I’ve been deeply involved in the music community for nearly 30 years as a songwriter, musician, producer, mentor, and performance coach. For the past five years I’ve concentrated my efforts on assembling an ever expanding roster of gifted young songwriters. My passion is providing ‘my kids’ with mentorship, coaching, management, performance opportunities, networking, and access to a strong supportive community of Alberta songwriters.
I began penning songs at age 12 and was on the road touring from 18 to 30. The idea for coaching emerging songwriters stemmed from my own experiences as a young touring musician. I only wish I would have had someone around to help me find my authentic confidence and guide me to make better business and career decisions. As it was, I went down a lot of rabbit holes and found my confidence in all the wrong places, in particular with alcohol. Today I’m 17 years sober and a whole lot wiser. Life is about making a positive difference in the lives of others and I wanted to use my experiences to benefit young artists.
These days, the place most musicians will sell their CDs is from the stage. There are critical skills you need as a performer to have to keep touring and being rebooked. I prepare young songwriters for that journey by mentoring them about live performance and giving them opportunities to hone their craft. My goal is to draw out and enhance the artists genuine originality by instilling confidence through preparation. We work on the essential skills of how to consistently deliver a great live show, including mic technique, stage presence, understanding your audience, preparing for a show, on stage banter, crafting a set list, self promotion, applying for grants, etc.
Live performance venues know that when they hire an artist I have mentored, they can rest assured that the artist will deliver a genuinely engaging show.
It all started when I began running a Young Songwriter Showcase that ran quarterly from Riverdale Hall in Edmonton in 2005. Each session was absolutely swamped with kids clamouring for the chance to play on a stage with lights and sound production. The series was so successful that I was honoured with a Governor General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to a Community. The success of this little initiative showed me how essential it was not only to create performance opportunities for our youth but also to help them raise their overall performance skill level.
In 2006, I began hosting Edmonton’s first All Original Songwriter Stage every Sunday night. The all original aspect attracted full houses of emerging and veteran musicians each week. After each performance, I’d take time to give the artist some positive and helpful feedback. It was inspiring and deeply gratifying to witness the growth that happens with a little encouragement. Through the experience, I found my life’s passion in helping young musicians to spread their wings and soar.
In September of 2007, I left my position at CKUA Radio to launch U22 Music Productions. Under my leadership, U22 garnered province-wide attention and developed partnerships with media, festivals, funding partners, venues and communities. The mentor-led program was pivotal in launching the careers of dozens of young songwriters. In the fall of 2011, my journey with U22 ended and the concept for March Music and the School of Song was born.
I’m excited by the incredible community of songwriters across the Province who have formed supportive friendships, connections and access to networks of industry professionals as a result of the work I do and performance opportunities I present. The artists I work with are the industry leaders of tomorrow who will keep our festivals strong and our live music venues running.
I’m equally excited by the confidence and artistic growth that happens to the artists in our program. For example, when I first met Joe Nolan, he was 16 and could barely speak audibly into a microphone. Fast forward to today and Joe has been featured by me in more than 100 concerts including two appearances at Edmonton Folk Festival. He went on to being managed by Neil McGonigle, recording with Colin Linden, and has been signed with Mongrel Music. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.