Camp Sampy

Gordie Sampson is the first to admit that he lives the ideal life for his temperament. He spends the lion’s share of the year collaborating with some of the world’s best musicians and songwriters in Nashville and beyond. And the balance is spent back home enjoying summer in the Maritimes and recharging his batteries with a relatively relaxed schedule.

But Sampson has paid his dues and earned his musical chops, from his time with the pop band Realworld in the early 1990s to his role as a touring musician to his work as a musical director for stage and television productions to his incarnation as a solo musician.

And that was all before he won a Grammy Award in 2007 for best country song of the year for Carrie Underwood’s smash hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” which Sampson wrote with Brett James and Hillary Lindsey. Not to mention all of Sampson’s other hit songs.

He’s also been given a leg up, and he acknowledges that.

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Gordie Sampson sets up camp

Some of the region’s best songwriters have set up shop in Ingonish for the week, crafting songs together and learning a few tricks of the trade from each another along the way.

The annual Gordie Sampson Songcamp got underway Sunday at the Keltic Lodge and runs until Thursday when it will conclude with a public concert featuring the camp instructors and participants performing some of their new material.

Led by Big Pond native Gordie Sampson, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter who lives in Nashville, Tenn., the camp is also facilitated by respected Cape Breton songwriters Carleton Stone, Steven MacDougall and Stuart Cameron.

“We try to stay away from preaching about any how-tos because songwriting is a lot like painting pictures, as I’ve said numerous times, and it’s hard to teach somebody how to paint. You have to have a knack for it,” said Sampson. “But there are things along the way you can share with people, that can help.”

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A summer homecoming for Gordie Sampson

Even in the middle of one of his busiest years, Gordie Sampson can always make time for Cape Breton.

The fringe benefit for fans of the Nashville-based songwriter is that his annual pilgrimage home to host his summer song camp in Ingonish also means he’ll set aside a few days for shows around the Maritimes in July, when he can share some of his latest compositions and stories of his recent Tennessee adventures.

And with his name on tunes for Dierks Bentley — his current single Bourbon in Kentucky — Hunter Hayes, finalists from American Idol and The Voice and the new Keith Urban album Fuse, possibly dropping on Sept. 10, the past several months decidedly go into the plus column.

“This year has been really good, really exciting,” says Sampson, chilling with an iced tea in the backroom at the Carleton, where he performs on July 16.

“With what I do, the peaks and valleys are just incredible. You can go for a year, maybe two, with very little activity and then it will just kind of come, boom, boom, boom, and you’ll be like, ‘Whoa, WHOA, WOW!’

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