Paul Kelly, James Reyne and Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst have all signed on to impart their wisdom to wannabe songwriters.

Icon Mentors is the brainchild of Rick Grossman, bass player for Aussie bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Divinyls, and vocal coach Stephen Baker, and the pair have gathered a crew of Australian musical greats to talk to aspiring songwriters.

Grossman and Baker, who have been teaching at third level institution JMC for about 12 years, were inspired to start up Icon Mentors after they started to bring in songwriters to do workshops with the students.

“We just saw how well the students responded. We realised this sort of thing wasn’t being done anywhere,” Grossman told AAP.

However, how does one teach the creative genius of someone like Paul Kelly? Isn’t songwriting often an inherent and personal experience?

“We’re not teaching anybody to write songs. That’s why this is quite different it’s more of an insight into other people’s experience. Each songwriter we have has a similar theme in the way they write songs but all their experiences are really different,” Grossman said.

“We’re not trying to teach somebody to write a song. We’re trying to inspire them basically,” he said.


There will be some revelations and insights into the songwriting process.

“Part of the brief we sent out to our icons is that we want them to deconstruct their songs, we want them to talk about why they chose the riffs that they chose,” Baker said.

The course will run for six weeks, consisting of two three-hour talks a week with a total of 40 students being accepted.

There is a catch, it will cost $1995 to be a part of it and applicants will need to send in an MP3 recording to be accepted on to the course.

Mentors will include Paul Kelly, James Reyne, Diesel, Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), Mark Seymour (Hunters and Collectors), Pete Murray, Suzy De Marchiand Dave Leslie (Baby Animals) and Ian Moss.

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