Art-Song Writing Competition Now Open to All MacEwan Students!

With the success of last year’s song writing competition, we’ve decided to do it again! Bent River Records is happy to announce that we will be accepting submissions for the second edition of our art-song writing competition! The contest was conceived to honour the generous and ongoing support of one of the label’s major donors, Dr. Craig Monk, the Provost & Vice-President, Academic at MacEwan. This year’s competition is open to all MacEwan University students regardless of musical background. We want to hear from you!

We want to showcase your lyric writing abilities. If your lyrics are chosen, they will be written into an original composition created by students within the Department of Music and performed by a singer and a string quartet. Stay tuned for more on the composition competition soon.

Not only do you get to have your lyrics performed, composed, and recorded – there is also an honorarium prize of $750.00!

How cool is that!?

We encourage all contestants to submit their entries by October 30, 2021, and no later than 4:00PM MST. Please click the link below for submission details.

The call for entries is now closed.

Congratulations to Esther Forseth! Stay tuned for updates on her winning art-song lyrics, “Preacher’s Daughter.”

BRR Art-Song Writing Competition

Meet our new team of student interns!

Our fall 2021 team of student interns have been hard at work getting ready to make some big announcements — stay tuned for more on that soon. Here’s a little bit about the new team!

Alexa Cable
Alexa is a fourth year composition major with a special focus in recording and production. This passion for recording has led her to an internship with Bent River Records in her final year at MacEwan. She spent the summer recording several singles for her solo artist career as “Lexene” which will be released this fall and in early 2022. She also spent the summer working with the YouTube channel ‘Learn Audio Engineering,’ producing an interview series focused around “how the recording industry is changing.” Before coming to MacEwan, Alexa studied film at Langara College, and did voice-over work in several commercials. Alexa is excited to build her audience online through Behind-the-Scenes YouTube videos about her recording process. 

Carolina Odashima
Carolina is the new social media and promotions intern at Bent River Records. She has been collaborating with musicians for several years, creating posters, communications, and album covers. She is also a bookworm with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Education with a major in Arts, and is currently a second-year student at MacEwan’s Graphic Design Diploma program. A fun fact about her: Carolina has a very peculiar accent, and that is because she is Brazilian, and her first language is Brazilian Portuguese. You can find her work @chiodashima on Instagram.

Dylan Cave
Dylan is an interdisciplinary technician in the Canadian live entertainment Industry and a student in the department of Music at MacEwan University majoring in Sound recording and Production. He has worked all across Canada including working tours with companies such as Cirque Du Soleil, and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA TOUR). Dylan has worked as an audio engineer for many local and international artists such as: Rex Brown (Pantera), Vinnie Appice (DIO, Black Sabbath), RUSH, John Fogherty and The Wailers to name just a few. He likes working with passionate artists in high energy fast paced work environments that push boundaries and encourage growth in his own technical development. Currently Dylan is working as a producer and co-host for MacEwan University’s new knowledge mobilization podcast Research Recast(ed). In addition to his roles with the podcast Dylan is the Production coordinator for the TD Edmonton International Jazz Festival and he also works as a swing technician at the Starlite Room in YEG doing video, sound, and lighting.

Gladwyn Badger
Gladwyn is a 4th year Bachelor of Music student at MacEwan University.

“I am so excited to join the BRR team for this semester! I am looking to actively engage with artists and musicians of all types during my time here, as well as to further develop my skills for the professional world!”

Valentina Osorio
Valentina is currently a 4th year student in the East Asian Studies Department at the University of Alberta, and this is her second year doing concurrent studies in the Arts and Cultural Management program at MacEwan University. As a person that has always been greatly intrigued by the entertainment industry and wished to know more about the ins and outs of the music industry, she feels excited and extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Bent River Records team. She hopes to use the knowledge she gains from this invaluable experience towards future endeavours internationally, wherever her degree may take her.

Interview with Fine Art Competition Winner Gwynne McMaster

Gwynne McMaster was recently named the winner of the Bent River Records Fine Art Competition. Her artwork (to be revealed soon!) was selected as the cover image to accompany the winning songs from our Song Writing Competition, “Where Your Love Lives” by Cynthia Hamar, and “Whatever Comes” by Kael Sauerborn. The contests were conceived to honour Dr. Craig Monk, the Provost & Vice-President, Academic at MacEwan, and his generous and ongoing support of the record label. Gwynne wishes to express her thanks and appreciation to Craig Monk: “His support for fine arts has created many amazing opportunities for students and their work! Thank You!”

Gwynne is a multidisciplinary artist whose current practice involves motion, memories, and mundane moments. She is also heavily inspired by the Canadian environment that surrounds her. Using mediums of traditional animation, painting, illustration, and film, Gwynne aims to connect with her audience through visual storytelling. In 2017, Gwynne won the Fort Saskatchewan Art in Public Places Award (Youth Category) for her Painting, Old Barn. This year, Gwynne has had her art exhibited in MacEwan’s Digital Gray Gallery as well as MacEwan’s Fine Art Grad Show. Most recently, Gwynne has completed her Fine Arts diploma at MacEwan University and will be attending Vancouver Film School for their Classical Animation Program this following September.

Can you tell us about the artwork you submitted and how it was created?
My cover art is composed of still images from an animation project I have recently created also relating to themes of home. When considering home, I think of a barn that used to be on the side of the highway leading to my hometown, Fort Saskatchewan. For me, seeing this landmark always signified that I was on my way home. Within the past year, this barn has been torn down. While the barn is no longer there, it continues to be a ghostly figure in my mind that represents how home is not necessarily a physical place, but more of a feeling. I decided to represent this within my animation where I have white animated drawing of a barn falling apart and piecing back together behind a photographed background. When determining how to show this work as a single image for the cover, I decided to create a triptych using three still images from the animation itself to demonstrate the progression of change. I decided to use white space to separate each still image, which ended up working as a perfect space to include the text for the record cover!

How do you feel your piece relates to the winning songs from our Songwriting Competition?
I felt that my artwork especially connected to both of the winning songs and their lyrics, each reflecting how home can be a feeling rather than a place. Listening to Cynthia’s song, “Where Your Love Lives,” I really felt a sense of haunting memories that matched the nostalgic tone of my work. I also felt my work connected to Kael’s song “Whatever Comes,” in how the foundation of home strongly impacts someone as they continue to move forward in their life.

What does “home” mean to you?
To me, home is the foundation of love, whether that be from family, friends, or oneself. Home embraces welcoming feelings of comfort, warmth, and authenticity. Home provides me with memories and experiences that help me to continue grow into my own individual self while learning to appreciate the little things that surround me daily. 🙂


Did you miss our 2021 Artist Spotlight Series on CJSR 88.5? Fret not! You can now listen to the episodes on Soundcloud. Thank you to Mark Rodgers, host of Soul of the City, and to the Bent River Records interns who co-hosted the shows.

Listen Now:

Bent River Records ran our annual Spotlight Event again this year, albeit in a slightly different format! Normally the Spotlight event is an in-person event celebrating the new album releases of the artists on the Bent River Records label.

Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the 2021 Spotlight took place as a two-part radio event on CJSR 88.5FM.

Bent River Records interns are guest hosts on the two episodes (in 4 parts on this playlist).

Aired April 15th & 20th on CJSR 88.5
Soul of the City, hosted by Mark Rodgers
Guest hosts: Nick Adkisson, William Conway, and Jacob Toop

“Where Your Love Lives” Recording Session with Cynthia Hamar

We caught up with Bent River Records Songwriting Competition winner Cynthia Hamar at Macewan University Recording Studio, a conversation in which we discussed some of her personal story, inspirations and experiences with MacEwan and Bent River Records. Cynthia Hamar is a Métis singer-songwriter, guitarist, and pianist, whose work greatly impressed the jurors and won her the Bent River Records Song Writing Competition with her bluesy folk song, “Where Your Love Lives.” The contest was conceived to honour the generous and ongoing support of one of the label’s significant donors, Dr. Craig Monk, the Provost & Vice-President, Academic at MacEwan. “Having a leader like Craig Monk who shows so much interest and invests in supporting creative students and projects is deeply inspiring and has encouraged me immensely in my journey as a songwriter and student.”

Born in Drayton Valley, Alberta, Cynthia grew up in a musical family and has had a passion for music since an early age. Now Cynthia has recorded three studio albums and is looking forward to making more. “I’ve been writing and playing by ear, at home, in church. I even wrote little songs when I was a kid and stored them in my tape recorder,” Hamar says about the beginnings of her musical journey.  Hamar decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Music at Grant MacEwan and has been hoping to use this opportunity to explore her possibilities as an artist further. “It’s just fun to be around creative people, and all the opportunities are great!”

“I always say I’m folk, although there are lots of different vibes going on.” Cynthia’s inspirations are multifaceted, from folky singer-songwriters such as Brandi Carlile and Gregory Alan Isakov to more eccentric acts such as Tom Waits and Radiohead. Cynthia herself has difficulty describing her style as her ears are always open for new inspiration! 

 “Where Your Love Lives” is such an intimate and personal song, and Cynthia’s writing abilities are strong and on display. Cynthia finds so much value and love in the concept of home, and with her kids now being adults, this song is a chance for her to express her feelings of where love is and how it stays consistent as concepts of home and family change through time. “The songs that I make that are worth recording or performing are the ones that touch me and make me feel something.”