Retreat aids songwriters with insight

Sixteen-year-old Chanel Stasiuk had a chance to rewrite one of her own songs earlier this week — and she had the help of three award-winning songwriters to do it.

Sixteen-year-old Chanel Stasiuk had a chance to rewrite one of her own songs earlier this week — and she had the help of three award-winning songwriters to do it.

Stasiuk, who has been singing since she was five and playing the guitar since she was 14, was one of 15 participants in a two-day songwriter’s retreat held Sunday and Monday at Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community.

The retreat was a “pre-amp” for the fourth annual Vancouver Island Music Business Conference (VIMBC).

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and author Dan Hill; Ralph Murphy, author of Murphy’s Law of Songwriting and president of ASCAP Nashville, and Steve Wilkinson, producer and songwriter for the platinum-selling country band The Wilkinsons, co-hosted the retreat and offered tips and shared insights on how to craft a great song.

The 15 participants had one song critiqued by the three panelists on the first day of the retreat and talked about everything that goes into writing songs. During that evening and the next day, they had a chance to record their rewrite live.

On Day Two, the writers participated in small group co-writing sessions, with the mentors offering tips, suggestions and guidance.

Stasiuk, who is from Surrey, has been writing songs since she was 12, and she was only in the Valley for the retreat.

“It’s definitely so worth it,” she said. “I think my song’s improved a lot. I’ve never really analyzed my songs that much before. I’ve rewritten my song three times. It’s gone from something I would just leave and think it’s good to critically analyzing it and making it better.”

Stasiuk, who was most looking forward to the co-writing sessions, came to the retreat because Ron Irving, who has been helping her write her songs, suggested it would be a good experience.

VIMBC begins Wednesday and continues until Sunday.

During the conference, producers, promoters, songwriters, performers and publishers from across North America converge on the Comox Valley to participate in informational seminars, workshops, social events and performances.

Along with Hill, Murphy and Wilkinson, this year’s panelists include Jake Gold, a Canadian Idol judge, manager and label owner; Terry McBride, CEO and co-founder of Nettwerk Music Group; Tom Jackson, a live music producer who has worked with singers such as Taylor Swift; and Bill Henderson, Chilliwack’s lead singer and guitarist.

The conference features workshops and sessions on a variety of topics such as licensing, touring and marketing during the day and nightly headline performances and showcase acts at the Sid Williams Theatre, the Whistle Stop Pub, the Flying Canoe West Coast Pub and Zocalo Café and Gallery.

This year’s conference also encompasses the Vancouver Island Music Awards, which will be held Thursday night at the Sid Williams Theatre.

Delegate passes for VIMBC are still available at


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