Canadian Songwriter Challenge 2019


  • May 3, 2019
  • May 4, 2019
  • May 5, 2019


Recording Arts Institute of Saskatoon (RAIS)

1926 Alberta Ave, Saskatoon, SK


In this songwriting retreat, taking place May 3-5, 2019 at RAIS in Saskatoon, a mix of nine songwriters will be selected and organized into 3 groups of 3 to collaborate on new songs. Demos will be recorded of newly written songs at the end of the challenge. The group leader this year is acclaimed singer-songwriter Alexa Dirks (Begonia)

Songwriters chosen for this event will receive some class instruction on co-writing etiquette and agreements, and songwriting technique, and have an opportunity to network and establish permanent collaborative partnerships. A travel bursary is available for those selected who will be travelling from outside of Saskatoon. A detailed schedule will be distributed to accepted songwriters. 

The Canadian Songwriter Challenge is a multi-year partnership between the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) and Bell Media.

Songwriters considered for this opportunity must:
- Be available full days on May 4 & 5th, along with a seminar on the evening of May 3.
- Be a current SaskMusic member and resident of Saskatchewan
- Be at an intermediate to advanced level of songwriting (you have a catalogue of material, have recorded some material, etc). Previous co-writing experience is not required.
- Be willing to enter into co-writing agreements specific to each song created during this event
- Agree to be photographed/videotaped for our reporting purposes

SaskMusic members of all genres are encouraged to apply. Participants from previous CSC events are welcome to apply again. A jury of industry professionals will select participants based on level of songwriting experience and, if possible, to reflect a range of genres.

There is no registration charge for those selected. Lunches and refreshments will be provided. Accommodations are at participants' own expense.

To be considered for this opportunity, apply here:

As Begonia, Alexa Dirks is bold, brazen with her florid, surprising pop that is tempered with sensitivity and wisdom. Dirks' first solo output with her 2017 debut EP, Lady in Mind, was well-received, being listed on NPR’s 10 Artists You Need To Know in 2017 and “Juniper” reached #1 on the CBC 2 Music Charts. Noisey wrote that, “Begonia has one of Canada’s most extraordinary voices, and thankfully she uses it to obliterate the misery from this world one live performance at a time.” NPR wrote that Begonia is “the place where synth-pop meets old soul and scrappy meets sexy."

Whether it’s learning to come into her own or processing a brutal heartbreak, Dirks’ intimate lyrics and audacious sound allows for her audience to relate to the messiness of life with an honesty that is refreshing.

On her latest single “The Light,” Dirks sings over soulful swells, her vocals curving around the notes of the song and making them explode as she bluntly tells us “hang up the phone and scream your name/ again, again/but I like the pain.” Who among us hasn’t wanted to rage and yell and yet curl into and find comfort in the things that brought us pain?

With Begonia’s debut full length album entitled 'Fear' expected next year, Dirks’ leans hard into a sense of arrival. She wrote and co-produced the record with a familiar team: Matt Schellenberg and Matt Petters of Royal Canoe, along with Marcus Paquin, who has previously worked with The National, Arcade Fire and Local Natives.