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

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“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.