Sep-14-2013 ~ Local songwriters reach finals of Alberta-wide contest
By: Anna Borowiecki

In Hailey Benedict’s short life, she’s reached quite a few singing goals. This past Monday she added one more notch to her belt.

Her dream of being recognized as a songwriter is finally coming true.

Benedict, 11, received notification that her song, My Sweet Alberta Home, was a finalist in the 2013 All-Alberta Song Contest.

“It’s so crazy. I’m so excited. When I got the email I started screaming. I was speechless. I was so excited,” said the Grade 6 Keenooshayo elementary student.

Sponsored by ATB Financial, the song competition is part of We Are Alberta, an umbrella initiative designed to share stories of people across the length and breadth of the province.

There were 130 entries. Eight finalists were chosen, providing a wide spectrum of music from country to bluegrass to pop to hip-hop.

A second St. Albert songwriter, Joel Kleine, submitted his demo song QE2 with Paul Jensen on vocals and Dave Snaterse playing drums.

“I feel very privileged and somewhat blown away that we made it to the top eight. I like the song, and it’s nice when someone you don’t know validates your work. That really feels great,” says the somewhat more sedate Kleine.

QE2 is a romantic ballad of two lovers divided by time and distance, but in looking up at Alberta’s night sky, they see the same stars.

“It’s finding a way to be connected, even when you’re apart,” Kleine notes.

The song was inspired when he was on trip along the QE2 and was missing his wife.

Benedict’s song, accompanied by Julia Nicholson, is also one of romance. But it’s her love affair with Alberta’s sights and sounds – whispering winds, rustling leaves, dancing northern lights and rainbows glowing on golden prairie fields that take centre stage.

“Whenever I close my eyes, I think of the beauty of Alberta. And everything wraps me in this wonderful world. And there’s so much to write about in Alberta, it’s hard to fit it in one song,” comments Benedict.

The top prize is $10,000 with an additional $2,000 to professionally record a song. A one-year membership to the Alberta Songwriters’ Association is also included. Second prize is $3,000 and third prize is $2,000.

The finalists’ songs are available for listener voting at The deadline for voting is Monday, Sept. 23 at 12 p.m. The winner is revealed live on CKUA Radio’s Lunch Box on Friday, Sept. 27.

Finalists’ songs will also be available for download on CD Baby. Each download is 99 cents and is worth 10 votes. All proceeds are directed to the Red Cross Alberta Floods Fund.

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