The third weekend in April 2019, on Saturday the 20th, Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative will host its first fundraiser, where Canadian songwriter and musician, Nancy Beaudette will perform in the evening after facilitating a workshop in songwriting during the day. SBWC’s Paula Castner spoke with Nancy to talk about her experiences in music and about her workshop.
(PAULA CASTNER) Let’s begin by telling folks a little about your background, how you got interested in songwriting and performing, and how long you have been singing.
(NANCY BEAUDETTE) It all seemed to happen naturally for me, like learning to hold a fork or ride a bike. I loved to sing and was constantly making up little ditties long before I could play an instrument. When a guitar appeared under the Christmas tree at age eleven, an avalanche of songwriting began. All these years later, I’m still as passionate about writing and performing as that young sparkly-blue-eyed girl.
(PC) You will be performing for SBWC’s April 20th, 2019, comedy show and concert night, but you will also be leading a workshop on songwriting during the day. As you think about songwriting, in what ways is it similar to writing in general, whether fiction or nonfiction? In what ways is it different?
(NB) On average, it takes 3 hours to read a novel and only 3 minutes to listen to a song, yet both have the ability to tell a story with a beginning, middle and ending. Songwriters have to think about character development, the scene setting and point of view, while being so concise with language that a complete story can be told in one short time slot. The other major difference between writing a book or a song is, of course, music. The goal of the music is to marry the lyric in a glorious embrace of emotion. When it’s done well, that song stays with us for an eternity.
(PC) For folks who might not be interested in writing songs but who are writers, are there any elements to learning how to write songs, which could also help any writer, regardless of what they write?
(NB) Yes, definitely. One of the best lessons I had early on in my career came from a mentor, who after listening to one of my song drafts, said, “Great. Now go and eliminate half of the words.” We are crafters of the language in constant pursuit of connection with an audience. As writers, every time we explore new genres, we gain insight, and may just find the line or word that’s been eluding us. We are all engaged in the creative process so exposure to new disciplines is priceless.
(PC) As you write your songs, what begins the process for you for a new song, and how do you go about writing your songs?
(NB) Inspiration is everywhere, but we need to pay attention, or it will pass us by. Like yoga or law, I approach songwriting as a ‘practice’. I have a daily routine of stream writing and word mapping. I also listen to lots of music and analyze the work of writers I admire. This practice prepares me to not only recognize a great idea, but also to dig deep into my subconscious for memories and experiences that will make the idea come to life. If you’d like to follow along and watch a lyric come to life from start to finish, you should get a copy of my book, “SongC.R.A.F.T. – Writing Songs In Your Authentic Voice”!
(PC) Do your songs fit a particular category? If so, what specifically defines the category for which you write songs?
(NB) I think ‘folk’ best describes my genre. I’m a storyteller, lover, daughter, adventure traveller, and spiritual being. I’ve experienced tremendous joy and devastating sorrow and have a deep compassion for all life. That is my genre.
(PC) Folks are being invited to attend the April 20th, 2019, comedy show and concert event. As you think about your singing and your songs, what do you think will resonate with folks if they attend?
(NB) There is definitely something special about being part of a live show. For a couple of hours, you get to be entertained without worrying about anything else. If we can do that, the show will have been a success. There’s also the chance that someone will hear exactly the message they needed to hear, to help them navigate a struggle or step into their own creative journey. I’ve witnessed this many times, and it is a beautiful thing to see.