Storytelling has always been an integral part of Yukon history and tradition, in all its forms and mediums. That’s why this year, the non-profit Yukon Women in Music (YWIM) chose to make it the theme of their fourth and latest compilation album, “Song Rise”, which was just released in November.

Under the common thread, Yukon women telling Yukon stories through song, YWIM compiled and manufactured an album of fourteen different songwriters that features both emerging and established musicians.

“The goal is for the album to reflect diversity in musical styles, as well as diversity among the women themselves,” says Nicole Edwards, who co-managed the project along with fellow musician Kate Weekes.

Supported by the territorial Department of Tourism and Culture through the Arts Fund, the project was set up as something of a contest; Yukon women songwriters were asked to submit one publication-ready song by May 1st, 2012.

Adjudicators were recruited by Music Yukon to evaluate the submitted songs, and to choose fourteen of them based only on the strength of the song, as no artist names were submitted.

In order to reduce the barriers of participation for young or emerging artists, YWIM organized proposal-writing workshops and encouraged less experienced musicians to join their mentorship program, which provides support to women in the music industry.

Emerging artists received information about royalties, digital sales and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), as well as the opportunity to participate in the workshops held in October 2011, which allowed them time for mentoring and recording sessions before the May deadline.

“This project is an opportunity to develop and challenge women songwriters and to build community and support,” says Edwards, adding that established professional musicians were also encouraged to apply.

“Having a song on a compilation album helps these artists to reach a wider audience,” she says. “It also gives credibility to the project and support to the emerging artists… The whole project provides such a variety of professional development opportunities. YWIM is all about collaborating instead of competing. “

In the end, both Edwards’s and Weekes’s submissions were selected for the album, along with tracks from BJ MacLean, Brigs, Blue Hibou, Brenda Berezan, Claire Ness, Fawn Fritzen, Keitha Clark, Karen Furlong, Kim Rogers, L.Grace, Rose Kirchner, Sara MacDonald and Sylvie Painchaud.

“Being involved in Yukon Women in Music has encouraged me to write more, perform more and connect with other like-minded female musicians,” says Lauren Tuck, who is featured on the album as ‘L.Grace’. “I was elated that my song was chosen for the CD and that I was asked to perform at the Yukon Arts Centre. I am still beaming, what a fabulous opportunity.”

As project managers, both Weekes and Edwards worked with volunteer committees to coordinate the graphic design, mastering and manufacturing of the CD. The final mastering was done by Bob Hamilton of Old Crow Recording, though the individual songs were recorded in eleven different studios by various producers, including Barbara Chamberlin, Jim Holland, Jordy Walker, Daniel Janke, Tim Jeffrey, Don Bishop, Roly Mitton and Phil MacDonald.

As Edwards sees it, the process and production of “Song Rise”went smoothly and successfully, with the result turning out even better than the first three albums. “YWIM is very proud of our latest CD,” she says, “The variety of styles and diversity of women is always impressive. Audience members will be pleasantly surprised at the number of new voices. This album features more rockin’ songs than previous albums.”

Complete with its own cover artwork by Emma Barr, “Song Rise” is available for sale at Mac’s Fireweed books, Unitech, Dean’s Strings, Triple J’s Music and Well-Read Books.