAL PITCH REQUEST!  As such, you will have 6 weeks to submit a demo for this first challenge.  Although you will not be submitting a song in 7 days, you will be required to submit a blog about your experience of the challenge thus far, the progress you have made, any collaborations you may have initiated, and challenges you have encountered in working towards this challenge.

We would like to thank Barb Sedun and SOCAN for helping us to issue this challenge.

Matt Dusk is an established Canadian artist who has a challenge for you.  Take a look…

Good luck everyone!

Cultivating a Local Songwriters’ Stage

Crowded Coffee Shop
Full house at Trees captured by Marq DeSouza

Cultivating a local stage for songwriters is a great way to build an audience, not just for your own music, but fellow artists in your neighbourhood.  It can make live music accessible to people who might not otherwise seek it out, create networking and collaboration opportunities for local songwriters and boost the business of a local coffee shop or bar.  We interviewed longstanding S.A.C. Member and talented acoustic soul-folk artist John Pippus about building a thriving community and audience in Vancouver at Trees Organic Coffee & Roasting House.  May his answers inspire you to consider building your own stage for local artists to shine.

1. How long have you been hosting Friday nights at Trees (Organic Coffee House) in Vancouver?
I took over managing the music nights from – are you ready – Carly Rae Jepsen back in the spring of 2006. Her other job was working the esspresso machine! Eight and a half years later I’m still there pretty much every Friday night. I book and host the evenings and sometimes I play too. I was booking Dan Mangan, Hannah Georgas, and Wanting Q long before they were on anyone’s radar.

2. What do you look for when booking talent on these evenings? What kind of show do you hope to bring to people?
I look for people I want to listen to, it’s that simple. Usually it’s solo singer/songwriters, but sometimes I have duos, trios and various genres from folk to jazz and beyond. The largest act I’ve booked was a six-piece band with a horn section. That was a little loud, you can’t blow a trumpet softly I’ve learned. Keep in mind, the “stage” is a few square feet in front of the coffee roaster and next to the cheesecake display fridge.

I look for acts that take their talent seriously. That means, at a minimum, they have a web presence. Even if they’ve never performed before or don’t have an album under their belt, they’ve got something recorded and online. Preferably they also have at least one or two live performances posted on Youtube. I can tell within thirty seconds of listening to what they send me if I want to book them.

3. How is performing in a coffee house different from regular bars or larger venues?
Bars, as we all know, tend to be noisy, alcohol-fueled joints where most of the clientele is not there to appreciate the subtleties of the songwriter’s art. Which is fine if you’ve got a foot stomping reel you’re pounding out in the corner and the crowd is singing along. It’s rare to get a hushed room in the larger venues, unless you’re well up the pecking order.

Trees is a listening room, I remind the audience of that at the start of every show. And you can see the whites of their eyes when you’re performing and vice versa. So it’s intimate and on a good night it can be very magical.

4. How has this show become a part of the Vancouver music community?
By being consistently ‘there’ every Friday night. Pay is by donation, split by three acts and the venue holds only 45 or so, so it’s not a large payout. But performers get a listening audience and I don’t make a big deal about getting the acts to bring out their own crowd. I know how hard that can be, especially when you’re performing in your home town ‘yet again’. We treat the performers with respect, we book new acts along with the touring acts, and since Trees is unlicensed, younger performers can come and bring their friends.

5. Are there sound limitations or challenges for a coffee house?
You’ll hear the blast of steam from the espresso machine or the beans being ground from time to time. But I’ve gotten used to it, and I think the audience has too. The smoothie orders can be a bit loud though. The occasional noisy table is told nicely to keep it down, and if that doesn’t work, I’ve been known to get a little testy.

trees6. How have the owners at Trees played a role in building this community?
Doron Levy is the owner and he was very patient, at the outset, in letting the scene build slowly. They also maintain the calendar listings on their website (treescoffee.com) and this past year they’ve started doing a monthly blog feature on one of our performers. The whole staff is supportive; working the Friday night shift is always in demand with the employees.

7. Why are these Friday evenings and events like this important in supporting the songwriting community?
Listening venues are rare. And at Trees we maintain that vibe We’re also small and casual enough that performers just getting launched as performers are made to feel welcome. The sets are only about 35 minutes in length so it’s not like you’ve got to carry an entire evening. Oh, and one more thing, we expect the performers to play original material, with only one or two covers, so that’s the opposite of what some of the bars want. We also have an Open Mic Night on Thursdays that have become very popular. Local singer/songwriter Marq DeSouza hosts those evenings.

8. What suggestions do you have for any singer/songwriters looking to cultivate a similar on-going show in their community?
If you have the right personality for hosting a regular music night then it’s a fantastic way to establish yourself on your local scene. I’ve made many contacts by doing this job. The right personality, I would suggest, includes being reliable, having a sense of humour, and being more or less organized. It really helps that I can play, so when there are last minute cancellations I can fill in. Buy a small P.A. and go talk to a coffee house owner about hosting a weekly music night. I told the owner that I would take on managing the music nights as long as it was fun, and all these years later I can still say that’s what it is.

Click Here to visit John Pippus’ Songwriter Profile.

Need some funding? The lowdown on applying for a grant.

Based on interview with President of FACTOR, Duncan McKie.

FACTORYou’ve written a great song that you’re ready to share with the world. For many songwriters, the next step is to record a demo or album. This could mean getting a second job and/or applying for funding from FACTOR, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings. We chatted with FACTOR president Duncan McKie, who shared a few tips and in- sights. Good luck on your next application!

Pick up the phone
Many people are intimidated by FACTOR and reluctant to seek help. A team at FACTOR is specifically devoted to helping artists get their appli- cations ready. A quick phone call can get you an answer in minutes. You can contact FACTOR at 416-696-2215 or 1-877-696-2215.

Treat your craft as a business
FACTOR was originally created to help artists get their songs played on radio. Commercial viability is therefore a key factor. The foundation is mandated to support people who aspire to commercialize their work. FACTOR recognizes that you can still have a great career without neces- sarily scoring a big hit. Even regional success requires a solid strategy. Success with FACTOR is not based solely on good material. Organize yourself like a business. This will serve your application.

Keep trying
As you’ll see from the chart below (from the 2010-11 Annual Report), competition is high. These statistics may seem daunting, but feedback is always provided to help applicants make improvements for subsequent applications. Many who succeed have already been rejected several times in the past.

Program                                                                         Submissions              Approvals
Artist Demo Grant                                                                661                             177 (27%)
Juried Sound Recording: Independent Loan                 477                              39 (8%)
Juried Sound Recording: FACTOR Loan                       203                              37 (18%)

Get professional help
The application process might make you feel as if you need to go into therapy. Don’t despair. Engaging an application specialist can sometimes help if you encounter continual rejection. Outside input is an option worth exploring.

Form or join a team
Some artists work with a label management company or a manager to put their application together. Working with a team reflects a business approach to your career. It represents a level of validation and also in- creases the creativity and resources you can tap into.

Work with a FACTOR-approved label
There are many companies associated with FACTOR who have better ac- cess to FACTOR loans by virtue of their success in the industry. They can bypass the jury process because of their track record. These companies include labels and publishers.

Work with what you’ve got
Many artists ask “How good must my demo be?” There’s no black and white answer. The jury is comprised of professionals who are aware that artists have financial limitations and that the best talent is not always the best-equipped. Talent will shine through. The jury tries to evaluate fair- ly. On the other hand, as technology and production tools become more accessible, the quality of demos is also on the rise. Your submission will undoubtedly be played alongside some high quality demos, which you should bear in mind. Applying to FACTOR is a learning process unto it- self. Better to start wherever you are and keep improving it as you move forward, with or without funding approval. You can always try again!

Reprinted from Songwriters Magazine 2011