The Stories behind the Songs 

Musical Storytelling Program Overview

• What ragtime composer had America's first million-selling song?
• Which legendary songwriter wrote the best-selling song of all-time?
• Who was America's first professional songwriter? Why are his universally known songs controversial?  

The Stories behind the Songs is designed to break isolation and bring enjoyment to seniors through the sharing of musical memories and the fascinating stories behind songs they know and love. The program brings participants on a guided tour of the history of popular music, from its earliest iterations in America in the 18th century, through the flowering of genres like blues, ragtime, jazz, country, and Rock and Roll, among other musical movements. Content can be customized for specific tastes or groups. 

Session and Program Details  

The program consists of 1 to 20 individual workshops, with each one-hour session featuring the stories behind a series of well-known songs along with performances of each one. The program is conversational and highly engaging. Rob encourages participants to share memories, and in certain cases to sing or clap along.

Virtual or In-Person Sessions

Currently, sessions are being held virtually through digital technology such as Zoom or Facebook Messenger. In-person sessions will be available in future depending on location of the participants and regulations. Sessions are typically scheduled at regular times on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. 

Songs Are Good for Us


Songs provide the backdrop to our lives and bring richness to our experiences. Studies show that music also helps create a sense of belonging, promotes overall positive health, reduces stress, and according to many studies, can enhance memory and mood.

About Rob Lutes

Rob Lutes is an acclaimed songwriter and performer, a multiple Maple Blues Award and Canadian Folk Music Award nominee and recipient of the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Singer of the Year. He has given workshops in schools and to seniors across Canada for many years, is an active member of Quebec's Cultural Education Repertoire and Learn Quebec's Artist's Inspire roster and has taught in the Festival Blues-sur-Seine’s (France) internationally recognized education program as well as the Ottawa Bluesfest Blues in Schools program. 

Contact:  Rob Lutes /  /  514.515.4413  


"I have done two art projects with Rob Lutes. He is an amazing teaching artist."
Deidre Potash, ArtWill Studio

"We have so enjoyed having Rob entertain, educate and help us revisit those great classic songs that are part of the playbook of our lives, these past two months! Recommended!"
Diane Kyte, Project Officer, English Community Organization of Lanaudiere

"Rob is such a knowledgeable presenter for our program “Stories behind the songs” on Senior Centre Without Walls! Our Older Adults participants were absolutely thrilled to have him on. They all agreed that the presentation is so wonderful and interesting, they were very much engaged in the stories Rob presented from beginning to end! We are glad to have Rob on Senior Center Without Walls and we really hope to have him back again in the future!"
Maisy N. - Senior Centre Without Walls, MB facilitator, Winnipeg

"Rob Lutes has offered deeply engaging Blues History and Songwriting workshops in partnership with ORA Loss & Living Program to create space for expressing grief, loss and hope. Highly recommended!"
Judy Coffin, Program Coordinator

“Insightful and comprehensive programming and delivery. My students were inspired and enlightened in music composition.” 
Craig Hodgson, John Rennie High School (music teacher)

“We had the pleasure of presenting “The Stories behind the Songs” series with Rob Lutes. Throughout the series, Rob captivated the audience, both as a musician and as a storyteller. He is knowledgeable, interesting, and connects with the audience who jump in in spontaneous sing along.  The joy was palpable and the feedback incredible.  This turned out to be one of the most successful series in our history, so much so that we decided to present an encore evening “The Stories behind the Christmas Carols”.  The entire audience of the series signed up, and the evening was sold out.  We will definitely invite him again and highly recommend him.”
Sylvie Bouchard, Chair of the Board, Arbor Gallery, Vankleek Hill

"I am happy to write a recommendation note for Rob Lutes. The Virtual Senior Center, part of Selfhelp Community Services, has had the pleasure of working with Rob for almost a year. The VSC Program connects Older Adults with live, interactive classes on many topics all year long. 
Rob’s classes on “History behind the Music” have been a tremendous hit with the Older Adults who attend his class. I am attaching a small selection of appreciative comments from the group. He has a great rapport with the group and they look forward to seeing him.
His classes mix the fascinating behind-the-scenes history of many musicians and musical styles along with the entertaining music. The members appreciate learning about the music they remember and also about the music that they may not be so familiar with. It’s a great combination of enjoyment and learning and geared to “feel good” times with each other as a community.
We’re impressed with Rob’s inexhaustible knowledge of music which crosses eras and genres and that he has his pulse on what works for our audience.
We look forward to working with him and his audience eagerly waits for his classes!
Carmella Chassen (Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator, Virtual Seniors Center

"What an amazing time we've had in your sessions, Rob. You are so talented and your sessions are so informative. We've learned a lot about the history of different genres of music and really enjoyed listening to you sing some old familiar songs as well as new ones. So sorry the sessions have ended."
Carol and Bill J, Chartwell Residence, Vaudreuil-Dorion

"I host a couple of coffee houses as well as a house concert series. Needless to say, we have been completely shut down since the beginning of the pandemic. Rob’s series has been such a gift for our patrons, who are starved for music and entertainment. Although several members of our group are quite knowledgeable about music and its history, every session brings new and interesting facts, delivered with Rob’s expert storytelling and performing skills. This activity has helped us maintain our connection and sense of community. Interestingly, not one member of the group has dropped out since enrolling a couple of months ago!"
Isabelle Delage, Host
The Side Door Coffee House
The Tilted Steeple Coffee House

Front Door House Concerts

"I highly recommend "The Stories behind the Songs" with Rob Lutes, a gifted musician and a lyric writer. Rob's research into the music and lyrics of the songs proves to be both interesting and entertaining. His stories add a great value to the history sessions. Our group has such a pleasant and fun time with Rob and his guitar."
Shirley Lamb, Chartwell Residence, Vaudreuil-Dorion

"As a senior I was part of a Music Appreciation programme that was conducted by Rob Lutes. 
Please note that Rob is not only a superb musician but that he was a real humanitarian and an ardent music historian. Each class over the length of the program was filled with relevant history of the times. The music chosen always represented them lives the social aspects of the  music  He was well researched on all topics and genders of music discussed.  His willingness have us participate and his fleet craft of storytelling whetted our appetites form more and more classes. We will miss his affable ways and is entertaining approach to his subject.  The cause of keeping seniors well entertained and included, was well served. Wherever he goes to give his service, he will share his joy of his craft."
Marion Lowe McLean | Les Passerelles Globale-BRIDGES,  Vaudreuil-Dorion

Merci du fond du coeur j'ai adoré votre atelier quel bon musicien vous êtes. Votre français est parfait.
Marie-Andrée Drolet, Vaudreuil-Dorion