CANADIAN SONGWRITER CHALLENGE: Manitoba Music Connects Songwriting Mentors with Emerging Local Artists for Summer Songwriter Retreat

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Katie MacDonald
Jocelyne Baribeau
JP Hoe
Katie MacDonald
Mitchell James
Quinton Blair
Rusty Matyas
The Middle Coast

Manitoba Music is gearing up for the second edition in its songwriter development series with the help of a Bell Media national songwriting initiative. Slated for August 22-24, the Manitoba Music Summer Songwriter Retreat will combine co-writing opportunities with creative mentorship, connecting homegrown songwriting mentors with emerging Manitoba talent to strengthen their songwriting chops through collaboration.   

Taking place in a tranquil cabin setting in the Whiteshell, the three-day co-writing retreat will incorporate co-writing, songwriting mentorship, demo recording, and discussions on the business of professional songwriting.

Mentors include JUNO-winning artist Alexa Dirks (Chic Gamine, Begonia), Western Canadian Music Award-winning producer/songwriter/performer Dana “Rusty” Matyas (Imaginary Cities, The Waking Eyes), and acclaimed singer/songwriter JP Hoe. As well as songwriting, the mentors also bring connections and experience with different parts of the songwriting industry.

This year’s session features a diverse group of performing songwriters spanning several genres, including R&B/pop act Heather Thomas of ATLAAS, Francophone artist Jocelyne Baribeau, folk/pop artist Katie MacDonald, pop/roots artist Mitchell Schimnowski, country artist Quinton Blair, and yacht rocker Roman Clarke of The Middle Coast.

Manitoba Music has a long history of songwriter development initiatives, including a series of Songwriter in Residence events with the likes of Hawksley Workman and Tom Wilson, producing local versions of the Songwriters Association of Canada's SongWorks, and songwriter retreats at FortWhyte Alive.  

This iteration of Summer Songwriter Retreat is part of a national project, dubbed the Canadian Songwriter Challenge. A multi-year partnership between the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) and Bell Media, CCMIA's member music industry associations will be organizing songwriter-focused events across the country this summer.

Previous co-writing sessions have yielded stellar results. Ruth Moody’s collaboration with Royal Canoe's Matt Peters and producer Derek Norton, "We Can Only Listen, was featured on her JUNO Award-nominated album, The Garden. Western Canadian Music Award-winning producer Arun Chaturvedi and Sony/ATV Music Publishing artists Phil Deschambault and Heather Longstaffe, have all received multiple placements in film, television, and commercials based on music conceived at the retreat.

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