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Craig Cardiff releases songs written by Ottawa youth during his songwriting workshops

Craig Cardiff knows how hard it can be for young students to tell their stories or express their feelings — let alone now, during a year like this one.

It’s one of the reasons the Juno and CFMA-nominated artist continues to hold his highly sought-after songwriting workshops, pivoting online to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.

He even set up a newly-minted record label — Quarantine Collaborations / Workshop Label.  And he’s just released 18 songs to the streaming services, mostly from Ottawa students.

“The students deserve all the credit,” Craig said, noting the adjustment to remote coursework. “Thanks to the support of the OCDSB Innovation and Adolescent Learning team, these workshops — which first began earlier this year — have transitioned and continued into a virtual format. The students really rose to the occasion; they problem-solved, recorded with what was available, encouraged one another all online, on the Google Docs, and during the Google Meets.”

With his current crop of workshops hosting hundreds of students in grades 7 through 12 throughout the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Craig has now been teaching school groups for more than a decade, providing similar experiences for students across Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong in and around his usually busy tour schedule.

“I don’t care who you are — everyone has a song inside,” Craig said. He’d know; he’s released 16 albums over his 20-plus year career.

“Each one of us has a song that got us through a hard time.”

It’s an especially poignant sentiment given many of the students in the classes came to Canada as refugees and have very unique life experiences.

“Craig encouraged students to think and write about how they felt moving to a new country,” Woodroffe teacher Anne-Marie Reid said. “The students were brave and eager to share their stories; they jumped right in, writing lyrics that meant something to them.”

 

“During the pandemic, it has been difficult to keep students motivated,” AY Jackson teacher Allison Bruneau said. “Craig’s virtual songwriting workshops have really helped to inspire them during this difficult time.

Student recordings under Quarantine Collaborations / Workshop Label are available now.

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