Scholarships will help Alberta musicians hone their craft

The Prophets of Music Emerging Artist Scholarship Program recently unveiled the first three artists who will be taking part in a new initiative, the next step in a long process that helps create artistic beauty out of tragedy.

In a special reveal event at the newly opened National Music Centre (NMC) Aug. 11, Dan Owen, owner of OCL Studios, announced the Calgary folk-pop group The Ashley Hundred, beachside pop wizard Brett McCrady and Edmonton based alt-rockers Rend will be the first three Alberta artists to take part in the program.

The Prophets of Music was formed in early 2015 to commemorate the murders of Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell, two talented musicians and members of the Calgary group Zackariah and the Prophets.

Also killed in the tragic attack on April 15, 2014, were Kati Perras, Jordan Segura and Lawrence Hong, friends attending a Brentwood house party to celebrate the end of classes at the University of Calgary. Matthew de Grood faced five charges of first-degree murder, but in May he was found not criminally responsible because of his mental state at the time. 

While the murder of five young people shocked the city — repeatedly deemed to be “Calgary’s worst mass killing” by local media — the deaths of Rathwell, 21, and Hunter, 23, had a big impact on the local music scene. The duo and their band were honoured during the Juno Award festivities in Calgary in March, while Kyle Tenove and Barry Mason, the two remaining members of Zackariah and the Prophets, joined many local musicians in raising funds to commemorate the loss of their kindred spirits.

RendHailing from Edmonton, Rend is a fusion of gritty rock and roll with angsty electro-pop. The group was presented with their scholarship by Dan Owen (centre) and includes Carole-Lynn Quinn (centre left) on vocals and keyboards, Jeff Quinn (left) on bass, Steve Roe (right) on guitar and Jordan Dempster who was not able to attend the event. The group is excited to be a part of the Prophets of Music program, getting a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best mentors in Canadian music. Photo by Jodi Brak Regarding the Prophets of Music scholarship, Jory Kinjo, a mentor with the program, said, “I just want young musicians to have the opportunities I didn’t necessarily have and that’s a really beautiful thing to come from such a tragedy.”

The Emerging Artist Scholarship offers mentorship, studio time at OCL Studios to record an EP, and networking opportunities for artists at a pivotal point in their career.

“Artists who are selected as part of the program are provided with mentorship and education in music fundamentals, artistic development, performance, production, business essentials and brand development,” said Owen, who emceed the event at the NMC. “We went through an exhaustive process of going out for applications, and we had 48 different artists submit. It was tough to sift through all of those applications, but these are the three that came through. We are just at the start of this program and it is going to be a lot of fun.”

Beyond the music, artists will get a chance to learn more about the business side of the industry, as well as areas such as promotion and public relations which may not be the first things a musician thinks of.

“This feels like it is going to be such a rewarding experience. It’s more than just a grant,” says McCrady, one of the Calgary-based artists in the program. “You get a grant and you say, ‘Okay, cool, now what do I do with this?’ But this gives you a team of people who are behind you, support that would be really hard to come by otherwise, people from so many different backgrounds that I would never have met. It just felt like a home run, like I knocked it out of the park even though I figured I was going to miss the swing.”

McCrady2Originally from Vancouver, Brett McCrady moved to Calgary in 2012 and immediately fell in love with the bustling live music scene. He writes happy, beach-side pop songs to make the darkest days seem a little bit brighter. He is very excited to learn the ins and outs of the music business with the help of experienced mentors. Photo by Jodi Brak

Being a part of the Prophets of Music program puts these artists in touch with some of the biggest names in Canadian recording, such as Vancouver-based producer Howard Redekopp, who has worked with Tegan and Sara as well as The New Pornographers, and Scott Henderson, a Canadian talent manager and vocal coach. They will also receive mentoring from Wayne Logan, a Canadian entertainment lawyer who can teach artists how to read through the fine print of record deals, performance contracts and licensing agreements.

“Honestly it’s just been such a thrill thinking about what’s coming next, working with these amazingly talented people, learning so many new things, and of course, making an awesome recording,” said Carol-Lynne Quinn, lead vocalist of Rend.

At the end of the program, each artist will be given the opportunity to record a professionally produced and mastered album at OCL Studios in Calgary.

These musicians will also be brought into the Prophets of Music Society, working with the next trio of artists who will be part of the program in 2017. McCrady says one of the most exciting parts of this opportunity for him is becoming part of a network of mentors for up-and-coming musicians.

“What’s very cool about it as well is they are very focused on creating almost a family around this whole program,” he said. “Once we are done in the program, we’ll have an ongoing relationship with the future acts that go through the program, kind of transitioning into a mentor role.”

DanDan Owen, owner of OCL Studios and a longtime partner of the Prophets of Music program, acted as emcee on Aug. 11 at the special reveal event in the National Music Centre where the 2016 participants in the Emerging Artist Scholarship Program were unveiled. He will also work with each artist as they record an EP at OCL Studios. Photo by Jodi Brak

The unveiling of the Prophets of Music program marks another step forward in providing opportunities for Alberta musicians to receive the support they need to advance their music and showcase the exceptional talent and culture being fostered in the province.

Thumbnail photo by Jodi Brak 

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