What started out as a lockdown-inspired songwriting competition founded by British folk artist Saskia Griffiths-Moore, became a movement to do two things: 1) Prove that talent knows no age limit and 2) That's there is no such thing as too late
So many people over 50 are gifted musicians and songwriters, whether they are amateurs or professionals, but it would break my heart a little when they would say things like 'It's too late for me' or 'I've missed the boat'. It's not true, but I understand why people feel that. As an acoustic musician my audience are often in the 50-or-over category, and I've spent many a touring night staying with fans, venue promoters and in the folk festivals marvelling at the amazing talents and stories we all have to share.
When the second lockdown was announced I wanted to connect and inspire my fans and I set up a little songwriting competition that we could all do safely online from home. I began asking my industry connections if they wanted to get involved and everywhere I went I got a resounding 'YES'! As it turns out, there are lots of people in the industry and around it who passionately feel that getting older doesn't make you less relevant, and that we ought to prove it with this competition.
Little did I know how much this message was going to resonate with all the songwriters over 50 out there, and what started out as a few hundred people became over a thousand within a month. Was it the prizes? Recording at Abbey Road Studios? A record deal? Playlisting in Caffe Nero? Maybe. Or maybe it was the collective idea that music belongs to all people at all ages, and connecting with other people who felt that way was enough of a motivation in itself.
Not wanting money to be a barrier I set this up as a free competition giving people the option to donate what they could after they'd submitted their song. I interviewed with our judges Ian Matthews (Kasabian), Tony Moore (Iron Maiden), Boo Hewerdine, Micky Blue, Elles Bailey to name but a few, and we put those Q&A sessions in our facebook group and online.
The group became so passionate that it soon became clear that the Talent Is Timeless movement was only just beginning with the songwriting competition. I've been inundated with messages of gratitude and joy at being invited into a safe creative space for songwriters at all levels who are 50 or over, and with ideas about how they want this to continue. It's a free online community and we run songwriting challenges every month and keep up with our interviews with industry professionals. We also run paid songwriting workshops for those who want them, and will look to creating concerts, workshops and more for people who are interested.
What's amazing to me is that this is really run by the members, they vote and give feedback on what they want from each other and from me as a facilitator, and for me (for once) I am not setting the direction, I am here to serve.
To get an invite to join our private facebook group all you have to do is head to: www.talentistimeless.com and join us.
My advice for songwriters over 50? As was put by Micky Blue in the live interview we did in our facebook group 'the question isn't about age, it's about energy'. My answer is if you have the energy and inspiration, then you have what it takes. Whether you want to be the next Seasick Steve or if you simply want to improve for your own sake, art is always a worthwhile endeavour, and I believe there is nothing as important as keeping your creative flame alive.
‘Caffe Nero is proud to support ‘Talent is Timeless’. Creativity and talent has no age boundaries and everyone should be encouraged to be creative at all stages of their lives. We will certainly play some of the winners songs on our nationwide café playlist!’ Pablo Ettinger, Founder & Head of Music, Caffe Nero
'In an age that prioritizes youthful development, it is a grave error of judgement to ignore the creative efforts of older and more mature artistes.' Phil Beer, Show Of Hands (UK Folk Band)
'I’m proud to support and be part of this initiative because I believe talent doesn’t just reside in young writers, but also continues into older age and often becomes enriched due to ongoing life experience. It’s time the older generation is given a spotlight to showcase their ideas and be given an opportunity to take steps in the music industry.' Ian Matthews, Kasabian
"I am very honoured to be involved with such an important and passionate project. Fostering inspiration to create is vital for our musical future." Tony Moore (Iron Maiden, Cutting Crew)