Canadian Musician


Matt Epp & Faouzia Ouihya Named First Ever Canadian Winners of the International Songwriting Competition

May 17th, 2017
Matt Epp & Faouzia Ouihya

Matt Epp & Faouzia Ouihya

The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is has announced its 2016 winners and for the first time in the history of the competition, the Grand Prize is awarded to Canadian songwriters. Now in its 16th year, the ISC is the world’s largest international songwriting competition, receiving more than 16,000 entries from 137 countries throughout the world. More than $150,000 in cash and merchandise is awarded to 71 winners in 23 categories covering all genres of music.

This year, the ISC has given its highest honor to Winnipeg troubador Matt Epp and Morocco-born Manitoba-raised 16-year old phenom Faouzia for their co-written song “The Sound Ft. Faouzia.” The Grand Prize winners take home $25,000 in cash (USD) and over $45,000 in additional prizes.

The winning song is a duet and is the perfect synergy between the seasoned songwriter Epp and the up-and-coming young artist Faouzia. It showcases the talents of each songwriter and singer, interweaving the yin and yang of Epp’s stark, tender vocals with Faouzia’s soaring delivery, says the competition’s judges.

As the story goes, the collaboration came about while Epp was on tour in Germany and received an email from his infant daughter, who he had been writing to since she was a newborn. The unexpected email from her read “What sound does a longing heart make?” In a hotel bathroom, he tearfully wrote the chorus of this song.

Fast forward a few months to when Epp was assigned to mentor a group of talented young performers; among the participants in the program was Faouzia. Perhaps unlikely kindred spirits, Epp and Faouzia formed a quick friendship, and they finished the song together. The song went to number one on the CBC Radio 2 chart, and it recently earned the SOCAN No.1 Song Award in Canada based on its radio success.

Candace Avery, the founder and director of ISC, states, “Lyrically the song’s central theme of longing is universal, so everyone can relate to it. Combined with its haunting and memorable melody, the song hits you to the core with its vulnerability. This is the first time the Grand Prize has ever been given to Canadian songwriters, and we are very excited to be awarding our highest honor to these very talented artists.”

When Epp heard that they had won the Grand Prize, he said, “I’ve always felt that we songwriters receive songs, more than write them. I’m so grateful for this one to have chosen me and my very talented collaborator Faouzia, and especially to the ISC for this prestigious Grand Prize award!”

The 2016 competition boasts the most songs written by Canadians (47) in any year since its inception in 2002. A total of nine Canadian winning songs share in the prestige of winning Grand Prize, First, Second, and Third Place in their respective categories. An additional 38 Canadian songs receive an Honorable Mention. The combined winners represent seven provinces in Canada, including: Alberta; British Columbia; Quebec; Ontario; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; and Newfoundland and Labrador. (See below for the list of Canadian winners).

For a complete list of all ISC 2016 winners go to:


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