The TD Music Artist in Residence at MacEwan University program has had a successful first season. Each of the program’s 11 participants worked with industry professionals, alumni and current students in order to produce a song and music video for themselves.

The Department of Music received a TD Ready Commitment grant for the program that will fund it for two further summers. The program is intended to host aspiring musicians who might not otherwise be able to attend post-secondary music programs or intensive short-term programs.

“Other programs like this can cost thousands of dollars in tuition, and not everyone can afford that,” says Dr. William Richards, project director, TD Music Artist in Residence at MacEwan, and chair of the Department of Music.

Thanks to the funding through TD, everything was provided to participants completely free of charge, including a stay in MacEwan Residence and three meals per day.

“In the application process, we asked if there are any cultural, financial or other barriers to entry into a career in music,” says Brandon Baker, project manager of the TD Music Artist in Residence at MacEwan program . “Every participant, aside from one, was either accessing government support to live or was from a marginalized community. Each one of them really deserved to be a part of this program.”

The 11 chosen applicants were from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds, and came to Edmonton’s downtown core from all across the province.

“Inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility were always at the forefront of our minds,” says Baker. “Those were the guiding principles of how we chose the participants, how we interacted with them, how we supported them and how we decided which mentors to bring in. We wanted to ensure that this was a safe space.”

Tiffannie Bruney, a Calgary-based hip-hop artist who performs under the name Tea Fannie, was one of the participants in the program. Bruney has been creating and performing music since March 2019, and says that she was in disbelief when she heard she’d been accepted.

“I remember emailing Brandon and being like, ‘Is this real?’ I called about a week before the program started just to make sure again,” she says.

Bruney says that the program taught her a lot, and even changed the way she approaches writing her music. During one songwriting class, she was challenged to write a verse using only the words present on a single page of a book, which was vastly different from her usual songwriting methods, where she started with a beat and wrote the lyrics from there. She was also inspired by her fellow participants, including one who played contemporary punk music.

“Watching her performance, I realized you don’t always have to rhyme. Her song didn’t rhyme but it was so cohesive. When she sang about water, I could feel the water on my toes. So I don’t always rhyme anymore, because it’s more about what I feel in that moment,” says Bruney.

Though the participants made use of the resources available to them in Allard Hall, the content of the program was also sensitive to the fact that artists may not have access to professional equipment and studios. “It was very DIY,” says Bruney. “It was like, this is what you can do with these facilities, but if you don’t have access to that here’s how you can do it yourself.”

Current MacEwan students, alumni and industry professionals were brought in to mentor the participants, as well as to produce their final song and video. “Bringing our current students and recent alumni into those teaching roles strengthens their skills, and maybe even introduces them to the idea that they might be a future professor or producer,” says Dr. Richards.

Bruney adds that she was able to make connections with many of those industry professionals and alumni, and she now has a list of contacts prepared for when she is ready to take the next steps in her career. In the meantime, though, she’s already working on music alongside some of the other participants.

“I’m doing a collab with Fel from The Spanish Flies, who was also part of the program. I don’t know if I’d be able to get onto a Spanish-funk song without being a part of this. Where else would I meet someone like that?”

Though Bruney would recommend the program to other eligible musicians, she notes that those who are new to the industry might need to find their footing before applying. “If you need more direction, it might not be for you. We’d have classes in the morning, then we’d take the afternoon to work on what we learned that morning. So if you’re not ready to take on that aspect of it and apply what you’re learning, you might get a little lost in the sauce. But for me, the program helped immensely.”

To learn more about the program or to apply to participate, head to

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