Guest Blog: Songwriters Gave America Much — It’s Time to Return the Favor
Sue Ennis is a nationally-recognized songwriter, educator, and Trustee of The Recording Academy. The Academy’s comments to the Dept. of Justice can be viewed here
Recently, a woman I’d never met before told me I’d had a huge impact in her life.
That might seem odd to most people, but to a songwriter, it’s one of those gratifying moments when you learn the impact that your song –in this case, “Dog & Butterfly” – has had on others. Most songwriters have regular encounters such as this; the songs we put out into the world can help people experience joy, celebrate milestones, and cope through hard times.
But today, many songwriters are coping with hard times more frequently. And this is unlikely to change unless the U.S. Department of Justice takes action.
Guest Blog: Abby Weitz, “Writing From Your Happy Place”
Just about every talented songwriter and musician that I’ve ever encountered has always had the same problem. They’re amazing at their craft, but when it comes to relationships, they’re absolutely terrible. I myself am included in this group of creatives.
My name is Abby Weitz and I am the songwriter for my band, Wise Girl. I’ve been obsessed with songs and melodies since I was a kid, and I get really emotional when I hear a beautiful melody or a song that just blows me away. Sometimes it even affects me so intensely, that I get chills and a wave of nausea rises over me. Normal, right?
Guest Blog: Will Dailey, “Portrait of an Artist Wearing Multiple Hats”
Will Dailey is a pop-folk artist and three-time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Singer/Songwriter. His songs have been featured in over 50 films and shows and his new album, National Throat, comes out August 26. Dailey is also an avid blogger and some of his work was recently featured on the Huffington Post.
I’ve had to wear a lot of hats to survive in the business of music. This has been my experience. Obvious hat titles: “songwriter,” “singer,” “guitarist,” and “performer” have been bolstered by the more inconspicuous roles: “self-promoter,” “booker,” “marketer” and “producer.” While it has taken wearing a mountain of hats for me to survive in the music business, it has informed me as an artist and fueled what I’ve created.
You may have heard Craig Bickhardt's songs in the Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies or sung by artists such as Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Alison Krauss and B. B. King. He has appeared on Austin City Limits, the Grand Ol Opry, Mountain Stage and has shared the concert stage with Bruce Springsteen, Harry Chapin, Hank Williams Jr. and dozens of legendary performers in a career that spans more than four decades.
I live for those days when the songs emerge unexpectedly as if from half-forgotten dreams. Some mornings, if I remain still and keep my eyes closed I can recall fragments of a dream song. My song “Easy Fires” was dreamed and written from fragments of memory, at least the essence of it was. A song can also begin as a shy whisper, a barely audible murmur within. It isn’t the Muse exactly, but maybe the mythology has some basis in fact. I’ve occasionally had the impression upon listening to some other writer’s song that it was a specter that visited me once and got turned away because I wasn’t ready or willing to be its mouthpiece.
Guest Blog: The Decemberists’ Nate Query on Composing with Black Prairie
I’m really a bass player, but I’m a composer, too, if not in the most typical fashion. Since I started playing bass at age 13, it’s has been my niche in music and in my community. I don’t really sing, and I never much thought of myself as a songwriter. A few years ago, however, I started an experimental acoustic band that has given me a chance to flex my songwriting muscles and be more than just a bass player.
When Black Prairie formed in 2007, part of the concept was that everyone (five of us at the time) bring songs to the group, sort of like the Strength in Numbers supergroup of the late 80′s. We played all acoustic instruments (and still do, albeit plugged in), and we spent years meeting in living rooms over coffee and pastries to write and play music.
Guest Blog: Karen Bernod On The Art Of Singing Background Vocals
THE ART OF BLENDING ONE’S VOICE AS A BACKGROUND SINGER: ACCOMPANYING THE ICONS OF THE BIZ
Karen Bernod has been a backing vocalist for Chaka Khan, Eryka Badu and Mary J. Blige. Her latest album, #PlantingSeeds is due in October.
Let me first preface by saying the immediate joy I get from singing background is like a Mad Scientist who just discovered the Law of relativity. Oh! He’s a happy camper. Satisfied, gratified, inspired, intrigued, while accomplishing something great.
Music is the Universal Language. Nowhere else on God’s green Earth can you gather people together from all walks of life, different ethnicities, religious beliefs under one roof. All belonging to one race. The Human race where Music brought them together in one accord. For however long that time is…it is a pure Oneness. We are all jamming to the same groove, beat, harmony and singing in unison. It is a beautiful sight to see and even more wonderful to hear.
Guest Blog: Bryan Simpson On Writing For Others, His Band, And Himself
Former Cadillac Sky frontman and occasional hit Nashville songwriter Bryan Simpson has resurfaced with a new project, The Whistles And The Bells. Here he rants about life as a songwriter in Music City. It’s somewhat assumed that the more time spent in a profession leads to an increased knowledge of one’s said profession. If you do something long enough you’ll get better at it quickly, and certainly more proficient, as the process becomes more defined. A good auto mechanic can do a decent job of diagnosing your rambling wreck’s illness by just hearing it huff and puff its way into his garage. A seasoned politician will continue to perfect the art of crafting a lie and hiding the twitch he once had as a young bushy tailed do-gooder, all the while promising something that can’t be delivered with every race he or she runs.
But songwriting seems to be another beast in itself; at least for me. The formula for writing a great song seems to be getting further away from me all the time. The more I learn, the less I know kind of thing. The creative process is a deep mystery that I am a long way from solving. ie. Why do I sometimes struggle for one word for two hours in the room with a co-writer and then the moment I leave the room I find the verse spray painted on the kitchen or bathroom walls like grafitti on a NY city subway train. Why do words like “crept” and “electricity” reverberate in my soul while functional words and rhymes like “baby” and “crazy” may me feel like I’m making out with my cousin at a family reunion. I have hunches but I really don’t know. This dragon called songwriting has a lot of skin left to shed. Of that, I am sure.
Guest Blog: Chaz Langley On His Songwriting Process
Chaz Langley began honing his craft in singing, dancing and acting under the direction of Chip Gallagher. Since then he has begun his journey into the world of live stage, background vocals, demos, jingles, voice overs and eventually performing all over the world. Now, Langley bringing his experiences personally and professionally to his long awaited EP, due out this spring.
I’ve learned the invaluable craft of songwriting from the songwriting capital of the world… Nashville! I do not discriminate to any particular genre, which allows me to write freely without borders. I simply write music I want to hear. I’ve had the pleasure early on in my songwriting career to write with some amazing writers. To mention, Grammy nominated and winning writers like Ryan Tedder of One Republic, Tina Shafer (best known for her work with Celine Dion and Billy Porter), not to mention a select few of other talented writers with whom I’ve shared a writing room or a Nashville or New York apartment to create a great song!
I used to take the subway downtown to work every morning when I lived in a little loft apartment a few steps away from Fenway Park in Boston. As I watched people getting on the train at each stop, I’d dream of writing songs, making a difference, maybe not being so alone. Here I was in this cramped space with all these people, still alone.
Sometimes I’d wonder what these people’s lives looked like: what they were going home to, if they were frustrated or happy or alive, or just getting by; if they were living ordinary lives, or doing something extraordinary. Back then I thought there was a difference.
Guest Blog: Marc Scibilia On Working With Butch Walker
At heart Marc Scibilia is a New York born American singer-songwriter, with a little East Nashville flair. His latest EP The Shape I’m In is a strong opening statement from a charismatic singer who is hard to pigeon-hole. Scibilia is currently in the studio he owns in Nashville, working with Butch Walker towards his first full -length album.
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When I first moved to Nashville, a friend told me that all I needed to do to “make it” was to work withButch Walker. I knew his music and I knew he had an incredible reputation as a producer, as a writer and as an artist in his own right. But I did not know him, nor did I have any idea how to connect with him. I just filed the advice away and forgot about it.