​Canadian Songwriter Challenge 2020

​Presented by Bell Media

The Canadian Songwriter Challenge returns in 2020 with a new online format for emerging BC artists and songwriters. We are thrilled to announce the top 15 teams for the #CSC2020 #AloneTogether challenge.


Let us take a moment to celebrate all of this year’s incredible songwriters, and congratulate Moxon & Maurice, FRASE & FAWNA, Jessia & Wayfie, Sarah Stark and Nicky McKenzie and Riun Garner and Tyler Paterson – they will be awarded $1000 towards recording their #AloneTogether single. Thank you to everyone who participated in, followed and voted in this year’s challenge.

LISTEN TO THE 15 Singles

Meet The Top 15

JESSIA & Wayfie are two Vancouver based artists that met earlier this year. They have wanted to collaborate on a duet ever since, and they have finally been able to with “Just A Dream”.

Riun Garner & Tyler Paterson – 2020 WINNER
Riun Garner (www.riungarner.com/music) – known professionally as an actor and director, currently has his first single ‘Trouble’ out now on all streaming platforms, and officially will be debuting his EP “All We Know and All We Forget” on June 19th, a stripped down and intimate record which captures something fragile and heart breaking inspired by the likes of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, and early Bon Iver. Tyler Paterson of ‘Bodies’ and ‘Tsunami Aki’ (www.soundcloud.com/tsunami-aki), has self produced four stunning full length albums described as bedroom garage pop drawing in all the love with his acute notes and heart-tugging lyrics, while also designing and running his own clothing line ‘Sweet Demon’, which is a collision of street fashion, film, and art.

Sarah Stark and Nicky Mackenzie – 2020 WINNER
Sarah Stark (Vancouver) and Nicky Mackenzie (Salt Spring Island) met at Nimbus School of Recording and Media in September 2019 during their audio engineering class. The two quickly became collaborators, combining their soulful vocals and honest lyrics in their songwriting. Though both young, they write with an authenticity that is easily relatable and captures their audiences.

First started singing together back in 2015 and sparks were flying. Their buttery smooth vocal delivery paired perfectly together and they started performing as a duo at a local Montreal watering hole. Then FRASE got offered to tour the world with his solo project and moved to BC and their collaborations took a back seat. Now with the bonus time the lockdown has provided the duo have reunited to write songs together long-distance with a new FAWNA ep on the horizon.

Moxon and Maurice – 2020 WINNER
Dan Moxon and JP Maurice are two Vancouver musicians and friends. Dan Moxon is best known for fronting the band Bend Sinister who have released over 8 albums and toured the world. JP has been been performing and releasing music as a solo artist for just as long, and the the two met long long ago in a world still with music festivals.

WTRFRNT first met in a blind co-write for a Socan Songcamp Monday and instantly clicked. Comprised of rising indie-pop artist Biawanna, producing songwriter INJA (Nathan Chiu) and topline singer/songwriter Sammi Morelli, WTRFNT brings a dynamic and diverse approach to any session or project they collaborate on. They are also currently conspiring to write an ode to Fallout.

Better Together
The Victoria born duo “Better Together” features the 21 year old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Grayson Lenner, and his partner in crime Kirsten Mar. Their song “Feels Like November”, combines harmony, thoughtful lyrics, and catchy melodies, with the intent to capture the listener’s attention and mirror their feelings regarding the current, and tragic pandemic. With your support, the team strives to make the top 5 in the challenge, and get the chance to further share, and create new music.

Cool Beans
Matt Storm is a singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based out of Vancouver BC. Bukola is an 18 year old R&B musician whose influences include John Mayer, Daniel Caesar and Amy Winehouse. Together, they are the Cool Beans!

Steph Macpherson and Noah Edwards
Steph Macpherson and Noah Edwards are singer/songwriters based out of Victoria, BC. They joined forces for a tour of Western Canada in 2015 and have been friends ever since. Their distinctive styles create a mix of laid back and upbeat vibes and the pair look forward to the challenge of collaborating with each other and the mentors in the Canadian Songwriter Challenge 2020.

Tess and Tissa
Tissa Rahim is an RnB songstress with a Middle Eastern flare. Tess Anderson is an alternative-pop singer-songwriter raised on the West Coast. The two struck up a friendship in 2019 after meeting at a songwriting workshop, and recently performed together at the Music Heals “Let Her Sing” event.

Dan Beaulieu – Naomi Kavka – Justin Gendreau
We do not yet know in what form our lives as musicians will exist after quarantine, yet this music, born out of a first collaboration between three friends, would not have existed without these circumstances.This is a project about being alone together that was made together alone – with excitement about the potential that collaboration brings for those privileged enough to experience the now heightened paradox of simultaneous isolation and connection. This experience came about in uncertain times as the result of newfound trust and commitment, which we could not have anticipated to have existed before suddenly, it did.

DMO consists of Singer/Songwriter/Musicians, Dani Le Rose, Michael Meroniuk and Omar Khan. Each member brings their own unique individual flare with influences ranging from Pop, Dance, Rock to R&B, Hip Hop all the way to Bluegrass and Folk.

Connor Neidig & Ashley Pater (ft. KIN)
Award-winning singer/songwriter Ashley Pater, musician/producer/composer Connor Neidig, and artist Kay Lee have brought their creativity together to create this extremely talented team. Performing since the age of nine in front of audiences all over North America Ashley has teamed up with Delta-born gifted guitarist Connor, and hailing from Surrey, Kay’s outrageous musical talents.

“The Vacays” is a team that consists of the following three local and talented musicians: Nathan Chiu, Dacey Andrada, and Amelia Mann. After focusing on their individual musical careers and navigating their ways through the vibrant Vancouver music industry, they have now come together as a team to co-write specifically for this challenge. These three musicians are a force to be reckoned with, and are willing to give it their all during this challenge! Keep your eyes peeled for this team!

Glen and Molly
Molly and Glen are singer/songwriters from Vancouver. They thrive by turning their feelings into songs, and they find their best lyrics at the most inconvenient times.

About the CSC

The Canadian Songwriter Challenge is a project of the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations, supported by Bell Media, Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia. This is the 6th edition of the Canadian Songwriter Challenge and is proudly hosted by Music BC. The challenge will begin on May 9th and includes educational workshops overseen by experienced mentors in order to provide a practical toolkit to help songwriters develop their skills in the craft of writing unique, commercially aware songs.

Previous mentors have included Kinnie Starr, Dave Genn (54-40), Carly McKillip (One More Girl), Jeff Dawson, Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother), Shaun Verreault (Wide Mouth Mason), Elisa Pangsaeng (Data Romance, You Say Party, and Juno winner Shad), and Blair Packham (Toronto Song Studio). This year, we’re proud to welcome back Dave Genn, Carly McKillip, and Kinnie Starr, and are excited to announce that Danielle McTaggart (Dear Rouge) and Tyler Bancroft (Said the Whale) will be joining our roster of mentors!

In today’s circumstances, this year’s Canadian Songwriter Challenge is focusing on the strength, creativity and resilience of our songwriters and creators. That’s why this year we’re challenging participants to collaborate on a song speaking to the theme of “Alone Together”. The project will take place entirely online, requiring our 15 teams of 2-3 to work together remotely on their song during the challenge. Participants will also take part in webinars on the anatomy of a song and the business of songwriting. Through the writing process, each team will be assigned a mentor to offer feedback and a critique of their song, with the final recording demos to be presented to the public and the industry at large for a final voting round that will help our jury of mentors decide on this year’s Top 5 songs to be professionally recorded in an eligible* BC studio of their choice.

*A sample of eligible studios can be found HERE.

How It Works

Applications open April 16th and close April 26th at 11:59PM (PST) and are open to emerging artists and songwriters from across BC. Our jury of mentors will select 15 teams of 2-3 to participate in the challenge commencing May 9th, with the final song demo to be uploaded publicly to Youtube by May 15th, 2020 at 11:59PM (PST). This year the 15 songs on our theme of #AloneTogether will be opened to the public for 5 days of online voting, with votes counting towards a small portion of the final score decided by our team of mentors. The 5 winning songs will then be announced on June 1st, 2020.

  • Select your team of 2-3 members and begin co-writing a song that speaks to the theme “Alone Together”. Your team has until April 26th at 11:59PM (PST) to formulate your concept and submit your demo along with your application.
    *No more than 50% of the team should consist of current bandmates. We encourage applicants to challenge themselves by writing with artists or songwriters who they haven’t released music with before.
  • Before the April 26th deadline: Upload your private, unlisted demo to Youtube, making sure to list your song’s working title, team of songwriters as well as a brief explanation on your process and inspiration for the demo in the video description.
  • Submit the private link and fill in the rest of the application form here.
    *Please note you will not be able to save and return to the form so it is suggested to record your answers in a separate document and copy/paste them into the application form when ready.
  • Music BC will check each application for eligibility as defined by our Guidelines and Eligibility before our team of mentors review and select 15 teams from the approved list of submissions. These 15 teams will advance forward into the challenge (May 9th – May 15th) where they will rework, expand and perfect their demo with guidance from their assigned mentor and from concepts discussed in the educational webinars.
    *All components will be offered remotely, with participants working from home. Music BC will facilitate Zoom conferences and group sessions for each component.
  • Teams will have until Friday, May 15th at 11:59PM (PST) to finalize their demo, upload it publicly to YouTube with the song title, songwriters and tagging #AloneTogether #CSC2020 #MyMusicBC. Teams will also be required to complete a final form which will require an mp3 upload of the demo, URL to public Youtube listing, songwriter names with splits, recording studio of choice, and name of the artist(s) who will be recording the final version should they be granted one of the top 5 prizes.
  • The public will have 5 days (May 18th – May 22nd) to vote on the songs they’d like to hear a radio-ready version of. Public voting will count for a small portion of the final score decided by our mentors. The jury will score the songs based on lyrics, originality, musicality and how well it speaks to our theme of “Alone Together”. The top 5 songs will be announced on June 1st, 2020 with each team receiving $1,000 CAD to record, mix, and master their song at an eligible BC studio of their choice.
    *Music BC will arrange and purchase studio time directly when physical-distancing restrictions are lifted in the near future.

Guidelines and Eligibility

Please download and review The Canadian Songwriter Challenge 2020 Guidelines and Eligibility.


The challenge is incredible. Co-writing is one of the hardest things to do as an artist, and this throws you right into the middle of it with no time to think. The mentors are amazing and always dedicated valuable time to help work through any issues/creative blocks. Truly though, the other songwriters and the relationship you have at the end of the process is what makes this such a fun experience.

2019 Canadian Songwriter Challenge Participant

Thank you to Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia, The CCMIA and Bell Media for their support in this initiative.


Danielle McTaggart is a Juno-Award winning frontwoman and songwriter for the pop/alternative band “Dear Rouge”. With songs like “I Heard I Had” and “Live Through The Night” winning songwriting prizes and hitting #1 on the alternative charts, Danielle’s passion is to write songs that authentically connect with an audience.



Tyler Bancroft is a founding member of JUNO award winning Vancouver-based band Said The Whale. Throughout it’s decade-plus career, the group have amassed a loyal following across Canada and beyond, achieved several top-5 radio songs including a #1 hit at the Alternative format, and sold over 70,000 records. Tyler has been instrumental in the professional development of the band, and has helped them gain a reputation for employing creative out-of-the-box marketing techniques and using technology to create unique levels of access to the band. 


DAVE GENN (54-40)

Multiple Juno Award-winner Dave Genn is a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and performer whose musical pedigree exhibits a diversity and scope that spans over thirty years in the business. Since 2003 Dave has been the lead guitarist for Canadian alt-rock heroes and Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame inductees 54-40, appearing as a writer, producer and performer on the band’s albums “Yes To Everything”, “Northern Soul”, ”Lost in the City”, “La Difference”, and “Keep On Walking”, while performing over seven hundred shows with the group. 

Prior to his tenure with 54-40 Dave was a member of the Matthew Good Band from ’95 until ’01. During his time with MGB Dave was the co-writer, lead guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist on the number-one hits “Apparitions”, “Hello Time Bomb”, “Load Me Up” and “Strange Days”. In 2000 the Matthew Good Band received Juno Awards in the categories Best Group and Best Rock Album for “Beautiful Midnight”. Working closely with chart-toppers Hedley throughout their early career, Dave acted as a co-writer, session musician, and producer for the band, helping craft the number-one hits “Gunnin’”, “For the Nights (I Can’t Remember)” and “Perfect”. He also co-produced career-making hit singles for pop-rock juggernaut Marianas Trench, including the number- ones “Shaketramp”, “Cross My Heart” and “All to Myself”. Dave has written, produced, recorded and performed with artists as talented and diverse as Art Bergmann, Daniel Wesley, Thornley, DSK, The Grapes of Wrath, Strapping Young Lad, Holly McNarland, Faber Drive, Bif Naked, The Lowest of the Low, Emm Gryner, Lillix, Ten Second Epic, Northcote, Pure, The Jins, Kandle, Elli Hart, and Mise En Scene, among many others. 

Dave’s soundtrack work for film has garnered him three Leo Award nominations to date. His notable scores for the short films “Direct Lines” (’95), “Second Date” (’99), “The Dogwalker” (’03), and “The Flying Lion” (’07) led him to compose the original soundtrack for the feature film “Old Stock” in 2013. Directed by his brother James Genn, “Old Stock” was produced in conjunction with the Canadian Film Centre, distributed by E1 Entertainment and received glowing critical reviews throughout it’s theatrical release and tour of the international film festival circuit, as well as a Leo Award nomination for Best Feature Length Score. Dave contributed score for the National Geographic documentary “Yukonna” in ’98, and more recently wrote and produced three exclusive original songs for the CAPCOM video game title “Dead Rising 3”. He has acted in the capacity of Musical Director for award shows as well, most notably the NHL Awards ’07 and Canadian Video Game Awards ’12. Dave continues to contribute production and composition for many television and film projects, and in 2019 provided the score and ambient music for the museum exhibit “Victoria the T.Rex”, currently touring American museums for years to come. 

Dave is the son of the celebrated late Canadian artist Robert Genn. He lives in Vancouver, B.C. with his wife, former CTV News Anchor Tamara Taggart, their three children, Airedale terrier George, and Mexican rescue Penelope. Dave’s one singular hope is to witness the Vancouver Canucks lift Lord Stanley’s Cup during his lifetime.


Carly McKillip (One More Girl)

Carly McKillip has built an impressive resume in the entertainment industry that reflects her creative scope, talent, drive and accolades. Known as an Actress(multiple roles in movies and series including lead Alice McLeod in CTV’s critically acclaimed “Alice I Think”); Songwriter (dozens of co-writes with award-winning writers such as Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), Sarah Buxton (Keith Urban), Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow), Richard Marx and Linda Perry; Musician (multiple B.C.C.M.A. winner for “Keyboard Player of the Year” & three-time nominee of the corresponding C.C.M.A. award); Engineer/Editor (The Fray, Jonathan Cain, Journey, The Timejumpers, John Oates); Producer (David James, The Heels, Warner Music recording artist Meghan Patrick for which she won the 2017 CCMA ‘Producer of the Year’); Carly is probably best known as Artist, being half of the multi-award winning Canadian country duo One More Girl with her sister, Britt.



Starr’s career has taken her around the world – across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia, but she is first and foremost an artist and activist. Her activism began before her career in music as a visual artist, and her current visual work continues to touch on her areas of interest: race, home, family and humanity. Her upcoming album, Feed the Fire, is about hope and despair in perilous times and reconnecting with our truest selves.