Pro Member Interview – Karen Kosowski

Karen Kosowki - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/KarenKosowski

Producer and songwriter Karen Kosowski has one foot in the pop world and the other foot in the country world. She has produced a US Pop Radio Top 40 (Tryon’s “Somebody To Love Me”), a Billboard AC Radio #4 (Emma-Lee’s “It Won’t Be Christmas”) and a Canadian Country Radio Top 10 (Madeline Merlo’s “Motel Flamingo”) – for which she received a nomination for Producer Of The Year at the 2018 CMAO Awards. As an active songwriter, she has contributed to numerous pop and country hits for Canadian and American artists including most recently Brett Kissel’s Top 10 single “Anthem”. Recent releases include producing/co- writing both albums “Fantasies: Volume I” and “Fantasies: Volume II” from Emma-Lee, and co-writing“What A Song Should Do” and “The Worst Kind feat. Lindsay Ell” from Tim Hicks’s latest record “New Tattoo”.

Having written and produced the music for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games medal ceremonies, Karen has also landed numerous tv/film placements both on television networks such as HBO Canada, CBS, FX Network, Lifetime Network, TLC, YTV, MuchMusic, NickTeen, Space, and the CW, and in feature films including the award-winning thriller “The Scarehouse” and Wangofilms’ action movie “88” (starring Christopher Lloyd), which garnered her a 2016 Canadian Screen Awards nomination in the category of Achievement in Music – Best Original Song. She also received Producer of the Year nominations at both the 2018 CMAO Awards and in the 2015 NOW Magazine ‘Best of Toronto’ poll.

Karen is currently based out of her own private studio in the exclusive music mecca neighborhood of Berry Hill in Nashville, working with new talent from Liz Rose Music Publishing, Big Deal Music Publishing, BMG Publishing and more.

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For more information please visit karenkosowski.com

Contact: karen@karenkosowski.com

 

  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry 

    I’ve been a professional songwriter and record producer for over a decade, but prior to that I actually spent many years as a solo artist. When I first started out writing songs as a teenager, there was a big emphasis in the music industry on singer-songwriter artists who performed their own material (this was the mid-nineties), so I started going out and performing my own songs, and renting gear and producing my own albums, very DIY. But 12 years and several albums later, I realized my true passion was the actual writing and producing, and not the other aspects of being an artist like touring, etc.  I’m grateful for everything I learned from the many years I spent as a solo artist, but I’m much happier helping other artists realize their vision!

  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines? 

    I grew up playing acoustic instruments but then got pretty heavily into programming, so I love experimenting with a hybrid of electronic and organic elements, which lands pretty naturally in the pop-country genre… but i sometimes swing full-on pop, or the opposite, to more rootsy country.  It depends on who I’m writing with and what they’re feeling in the mood to do!

  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like? 

    I had the opportunity to write a song for the WangoFilms feature film “88” (with my co-writer Peter Katz) starring Christopher Lloyd.  It was a fascinating and emotional way to write, because we were seeing the picture on the screen as we worked out the music.  Technically it was really different too, because the scene required a really fluid piece, with dramatic pauses… we were writing to highlight the emotion of the scene at every moment.  I got to try out some new things in Logic, and made a lot of use of tempo mapping!

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In Memory of Justin Haynes, 1973-2019

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Photo of Justin Haynes from http://www.ottawacitizen.com

Justin Grant Alan Haynes was born February 24, 1973. As a boy growing up in Dunrobin, now on the outskirts of the amalgamated city of Ottawa, he attended school in Kanata where he was remembered fondly by a former music teacher. At the age of 12, Haynes discovered the music of revered jazz guitarist Joe Pass. He was playing out before the end of high school and making a name for himself in Ottawa’s music scene.

By the mid-90’s, Haynes lived in Ottawa’s Centretown and while he apparently liked it there, Toronto held more opportunities to play one’s own music. He joined the migration of some of his Ottawa musician friends and left for Toronto. He quickly found himself busy with all sorts of projects, including some with well known artists like Tanya Tagaq and Mary Margaret O’Hara. He also taught where he could, including music therapy related work with people on the autism spectrum.

A residency at the National Music Centre in Alberta 2012 seems to have only postponed the problem of making ends meet in Toronto. Haynes was quite candid about his struggles both online and in print.

Justin Haynes’ story is a sad one to tell. The 46-year-old composer and multi-instrumentalist was found dead in his basement apartment on March 13. A sad, premature death in the local arts community, but more frustratingly, Haynes had a lengthy, well respected career. If he couldn’t survive the life of a working musician in Toronto, one wonders if this is an indictment against the cost of living (renting) in Toronto.

Haynes worked with new players, seasoned veterans, on stage, in studios, composing and performing a wide range of styles. He played for audiences of all sizes; from The Rex downtown, to appearances at prestigious festivals across Canada, like the Victoriaville music festival and seminal American festivals including SXSW. He even performed at Canadian embassies.

Despite casting a large net in the musical pond of Toronto, regular gigs as a teacher, composer and player weren’t enough to pay all the bills.

Haynes found himself homeless briefly, and he wrote about life at Seaton House for Now magazine. CBC picked up the story, the city of Toronto officially responded, and it became one of those fleeting moments when homelessness makes the news.

Back off the streets, on ODSP, and living in a 500 square foot basement, Haynes was struggling with personal issues. The single father was trying to qualify for overnight stays with his son in the tiny apartment.

Despite recognition for Haynes musical pedigree among musicians, he spent years living hand to mouth. He wrote jazz, folk, solo and group music. The musician was well ensconced in soundscape creation, a growing field, but not necessarily a revenue stream.

A GoFundMe page was opened for his 12-year-old son, George Freeland-Haynes where the community came together and donated over $40,000.

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S.A.C. Spotify Episode 7: Remembering Justin Haynes. Click here to listen.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

 

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Lillian Allen

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Writer; Poet; Performer; dub poetry embodies these three characteristics, distinguishing it from singers or poets. As a pioneer in the dub poetry world, Lillian Allen has written, recorded and performed for decades. The Juno award winner has published books, advised community advocacy groups and the government alike on various social issues and now teaches at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University).

“Black History Month reminds me of the soulfulness of my ancestors whose vestiges of heritage and culture we carry with us as a people everywhere we go; what an amazing connection this gives us. We are like our own worldwide web. Black History Month calls on not just Black people but our entire country to reflect on and celebrate the resistance, hopes, sacrifices and achievements of Black people & our culture and our vital contribution to human enterprise, both tangible and intangible. It should also be a reminder that unequal societal conditions, marginalization, lack of opportunities especially among a section of our youth, was not always so and can and must be countered with culture, economic upliftment and participation in society’s processes.”

Lillian Allen grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica and emigrated to Kitchener/Waterloo Canada in 1969 and later moved to New York City to pursue her studies and back to Canada where she settled in Toronto in the mid 1970’s.

Reading and performing her brand of poetry at community events to much accolades, her first of many books, Rhythm an’ Hard Times was published in 1982. Her first recording came out the following year. Active in Toronto’s arts & culture scenes, she collaborated with many musicians and artists.

Allen’s interest in writing and performing dub poetry received a jolt when she encountered the original dub poet Oku Onuora at a 1978 writers’ conference in Cuba. Onuora recorded the first dub poetry album, “Reflections in Red,” in 1979. Music is a fundamental component of dub poetry; the beat, usually reggae, is meant to add momentum to the uttered verses.

Lillian Allen was part of the first wave of dub poets including Mutabaraka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, credited with coining the term in a 1976 article. Johnson later explained he was referring to the rise of “toasting” among Jamaican deejays which developed into chattering or even singing along with extant songs and instrumentals. Dub Poetry is not toasting or “singjaying” though; there is a gravitas to the words which is not a requirement in reggae singing or toasting.

She explains in De Dub Poets her desire “to work within a form whose aim was to increase the dynamism of poetry, to increase it’s impact and immediacy, a poetic form that could incorporate many aspects of other art forms: performance, drama, fiction, theatre” and other elements. Her records “Revolutionary Tea Party” (1986) and “Conditions Critical” (1988) won Juno awards.

Allen co-founded the Dub Poetry Collective in between publishing books and performing live before assuming a new role, as a professor, at OCAD University.

Allen is currently developing a new BFA program in creative writing. The program will include performing, digital art forms and other elements integral to creative expression in 2019.

 

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

 

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Click here to listen to Lillian Allen’s new single on S.A.C.’s Spotify playlist Ep. 5 Black History Songwriters Series

 

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Playlist:

Song: Revolutionary Tea Party

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Rub A Dub Style Inna Regent Park

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Conditions Critical

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: I Dream a Redwood

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: AllMusic

 

Song: Woken & Unbroken

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Spotify

 

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

A Conversation With Miranda Mulholland

Bill King was a recent guest on Blair Packham and Bob Reid’s In the Studio radio hour at Newstalk 1010, where Blair introduced him to Miranda Mulholland, a Canadian fiddle player and singer. In this interview Miranda talks about her festival, the Sawdust City Music Festival, and tells us what is upcoming for her this summer.

Read the full FYI Music News interview here!

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Follow Miranda on social media

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BlueBird North is now SongBird North

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This name change announcement from Bluebird North to SongBird North concerns the showcase concert series presented by the Songwriters Association of Canada and sponsorship partners across Canada. We asked the Vancouver series’ host, Shari Ulrich, to write a statement outlining the idea behind the change.

“I performed at the very first Bluebird North presented by Amy Sky and Marc Jordon in Toronto almost 25 years ago. Other than Folk Festival workshops, I’d never experienced a song circle and fell in love with the format. In 1995, fellow board member Ron Irving launched the event in Vancouver, and for 21 years now I have produced and eventually hosted the series. When the word came that we would have to change the name, after some passionate whining, I quickly realized, it isn’t the name that makes the event so special, it is the remarkable songwriters from across the country, who say yes to sharing a stage with other great writers and their songs with the most appreciative audiences a songwriter could ever hope to have. Every evening is unique, magical, enlightening and highly entertaining. Songbird North will certainly be soaring long into the future thanks to the vision of the SAC.”

– SongBird North YVR Vancouver, Host – Shari Ulrich.

Checkout the SongBird Vancouver Facebook Page

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@SongwritersofCa

Checkout the website for more details.

Songwriters Update!

Intro SongBird North Slide

 

This name change announcement from Bluebird North to SongBird North concerns the showcase concert series presented by the Songwriters Association of Canada and sponsorship partners across Canada.  We asked the Toronto series’ producer, Blair Packham, to write a statement outlining the idea behind the change.

“For more than 20 years, the S.A.C. has presented the regular concert series that we called Bluebird North. A showcase for accomplished Canadian songwriters—four sitting in a row—each performance was unique, but they all shared some key elements: a celebration of the art and craft of songwriting, complete with road stories about hits and misses, and plenty of humour along the way. Decades ago, when I was asked to take over as producer of the Toronto shows, I wanted to change its name because I wanted to make it ours, not a tribute to some place faraway. That didn’t happen for a variety of good reasons, and in the interim, we in the lineup, there would be a good show that night. For the 2017/2018 season at the Royal Conservatory of  Music, we’ve decided to make that name change, but the shows themselves will remain reliably the same: excellent songwriters trading songs and stories, singing, playing and laughing together. We’re calling it SongBird North, as a nod to our glorious past and our promising future, not to mention our Canadian geography, which so often shapes the songs we write and sing.”

— Blair Packham

Songwriters Association of Canada