Spring 2024

Songwriting, Rolling Stone and Avril Lavigne

Greg Ceci

Songwriting, Rolling Stone and Avril Lavigne

Stephen Bruce Medd is a widely known and reputable local songwriter from Napanee who has been crafting songs and spinning stories for as long as we can remember. Originally an exploration geologist in some of the most remote and awe inspiring locations in Canada, he’s become a local historian who is most celebrated for his golden voice and repertoire of finely crafted historical ballads and spiritual folk songs. This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of his debut album The Quinte Spirit, in which Medd first flexed his songwriting muscles, mentored an aspiring Napanee singer, and was a catalyst in launching her career into the stratosphere of international superstardom.

Medd’s first two albums, The Quinte Spirit and My Window To You feature multiple singers but the three songs written for and performed by a then 15-year-old Avril Lavigne garnered the most attention. Medd’s poignant and timeless Touch The Sky from the first record was the tune that set the wheels in motion. In 1996, along with Avril’s father John Lavigne, as well as good friend Clifford Trott who’s daughter Stephanie was also a featured vocalist, the three musician friends set out to record an album. David Archibald and Duncan Holt rounded out the creative team for both projects, which Lavigne later used to shop around the industry and land a deal for her first CD.

Medd realized her talent and professionalism when they hit the studio to record Touch The Sky. She calmly strolled in and on the very first take, nailed a stunning and memorable performance that to this day sends chills up the songwriter’s spine. A random man filming their performances at the CD release in Kingston ended up serving as Lavigne’s first manager. She quickly outgrew Napanee and in 2002 recorded her first album Let Go as she spread her wings for flight. In the liner notes, she thanked Medd and his team for believing in her. People began showing up on his doorstep from England, Germany and the United States and he reflects on that exhilarating period of time shortly after Lavigne hit it big, “I had people all over the world contact me. Rolling Stone magazine interviewed me in my kitchen. Even my kids were on YTV because Avril babysat them. Exciting times for sure.”

Medd draws from many influences including Gordon Lightfoot, Pete Seeger, the Beatles, as well as traditional English and Irish folk. Now a seasoned and highly respected songwriter, recording artist and performer, those early times taught him plenty about his craft and the music production process. Medd explains the songwriting impetus from his first two albums, “I was strongly influenced by the praise, worship and gospel music that Avril’s parents were listening to at that time, but the forest and the outdoors are my church and much of my lyric writing is driven by a love and wonderment for nature.”

Medd is set to re-release The Quinte Spirit later this year, with an accompanying concert in the works as well. It’s true that Lavigne put Napanee on the map (she was honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2023) but it is Medd who remains and continues to draw divine guidance from the area’s rich history and scenery. The Quinte Spirit has truly stood the test of time, something all songwriters hope for. To be remembered and leave a legacy. Medd has done exactly that as he gazes in the rearview mirror with humility and fondness, “I’m quite proud to know the opportunities I gave Avril helped in her early development. We were all one link in a chain of several links that helped Avril along.”

Search for Stephen Bruce Medd music to view his catalogue, catch a live performance, purchase his music, as well as view those magical videos with Avril in which a star was born.

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