relay for life

Writing To Order – A Good Thing

I have been asked to write for specific occasions several times and am in the middle of writing two at the moment.

There is something about being given the subject matter that makes it really enjoyable to write songs to order. The limitations bypass the problem of what to write about. It’s already there. This is an area where restrictions can really come in useful!

In my comedy days I would often have to write a funny song for a corporate event and was given specific people and things to make fun of. I didn’t particularly enjoy this type of writing, partly because it was a one off and I never got to play the song again, so my heart was never really in it.

But my first serious writing to order was for the Relay for Life in 2006. This song just seemed to jump from the pen to the page. My brain had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was the fact that I had dealt with cancer in my family but the song really seemed to write itself. It is now played at Relay for Life events all around the world and it is a song I feel very proud to have written (it was also my Mum’s favorite song of mine). Click here to listen.

Then I wrote a song for ‘A Fighting Spirit’ for a group of local photographers who donated their time to photograph critically ill children. Another song that wrote itself in less than 30 minutes. I play this song live each year at the YANA auction alongside an amazing slideshow by the very talented Karen McKinnon.

Now been asked to write for ‘Helping Hearts‘, another group that does the same thing, but country-wide. Having a couple of kids makes it uncomfortably easy to imagine what you might feel if one of them were very sick and so another song is jumping onto the page and will be finished soon.

As a result of these songs I have my first non-charity song commission for photographer Michele Regner. One of my existing songs is already used on another photographer’s website – Jerry Vergel. But this photographer has asked me to write specifically for her site. I have asked her what she wants people to feel when they visit her site or watch a slide show which will help me convey her vision in a song.

So this got me thinking about song writing. Maybe these constraints make it easier for our brains to really delve into the subject without having to think “what am I writing about?”. I tried this out when I wrote a song after reading a book and another which I used the character from a movie. I found it got me out of my own head and into the head of other’s lives and situations.

So next time you are writing and get stuck have a think back to the last book your found interesting or a character from a TV drama. I try to avoid stuff that is happening to friends or people around me as it can get you into trouble!! 🙂

2010 – an interesting year!

2010 started with a flurry of placements, which continued throughout the year and I was still in full swing writing my Song of the Week. While still reeling from the death of a close friend, a lot of the later Song of the Week songs touched on mortality from different angles, but I ended the project with a song for my amazingly supportive husband!

Song of the week ended in early April and I rewarded myself and family with a trip to Disneyland. While there I got my first network TV placement on Ghost Whisperer.

May 20th I released 13 of the Song of the Week songs on an album and simply called it Song of the Week. I then started the whole marketing thing all over again but it was fun having a whole load of new, beautifully mastered songs to give to my wonderful publishers.

June was a sad month. I lost my Mum while, ironically, while playing the Relay for Life song at our local relay.It was her favourite song of mine and she had been battling cancer for many years.

July is one of my fave months because I get to be mainstage MC with Todd Butler at Vancouver Island Musicfest. We also got to play songs together too, which lead to us doing gig together in November just for the fun of it! July also saw me attempt the 50 songs in 90 days challenge which I failed miserably, but I got a new album out of it (see Dec).

August was New York month. Getting to see a movie my songs were in, playing a gig and lots of shopping and eating with a good friend… what more could a girl want? I was also mid blog challenge for the book Music Success In Nine Weeks, which challenged some of my thoughts on music marketing.

September got me 2 ads and an album release in South Korea. My husband wants me to get a tour there… he loves the food! October I headed south of the border again, this time to Delaware for the DBMC where I made lots of new friends and got to sing lots too! We also started rehearsal for Voices Three, a big concert with Sue Pyper and Judy Wing to raise money for hospice.

November started with the Taxi Road Rally where I learned a ton and finally got to meet both of my lovely publishers who just as wonderful as I had suspected they would be. I also wrote my first serious article about music licensing after being asked so many times about how I got my music onto TV etc. It was a cathartic thing to write, reflecting on the madness of the intense single mindedness that is my life (until kids need feeding and taxiing).

So we’re at the end of December. I have a new album, Treehouse, that I am releasing on Jan 1st 2011 (tomorrow) along with a wonderful video that my talented 13 year old created for the title track. The songs will be on itunes and the vid on YouTube.

After an interesting year I have an interesting story for the end of the year that has nothing to do with music (although may affect my playing anything short term) …

Yesterday while skiing (my fave thing to do with my family) I was taken out by another skier getting some big air on a black run. After being taken down the mountain on a stretcher, had my clothes cut off me and sent to the hospital for xrays, I now have a fractured collar bone and lots of nice drugs to see me into 2011 (so please excuse any typos!).

There are some people I want thank for 2010 – pigFactory and Crucial, my wonderful publishers. Thanks for all the placements. Hans Dekline, the masterful masterer and Brian Hazard for asking me to write the licensing article. I love both of your fb comments and musings… always entertaining! To Jon Ostrow of Mic Control for his support of indie musicians and me! And to everyone who reads anything I write, listens to my songs, comments on my postings and generally makes me feel like I am on the right track. Every little word helps!

Here’s to a fantastic 2011. I hope it brings you great things!