What started as a surprise birthday visit and a simple guitar riff has clinched a mother and her two sons a spot in this year's semi-finals of the Canadian Songwriting Competition.

Connie Doerksen said the song was born out of a melody her youngest son Elijah began fooling around with and she playfully made words up to go along with it. Her older son Joshua, who works as a music producer and composer in Ontario, was compelled to bring it to life.

"So, as my brother Elijah was playing this guitar riff, mom started to sing some words — 'Where are you going?' — and I really immediately loved the melody that she was singing," he said.

"I was encouraging her to continue signing and I happened to have a recording device there, so I started recording what she was singing and what Elijah was playing and the song just sort of started to develop from there."

Joshua Doerksen said the song, Come Home, felt like a good thing immediately because he and his family were having so much fun creating it together. He said the family affair, as well as the nature of the song, made it special.

"I went out to visit them and I hadn't seen them in a little while so I was missing them," he said.

"And in a lot of ways it was an unexpected surprise from the trip that we collaborated as a family to create this song, and it was very serendipitous because the song was about coming home and that was exactly what I was doing."

Connie Doerksen said the fact that the three of them created the song together "is very special in my heart."

The national stage

Joshua Doerksen credits his mother for getting the piece in this year's Canadian Songwriting Competition.

"She was encouraging me intensely," he said.

Connie Doerksen said she paid the $30 application fee because she knew it was going to be a hit. She said it's an honour just to have made it to the semi-finals.

"It's a theme song for people to come home … and other people have told me that, and that it doesn't leave your head, it just keeps going on in your head over and over."

Joshua Doerksen said he believes it's the collaboration between his family that has given them such success so far.

Joshua Doerksen

Joshua Doerksen, Connie's oldest son, is a music producer and composer in Ontario. (CBC)

He said people have told him the song is calming and soothing, and he believes that is derived from the simple guitar lick it started with and the finishing touches that brought it all together in the end.

'The way that it needed to be produced'

"Partially I think it's the nature of the lick that my little brother wrote. It's a very calm and relaxing guitar riff," he said.

"But also I think having the harp in the background really adds this sort of serenity that kind of just underlays the whole track."

While Joshua is the music producer, Connie Doerksen was determined to get her ideas into the final product as well. This included having both of their voices harmonizing rather than just having Joshua sing.

Joshua Doerksen said his mother's intuition was right and the harmonies made it even more special.

"I think sometimes when you're in producer mode, you're really concerned about the quality and the editing of the content you're creating. But mom ultimately was right in the sense that there was an intimacy and there was this really nice folk quality to having her vocal in it as well," he said.

"Having my brother play the guitar in the recording and then having me and my mother both singing in the recording was the way that it needed to be produced."

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.