Thursday, March 27, 2008

Canada's Bill Henderson - A Songwriter and Mentor

There's an article entitled - A Man of Music and Mentorship in a British Columbia daily (The Vernon Morning Star). The article features a look at Bill Henderson, his thoughts on songwriting and a look into his upcoming songwriting symposium in Vernon, B.C. I encourage you to read the entire article, but I've included some quotes here:

"When I was a kid, I was very timid," he said.

"Music was a channel that I could use where I could be myself and I felt comfortable being myself - the rest of the time, I didn't."


"But emotions and energies tend to get bottled up sometimes, and if people don't release them, they can be quite unhealthy . . . and people who feel that way can do some pretty strange things that society doesn't always feel all that good about."


A founding member of Chilliwack, one of the most-influential rock groups in Canada, and a Juno-award winning producer, Henderson has made music history in a career spanning four decades.

But escape wasn't his only muse and, in addition to tears, Henderson put a lot of blood and sweat into his music.

"I remember way back when people would tell me I was talented and they couldn't do what I did, and that really struck me as odd, because I had spent so many hours learning to do what I had done," he said.

"I sat up every night playing and playing and playing the guitar and trying to figure it out and working at it.

"It was a lot of hard work, but it's what I wanted to do. There's no question, there's nothing else I wanted to do more."

Now, along with band-mate Roy Forbes from his side project UHF, Henderson mentors aspiring songwriters.

In partnership with the George Ryga Centre, Henderson and Forbes will host a one-day songwriters symposium on April 5 in Kamloops and a songwriters weekend workshop with aspiring artists April 12 and 13 in Summerland.

Three dozen area songwriters, including four from Vernon, have been selected to participate and will learn tricks of the trade, as well as have their work critiqued at the workshops.

The 13th annual weekend workshop is being held at Ryga's former home, steeped in songwriting tradition.


"This is not an airy-fairy exercise. It's very down-to-earth," Henderson said.

"This is the real stuff of songwriting. This is what you have to learn to deal with before you can really write good songs."

Expecting a broad range of participants, Henderson added, he's looking forward to having his work cut out for him.

"There are some people who've got a few things figured out, which is great," he said.

"And there are people who are really at the beginning and obviously don't spend a lot of time working on it and I'm happy to help them learn."

At the top of his agenda? Commitment and curiosity.

"Maybe talent is not that you have the facility, but that you have the curiosity," Henderson said.

"It's just not so simple as someone has it and someone doesn't. Maybe the God-given gift is the desire to learn."

Sharing his gift not only with his students at the symposium, Henderson will take the stage at the Pavilion Theatre on April 4 alongside Forbes and with special guests Blu and Kelly Hopkins.

Tickets for the performance are available at Kamloops Live! Box Office, 1025 Lorne St., or by calling 250-374-7467.

If I was in Kamloops, I'd be going... May the Muse continue to be with this songwriting legend...

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