Manitoba

'I think it has sunk in': Manitobans first Canadians to take home international songwriting competition

A seasoned Manitoba troubadour and Morocco-born Manitoba teenager have become the first Canadians to win the International Songwriting Competition.

Matt Epp and Faouzia Ouihya’s duet 'The Sound' won the grand prize

Matt Epp and Faouzia won a grand prize for a duet at the International Songwriting Competition. (Manitoba Music)

A seasoned Manitoba troubadour and Morocco-born Manitoba teenager have become the first Canadians to win the International Songwriting Competition.

Matt Epp and Faouzia Ouihya's duet The Sound picked up the top honours of the songwriting competition which comes with a $25,000 (USD) grand prize, recording time, guitars, amps and other prizes.

"I'm a dad of a young little girl and have all those kinds of things going on for me every good news becomes practical very quickly," Epp said.

"So I'm like how does this translate into my real life and it translates pretty immediately. I think it has sunk in."

It's a fitting response since the song itself was inspired by his daughter while Epp was on tour in Germany. He received an email from his daughter, who was an infant at the time, through his wife and it said, "Hi daddy. What's the sound a longing heart makes? I miss you."

"It killed me," Epp said. "So the music for the chorus, the chorus came right away in that German hotel bathroom."

The song sat for a few months as just a chorus until Epp started working with Ouihya. The 16-year-old singer, who lives in Carman, Man., had the perfect instincts for the song, Epp said.

"She sat down and hit the chord and started singing the first verse as if it had been there right away and so it was a pretty magical continuation of that process," he said.

Ouihya said the human-longing element of the song really connected with her, as well as with the judges of the competition.

"It's almost unbelievable to think that we were the first Canadians especially since there were 16,000 entries from 137 different countries it just makes it a lot harder to believe," she said.

"But at the same time the song is something that is special."

with files from CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show