The Craft of Songwriting

Written by Del Phillips

Songwriting may seem like an easy thing to master. We all hum and sing and make up lyrics but making a song that can actually take a comfortable form is a rare talent.

Kim June Johnson is such a rare and talented woman who will share her songwriting skills during the Denman Readers and Writers Festival in July.

Kim is a remarkable singer songwriter and poet from Hornby Island. Her third album, Canvas & Clay, was released in the fall of 2014. It was nominated for two Vancouver Island Music Awards, including “Album of the Year” and she won “Vocalist of the Year”. It was also chosen by Indie Acoustic Project as one of the top 21 Independently released albums of 2014. The album’s single, Oh June, was a regional finalist in the 2016 CBC Searchlight Competition. Kim’s live shows combine song, storytelling and poetry and are often performed in living rooms and small, intimate settings. Recently I asked Kim what drives her style of writing songs and how that translates in her workshops:

“I heard Jann Arden say, in an interview years ago, that when she started out writing songs, she just went into her basement and wrote a lot of them. “85 percent of them were crap, but the other 15% were good, so I kept them.

That statement changed my creative life. It shifted it from a perfectionist-based process to a more loose, generative one.

My workshop method is very hands-on, with teaching and writing prompts and songwriting tools weaving in and out of each other.

Because it turns out that a big part of making up songs is getting out of our own way, my aim in these workshops is to take the effort out of the songwriting process, and instead, shift it to a non-judgemental practice of being open, and simply getting words and chords down. Working with what we have and trusting our own voice is a big part of this. “

This promises to be a wonderful workshop. Kim June Johnson reminds participants that they should bring paper and something to write with. There will be handouts and Instruments are welcome but not required. The class will include directed songwriting time. The workshop is for beginners and experienced songwriters alike. Join her workshop on Thursday July 13/2017 from 2:00 til 5:00 pm at the Denman Island Community School. Limited number of spaces so register quickly.

 “Kim is a magician at unlocking the songwriting process. She has a way of cutting right to the quick of what is needed. Her approach was, for me, no less than transformational.” -Dean Clark, songwriter and founder of the Cochrane Valley Folk Club (coaching client)

Sample the music of Kim here

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