Tom Wilson shares insights at SOCAN Songwriting Masterclass at 2017 Folk Music Ontario conference

Photo: Kathryn Hamilton
October 24, 2017

SOCAN presented a songwriting masterclass with Tom Wilson (of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings) at the 2017 Folk Music Ontario (FMO) Conference, held Oct. 19-21, 2017, at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites in Mississauga, ON.

The down-to-earth Wilson offered his considerable insights into the art and craft of the songwriting process while conducting the masterclass, held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Oct, 20, and attended by SOCAN Director, A&R, Rodney Murphy; A&R Administrator Melissa Cameron; and National Events Manager Kathryn Hamilton.

Among his highly quotable advice:

  • “[Songwriting] isn’t about a teachable structure, it's about an opening of the heart.”
  • “Writing for people's voices is the greatest gift I have as a co-writer. I love writing with great voices.”
  • On his publisher, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada: “They believe in me... they encourage my independence.”
  • You need to have a burning desire to be a songwriter: “If you don't need to do it, don’t.”
  • “Songwriting is a muscle. You need to exercise it, and condition that muscle, so you can write whenever.”
  • “Songwriting is a lonely game.”

Among the awards bestowed as part of the conference, AHI earned the 2017 Stingray Music Rising Star Award for his song “Ol' Sweet Day”; The Bombadils won the Recording Artist of the Year Award; and Magoo was honoured with the Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award.

The “Songs from The Heart” Award winners, in various categories, were:

  • Roots and Blues: Benjamin Dakota Rogers, for “The Soldier Song”
  • Children’s: Preetam Sengupta, for “Dream a Little”
  • Humorous: Doris Folkens, for “Lonesome in the Grave No More”
  • Instrumental: Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberté, of the group Sultans of String, for “Road to Kfarmishki”
  • Folk Music from Around the World: Chris McKhool and Richard Bona, for “Sing for Kwanzaa”
  • Political: Kate Weekes, for “Sing it to the Hills”

The FMO Conference is the main event for Ontario’s folk and roots music community. During this year’s FMO conference, more than 750 delegates enjoyed countless official and unofficial performer showcases, and benefitted from seminars, roundtable discussions, and panels with industry professionals. The FMO conference is funded in part by the SOCAN Foundation.

Written with files from Kathryn Hamilton