Executive Director Zoe Cunningham Shares Thoughts On “Women of S.A.C.” Livestream

Kat Harlton

The Songwriters Association of Canada recently announced the Celebration Series Songbird North Women of S.A.C. live stream concert on April 21st for an evening of songs and stories. The virtual event will feature key Canadian music creators across multiple genres including Alysha BrillaBarbra LicaHelen AustinKayla Diamond, and Liz Rodrigues

Hosted by JUNO Award winner Shari Ulrich, the Celebration Series Songbird North Women of S.A.C. unites women in music and invites the inspiring songwriters to share the inspiration behind their songs and the stories for an incredible night of performances, storytelling and music. 

S.A.C. developed the concert series program in 1993, originally named Bluebird North (BBN), bringing together Canada’s most inspiring songwriters to perform original work at an industry event in front of an educated audience.  

We had the opportunity to speak with Executive Director Zoë Cunningham about the inspiration behind the livestream, the challenging aspects of hosting a virtual event and what’s next.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind the Songwriters Association of Canada’s ‘Women of S.A.C. Livestream? 

Zoe: S.A.C. developed the concert series program in 1993, originally named Bluebird North (BBN) after the famous Blue Bird café in Nashville, to bring together Canada’s most inspiring  songwriters to perform original work. The primary benefit to the performer is the opportunity to  showcase at an industry event and the secondary benefit provides the songwriter with access to forums where they may test original compositions in front of an educated audience. Currently there are two long-running SBN series in Toronto and Vancouver with dedicated producers/hosts who “own” their series and their “built in” audiences. The concerts are ticketed events and underwritten by S.A.C. funders and other sponsors.

Through expansion of the Songbird North series, the current Songwriters Circle “In the Round” concert format, made famous by Blue Bird, can be purposefully more inclusive and thereby representative of a more diverse membership and music creator community. Each new SBN may be presented in association with a cultural or community celebration commemorating, for example, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Black History Month, International Women’s Day,  Asian and South Asian Heritage Month and PRIDE Week. 

Kat: What do you hope fans/attendees take from the event? 

Zoe: We hope to effectively engage music creators from diverse music communities to promote S.A.C. Celebration Series Songbird North concerts. 

Kat: What do you find is the most challenging part of planning a virtual event during  COVID? 

Zoe: We’re being told that our intended audience simply won’t pay for tickets for stream events. I don’t think that is true. Ticket masters are selling tickets. I just don’t want to give up and give everything (tickets) away for free simply because our important and significant musical events are on a smaller and more intimate scale. Live performance is vital to having new music experienced, an offer from one to many, not to mention an actual vital piece of the music ecosystem that music creators rely on to make a reasonable living. The work produced by a music creator, has as much value and a price as anybody’s. 

Kat: How did you go about choosing the performers for the event?  

Zoe: The Songwriters Association of Canada has very specific programming goals that require programming, performances, presenters and producers to be 100% diverse. In terms of equity seeking and sovereignty affirmation, S.A.C. requires to expand programming at every opportunity to achieve this. Performers were chosen for this concert that would allow the Celebration Series to surpass gender parity. 

Kat: What’s next for Songwriters Association of Canada?  

Zoe: As they say, in the song Andrea True Connection made famous (written by Gregg Diamond) – “More, More, More.” 

S.A.C. has created a very long list of equity seeking and sovereignty affirmation groups with a platform in music community we hope to partner with on future Celebration Series Songbird North concert production for years to come.

The virtual concert will be from 7-9pm EDT and general admission tickets are $20. Tickets are free for all members of S.A.C., SOCAN, and any Canadian Music Industry Associations. Tickets are available to be purchased here.

Like this post? Leave your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.