Steele teaches songwriting at SongRise

Aspiring songwriters will write new tunes, record them, and perform them for an audience, at the SongRise Music Industry Conference and Showcase in Red Deer.

Aspiring songwriters will write new tunes, record them, and perform them for an audience, at the SongRise Music Industry Conference and Showcase in Red Deer.

On Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, seasoned songwriters such as Red Deer-based country musician Duane Steele, will help up-and-coming tune-smiths of all ages unravel some of the mysteries of creating original music at the Scott Block.

After new songs are written, they will be rehearsed by the participants, and recorded with the help of Calgary sound engineer Josh Gwilliam.

“And the really exciting thing,” said Steele, is this just-written music will be performed for a live audience at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, at the Scott Block. Community members can attend the SongRise concert. Tickets are $20 at the door or from, and there’s a cash bar.

Starting Friday, Steele and other instructors will help aspiring songwriters fine-tune their efforts by examining what elements make a song great — from radio-friendly tunes, such as Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler, to less predictable ones, such as Led Zeppelin’s Going to California.

The parameters are wide, as there’s no real right or wrong with songwriting, said Steele, a two-time Canadian Country Music Award winner who is best known for the No. 1 hit Anita Got Married.

He noted even the Beatles wrote both formulaic (Love Me Do) and non-formulaic (A Day in the Life) music.

Conference participants will get professional tips on how to improve their tunes. And those who have never written a song before will learn how to start.

“We’re all about inspiring, not expiring, people’s creativity, so we’ll be pretty gentle with our criticism… We’ll steer them in the right direction,” said Steele.

About 30 people of all ages, who are either in the music business, or thinking about it, are expected to attend the SongRise conference that will include sessions on vocal coaching, financial aspects and website design.

This is the second time the music industry-themed event is being held in Red Deer. It was started nine years ago in Peace River by musicians Sherry Crawford and Dana Blayone of the band No Limitz, and will still be held in that community on May 13 and 14.

Only a few spots remain open at the Red Deer conference.

For more information, or to register, please visit

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