2015 All-Albertan Song Contest

The 2015 ATB Financial All-Albertan Song Contest was our closest one ever.

The overall quality of entries was at an all-time high and fan voting was extremely tight. That left our panel of judges with a very difficult decision. Which of the top six finalists put together the best song about Alberta?

In the end, Motherland by Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska was picked as the champ. The talented artists from Edmonton will share the top prize of $10,000 from ATB. Motherland’s haunting lyrics and beautiful arrangement pushed it over the top. It’s the first time an artist from somewhere other than Calgary has claimed the All-Albertan Song Contest.

Scenic Route to Alaska and Colleen Brown

Brown, also a finalist in the first All-Albertan Song Contest in 2010, was shocked when she heard the news while cat-sitting for a friend in Toronto.

"I was listening to CKUA on my phone and I did not think we would win. I was really floored," says Brown, who just wrapped up a Canada-wide tour. "The six finalists' songs were all amazing."

Brown, originally from Lloydminster, came up with the idea for the song while on tour in Europe this past spring. She had just learned that Rachel Notley's NDP had just swept to power in the provincial election.

"I was in a cafe in Linz, Austria, when I heard the news," says Brown. "I was shocked and surprised and so excited when I found that out. My heart was bursting. I was surrounded by a bunch of Austrian bachelors who had no idea what was going on in Alberta and probably didn't care. I started crying and was just really moved. I felt like something had shifted, maybe not just in Alberta. I went back to my room and immediately wrote the song."

The song was recorded with Scenic Route to Alaska, a popular Edmonton-based trio. Brown met the group at a show in the U.K. and soon after they decided to collaborate. 

"We were inspired by each other musically and felt like it was a really good match," says Brown. "We recorded that song and were really inspired to do more songs together."

Motherland will be featured on a yet-to-be named upcoming album. The song itself touches on a familiar theme: feeling homesick for Alberta while on the road.

"I had a really strong yearning to be back in Alberta and celebrating with people," adds Brown. "I can't say I thought about the lyrics a lot, they just poured out of me in that moment. It came from a feeling of pride for my home province and of oneness."

Brock Tyler’s You Can Dance In Alberta! earned second place honours and $3,000 from ATB. Tyler earned the most number of combined votes, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and CD Baby downloads. It’s the second year in a row Tyler has placed in the All-Albertan Song Contest. In 2014, Tyler finished third with Louise Caroline Alberta.

And in third place, Drew Hubka earned $2,000 from ATB with Dusty Roads and Oversize Loads, completing an Edmonton sweep of the top three spots.

ATB is also adding a new twist to the contest. Since the songs were so closely matched and since all six artists did such a great job promoting their songs on social media (resulting in a 35 per cent jump in voting totals), we’ve decided to give the remaining finalists (Carrie Day, Joe Nolan and Heather Blush & the Uppercuts) $500 each as honourable mentions.

Thanks to everyone who entered, listened and voted in this year’s contest. And stay tuned for a special concert announcement involving our winners.

2015 All-Albertan Song Contest Rules

2015 All-Albertan Song Contest Rules

1. Entrants must be Albertan and living in Alberta at the time of entry.

2. Entrants will record and submit an original, new, non-released song about Alberta. The song must be written and performed by the entrant.

3. Entrants will submit the song in a commonly used electronic audio format (i.e.: MP3), or on a CD.

4. Entrants will submit a legible lyrics sheet.

5. Entrants will submit a photo of themselves.

6. Entrants will submit contact information in a separate document, including song title, home phone number and e-mail address; that information won’t be disclosed to parties outside the contest.

7. Audio files of each song entered will up uploaded to the wearealberta Sound Cloud account for the duration of the contest.

8. Entrants can not be employees, or family members of employees, or board representatives, or family members of board representatives, of ATB Financial, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, CKUA Radio, or Alberta Music.

9. The winning entrant:

     a. Receives $10,000 from ATB Financial
     b. Is free to negotiate for and decide on any further uses of the song, and retains its copyright
     c. Agrees to be photographed and interviewed for a story on the ATB Financial community website wearealberta.ca
     d. Agrees to perform a live concert for ATB Financial for an additional talent fee at to-be-determined date and location (within Alberta)

10. The second-place entrant receives $3,000 in cash from ATB Financial.

11. The third-place entrant receives $2,000 in cash from ATB Financial.

12. *Entries will be accepted through the entry form found on this page or through conventional mail to:

Barry Strader
ATB Place
21st FL 10020 - 100 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5J 0N3

13. Entrants’ materials will not be returned. Due to logistical considerations, the contest administrator will not be able to guarantee acknowledgment that an entry has been received.

14. Deadline for entries is 12:00 pm, September 4, 2015.

15. From the pool of entries, a short-list of three to six entries will be chosen from a panel of judges from Alberta Music, CKUA and ATB Financial.

16. The short-listed entries – both song and lyrics – will be posted on ATB Financial’s community website wearealberta.ca. The short-listed entries will also be made available for download on the website CD Baby. Proceeds from each download will be donated to the charity of ATB’s choice. Entrants agree to this, without qualification.

17. Albertans will be invited to vote on ATB Financial’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram for their favourite entry from the short-list. Each “like” on Facebook and Instagram and each “favourite” on Twitter count as one vote. Each song download on CD Baby counts as 10 votes.

18. The winning entries – first place, second place and third place – will be chosen from a combination of public voting and a final round of judging.

19. The first-place winner will be revealed live on CKUA radio on October 2, 2015.

20. ATB Financial and CKUA assume that all entrants – by their submission of songs for this contest – agree to these rules.

*Entry submission details to be updated – check back for further details.

February 25th, 2016


Doug R. It seems like too many variables in the voting/judging process. It would be more fair and accurate in determining the best song about "Alberta" if every listener was able to cast one vote through one source.

2 years ago

Bill Hi Barry, Once again a winner who has a very nice song but does not mention Alberta or anywhere in Alberta in it. When I hear Europeans speak of their Motherland, they are talking about the country they come from, not their province, state, town or city but, their country. I think world wide your Motherland is thought of as ones country of origin. I agree that Colleen's song is beautiful (very polished and Radio-ready) but is not about Alberta, not even subtly so, as I hear it. To myself and others that enter the contest in the future it seems we can submit a song about anywhere as long as we don't mention Alberta or name drop places it will be presumed that our entry is about Alberta. Very odd. How did the judges know that Colleen's song was about Alberta or had anything to do with Alberta? If they did not know she was from Edmonton they would have to be incredibly perceptive. Maybe I don't clearly understand the contest. The contest is called All Albertan song contest. Does that mean anyone in ALberta can write any song whether it be about Alberta or not or does it mean the song entry should be about Alberta or have an Alberta theme? I also agree strongly with Paul concerning the voting. You can have no votes and still win because the judges, as was clearly mentioned, do the judging which is how it should be. Nice touch, by the way, in giving the 3 finalists $500.00. Once again, I thank ATB for sponsoring this contest.

2 years ago

Lissa Albertans were invited to vote and buy these songs. Could you please post the individual artist voting results for FB, Twitter , Instagram and CD baby?

2 years ago

Nathan I have to agree with their points. The fact this contest is about writing a song about Alberta, and they fail to even mention Alberta. I also have heard this song wasn't even submitted within the deadlines that were clearly stated in the rules. I would expect more from a contest put on by a bank.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Lissa, Here is how the online voting broke down as of noon on September 30, 2015 (the voting deadline): 1. Brock Tyler – 2,185 (438 Facebook, 102 Twitter, 265 Instagram, 138 CD downloads x 10) 2. Joe Nolan – 1,875 (568 Facebook, 102 Twitter, 185 Instagram, 102 CD downloads x 10) 3. Carrie Day – 1,679 (589 Facebook, 60 Twitter, 100 Instagram, 93 CD downloads x 10) 4. Drew Hubka – 1,208 (397 Facebook, 13 Twitter, 58 Instagram, 74 CD downloads x 10) 5. Heather Blush – 576 (249 Facebook, 12 Twitter, 15 Instagram, 30 CD downloads x 10) 6. Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska – 436 (157 Facebook, 5 Twitter, 14 Instagram, 26 CD downloads x 10) Colleen Brown and Scenic Route to Alaska's song was the only song all judges had ranked in their top three songs and was the only song they could agree on as the overall winner. Brock Tyler was awarded second place based on winning the fan voting. The judges felt Drew Hubka's song was the strongest of the remaining songs and awarded it third place.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Nathan, The winning song was submitted on August 31, well ahead of the entry deadline. We were late adding it to our Soundcloud account and that was our mistake. I can assure you we take the rules of the contest very seriously.

2 years ago

Rolf As it states on the Facebook voting page "...the judges will make the final decision on our winners but will ABSOLUTELY be influenced by the voting totals." The word "absolutely" is a very strong word. Looking at the outcome of the "contest", the final decision was absolutely NOT influenced. How come the song with the least number of votes on all voting sites placed first? the contest rule #18 says: The winning entries – first place, second place and third place – will be chosen from a combination of public voting and a final round of judging. I wonder, if the winner got chosen by a "combination" of nepotism and biased judges. Great work ATB. You are taking involvement in the community far too literally!

2 years ago

bstrader Rolf, I'm happy to provide all the facts about the contest that folks want, but that's unfair. Our judges are well-intentioned volunteers whose only interest is supporting all Alberta artists. They have no family or business ties to any of the entrants.

2 years ago

francisco What's your sense of fair play? The winning song was ranked the last one in the voting proccess. Wouldn't have been fairer to close the voting stage of the contest after selecting the finalists, since the judges were unanimously agreed to vote the same song, no matter what could happen with the number of votes which each received and who were the nominee who had obtained the highest number of votes in the end. Otherwise, it meant an extra effort under stress for all the finalists regarding to keep promoting their songs and prolonging the uncertainty about the results for a few weeks. It means to play with people's feelings and illusions. I can only think either you wanted to promote the contest itself for a longer time with the help of the self-promotion of each nominee, or you expected the voting process confirmed your favourite song as the winner, though it was not the voters' decision. It seems to me a fraud. You may look upon other very known contests having clear rules from the beginning. Let me mention 2 examples:(1) Independent Music Awards (IMAs). They have two winners for each music category: one from a judging process (btw, we know the name of the members of the jury) and another one as a result of the people's voice ("Vox Populi Winner"). Matches can occur between nominees and even winners of both awards, but anyway discrepancies would be totally justified and completely above suspicion. (2) Eurovision Song Contest, the longest running annual TV song competition, in which each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition (the contest has been broadcast every year for 60 years, since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. it's also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally). Well, the voting system has changed over the years. The current method for ranking entries is a 50/50 combination of both telephone vote (viewers may also vote by SMS) over 15 minutes and the votes of five jurymember made up of music professionals in each country.

2 years ago

Bill I am just waiting for a response to my comments. Thanks Barry.

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Bill, We do understand your point about the winner and our judges disagree. One of our judges has addressed your concern in a previous post. Not much more I can add.

2 years ago

Sam I agree with all of the above comments. The results are confusing and a letdown, and even more so now that the voting totals are published. Something isn't adding up here... How come voting "absolutely" factored in for the second place winner, but was ignored for the first place winner? There are rumblings about favouritism and conflict of interest, and there is definitely a wishy-washy-ness in the way the rules have been addressed by ATB. Why make the contest open to the public if in the end public participation (and opinion) is ignored? If the public liked the song "Motherland", they would have voted for it. Clearly the numbers show that the winning song was not a winner. How come the judges have overlooked that?

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Sam. Public participation wasn't ignored. The first-place vote getter was elevated to second prize in the contest. I'm happy to provide facts about the contest, but to accuse our judges of favouritism and conflict-of-interest is unfair. They simply liked the winning song the most of the six finalists.

2 years ago

Pete The question remains: how was the voting incorporated in determining first place? It doesn't appear to have been a consideration at all. These songs were not assessed on an even playing field. Given the amount of the prize money, this is not fair.

2 years ago

Shawn Hi! I'm Shawn Ohler, one of the judges. I’m a former ATBer, one-time Journal arts editor/music writer, Royal Conservatory slogger, music nerd. When the judges met to pick the first-place winner, we had a choice. Do we choose the song we judges believed to be the best song of the competition (Colleen's)? Or do we choose the song that received the most votes (Brock's)? We debated it. Should we elevate Brock's song from somewhere between places 3 and 6, in the judges' estimation, to first place? Or choose the song the judges unanimously thought deserved to win? We chose Colleen's. And to honour and reward the effort and thoughtfulness of Brock and his fans, we elevated his song to second place. The rules — "The winning entries (first place, second place and third place) will be chosen from a combination of public voting and a final round of judging" — have been the same for five years. We followed them. Judges' opinions influenced places 1-3. Public voting influenced places 1-3. And because public voting was so strong, ATB moved to reward songs 4-6, for the first time ever, with an extra $500 each in prize money. A fair comment would be: "You judges are morons! You picked the wrong song!" Or: "ATB should redesign its contest so the song that wins the fan voting wins the contest no matter what the judges think." Also fair. But the comments on this thread that ATB's somehow guilty of nepotism, conflict-of-interest, bias, favouritism? Geez. I haven’t spoken for ATB in years, but I think that kind of criticism is unfair, and it cheapens ATB's intentions and their consistent support of Alberta music.

2 years ago

francisco I think you're missing the message of the people. The problem is not the decision of the judges, who are quite free to choose their favorite song, despite it can be widely different from public's vote. The issue is the fragility of the competition rules which allow this discrepancy without having been convincingly explained by the organization in line with the own rules of the contest. Imho all subsequent justifications you are giving serve only to strengthen suspicions about the final outcome and do a disservice to the prestige and credibility of the contest in upcoming years. Albertan artists who want to submit their songs next year may have doubts about the system guarantees for reaching the first place and winning the prize according to current rules. As a host of a radio show in Spain over the last 14 years, I am a member of a panel of broadcasters for a website which gives more than a dozen awards in several music categories to artists from around the world since 2004 and whose award ceremony has place every year in an event-concert in New Orleans (host city of the web's founders). Over a hundred radio stations vote a presetting of candidates (which have met the necessary conditions in order to qualify in a shortlist because of the ranking in the monthly charts of the year before) to make a first round list with 5 nominees in each category and later in a second round to decide the winner of each one. And sometimes I surprise myself with the results, but I cannot doubt the veracity and legitimacy of them, because they arise from the feedback that my colleagues and I have delivered during the voting process. The contest includes a guarantee mechanism in the form of established rules perfectly known in advance. Listeners have no voice in the contest. Therefore, at the end we can more or less agree with the results. But we cannot doubt its legitimacy because we all know where they come from. In your competition, at least this year (which is the one I know) the result does not follow the logic of the rules that you have previously set because it ignores completely (for the winner) the weighting factor which should have been applied in relation to the number of votes given by followers and fans. One of two things. We can believe and accept that the final outcome of the contest was improvised, which does not exempt the organizers from responsability. Otherwise, it must be admitted that most voters may have lost a great deal of confidence and some finalists may feel a rising sense of, with a sensation of non-productive attrition.

2 years ago

francisco *Sorry, I was trying to say: "some finalists may feel a rising sense of frustration"

2 years ago

Ashley Slade Is there a 2016 contest on the horizon? Keeping tabs on this page is the best way of staying informed?

2 years ago

lcuthbertson Hi Ashley, we'll announce details on wearealberta.ca later this year!

2 years ago

Danah Hello, any information on The Albertan song contest for 2016?

2 years ago

bstrader Hi, Danah, Not yet, but stay tuned!

2 years ago

Sharon I'm guessing no contest this year?

1 year ago

bstrader Sorry for the late reply, Sharon. Just got back from holidays! We are still working on details. Stay tuned!

1 year ago