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It can be tough to make a go of a career in the music industry. Getting the advice of an established musician can be invaluable.
Thanks to an initiative by Huntsville native J’aime Payne, musicians across the country recently had the opportunity to receive that support through an artist-to-artist mentorship program and young local musician Briar Summers was the initiative’s first recipient.
Payne began the Snow Lake Initiative in hope of providing mentorship and financial support to independent musicians across Canada. Its name was inspired by Payne’s childhood and the people that inspired her.
“Snow Lake was the name of my grandmother’s hunt camp on the edge of Algonquin Park where my dad and his friends would bring us girls as kids for father-daughter fishing trips,” said Payne. “It was such an amazing, wholesome environment. The spirit of Snow Lake has always been about encouragement and love which was why it was perfect.”
After moving to Toronto in 2013, creating two records and working for a not-for-profit microloan organization, the Canadian Independent Recording Artists Association, Payne wanted to use her years of experience and passion for helping other artists to start her very own initiative. She moved back to Muskoka to launch the Snow Lake Initiative in the fall of 2018.
“I originally left Huntsville because I felt like there wasn’t an art culture, so part of the spirit of the Snow Lake Initiative is that you don’t have to live in a big city to obtain opportunities. We want to be as inclusive, open and fair as possible. It’s all about cultivating community,” she said. “My goal was to create a grant system that removed obstacles instead of creating them.”
In March, the Snow Lake Initiative announced the first mentor in its artist-to-artist mentorship program—Montréal-based Canadian singer-songwriter Kandle.
In a media release, Kandle, who also performs with her father, Canadian rock icon Neil Osborne of 54•40, said, “Being a mentor sparked my interest because I wanted to emphasize the importance of having wise and trustworthy people around you, like the ones I’ve had in my corner through the chaotic journey of becoming an artist. These people have allowed me to be the artist and businesswoman I am today. The support and advice of someone that understands your goals and ambitions can go a long way, and because of that, I am honoured to be that person for my mentee.”
Potential mentees had to write a letter to Kandle about themselves and what they want to achieve with their career, in hope of receiving three months of one-to-one insight.
Local singer-songwriter and grade 11 student Briar Summers was selected from more than a dozen applicants.
They began by chatting via email to get to know each other and Summers sent Kandle her demo along with questions about recording, business and songwriting.
“Kandle listened to my demos, gave me feedback on the songs, and told me platforms to share my music on,” said Summers. “I liked how she worded everything and it never felt like she was a ‘teacher’. It felt like she was a friend who wanted to help me and believed in me.”
Summers wanted to see Kandle perform live and, after learning that she had a summer show in Montréal, Summers’ family planned a little vacation around it.
“Kandle and I went to brunch and she gave me some tips on the music industry. She even asked me to come to her concert that night and join her on stage to sing with her for a song,” said Summers.
“When I saw the pictures of Briar and Kandle on stage together I was so proud,” said Payne. “The point of the program is to generate connections like these.”
Summers is currently working on recording her first album at Rob Currie Recording in Gravenhurst while performing locally throughout the summer. On the album she is working with Miranda Mulholland (violin), Logan Coey (drums), and Rob Currie on guitar and bass.
“The Snow Lake Initiative has given me more connections, more knowledge on the music industry and I’ve learned so much overall,” said Summers. “They have continuously given me and my music career tons of support. The Initiative isn’t just about me, it’s about all artists and building connections and helping each other out.”
The artist-to-artist mentorship program is just one of several programs offered by the Snow Lake Initiative. Membership for artists is free and has grown significantly since its launch in the fall. Visit thesnowlakeinitiative.ca for a full list of programs and how to apply.
Snow Lake’s current sponsors are Soapstones and Brendish Computers, however they are looking to expand to have five or so additional sponsorships in the new year in various industries.
“David from Soapstones has been an amazing support just not financially but with giving me business advice and tips as well,” said Payne. “We want companies who can get behind our spirit of inclusivity and openness. Our focus right now is 2020 programming.”
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