Austin boasts top song in international competition

Helen Austin topped the children's music category in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition for Always Be A Unicorn.

LOCAL SINGER-SONGWRITER Helen Austin will need to expand her trophy room if she keeps earning honours like first place in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition.

LOCAL SINGER-SONGWRITER Helen Austin will need to expand her trophy room if she keeps earning honours like first place in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition.

Comox Valley singer/songwriter Helen Austin topped the children’s music category in the prestigious International Songwriting Competition for Always Be A Unicorn.

The song — from her new album of the same name — is essentially about being yourself and dreaming big.

“I put a kids’ album out, not thinking anything of it, and entered it for the usual competitions, and was lucky enough to win a few,” said Austin, a mother of two who was named Female Songwriter and Artist of the Year at the 2011 Vancouver Island Music Awards.

This year, Austin earned a Juno Award nomination for Always Be A Unicorn.

She is also among 12 grand prize winners in various musical categories in the first session of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, an ongoing competition that culminates next year with $20,000 awarded to the song-of-the-year winner.

Franklin Bunn and Glenn Matullo of Atlanta, Ga., finished second at the ISC behind Austin for Wag More Feat, which features the Indigo Girls.

The latter are among the performers at the 2013 Vancouver Island MusicFest from July 12 to 14, as is Austin, a regular MusicFest performer/master of ceremonies.

Along with working on material for TV and film, Austin is soon releasing a collaborative EP called Big Little Irons.

“I’ve got an album that I did in L.A. last year, which is possibly being released in Germany soon, and then I’m going to do another kids’ album,” she said in an interview this week.

Established in 2002, the ISC is widely recognized as the world’s premier songwriting competition.

Austin was among 68 winners from 119 countries.

The stellar panel of judges for the 2012 competition included a who’s-who of the music industry.

Besides a bevy of industry executives, musician-songwriting judges included guitar legend Jeff Beck, Elton John’s writing partner Bernie Taupin, Duran Duran, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Bruce Hornsby, James Cotton, Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats, Cure frontman Robert Smith, legendary British bluesman John Mayall and Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers.