twilawebpicSo what is Good Coffee, Great Songs all about?  Well, as you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s really a good excuse for songwriters to come together to share, listen, write, connect and learn more about songwriting.  Most songwriters I know love coffee and start off their writing sessions with a cup of java in hand.  I must admit, I’m not much of a coffee connoisseur but I do love the aroma and am quite intrigued by the power of a pot of coffee.  It brings people together.  It causes people to linger, talk, connect,  listen to each other…all while consuming this hot dark brew.  It seems like an invisible gravitational force is at work, drawing songwriters to coffee shops to sing and to listen to songs.  We just can’t get enough.  Maybe it’s because it causes us to slow down a bit.  We sit still, have a cup of coffee and listen to a songwriter pour out his or her heart. We seem to crave the opportunity to connect to people and to God through our songs.  As a singer/songwriter I get it.

I started writing songs as a kid and was consumed with it by the time I was 15 years old.  I knew deep inside that I was meant to be a “songwriter,” even if I didn’t possess all the skills or the knowledge of how to craft a good song at that time.  I was a songwriter in the making and that was all I needed to believe that I was indeed going to be a songwriter some day.  In my early twenties I chased the dream even more fervently and spent most of my time writing and programming songs on my synthesizer, ever searching for the right hook, line, groove or melody.  I finally moved to Nashville in 1995 and instantly felt that I was right where I belonged – surrounded by songwriters.  Songwriters from all walks of life, from all over the country. We all had that craving – to write songs.  We all shared that hope of landing a cut some day and writing a better song than we did the day before.

Prior to moving to Nashville I had written many songs and had recorded quite a few demos.  I had even made connections with a few Christian music publishers in Nashville and a couple of those publishers were interested in my songwriting.  They encouraged me and challenged me to keep writing and to co-write.   I made up my mind early on that I would listen to all advice, input or wisdom that any publisher would bestow upon me and would maintain a “teachable” attitude.  To have a couple of well known publishers interested in a few of my songs was such a thrill.  I thought I had “made it.”  No, I still didn’t have any cuts at that time but all I needed was just a tiny glimmer of hope to fuel my dream even more.  I lived and breathed to write songs.  For after all, I was a “songwriter.”  I could not NOT write.  I HAD to write.  And write songs I did!

bmipicSince then I’ve been wildly blessed to have been a staff songwriter for several publishing companies since moving to Nashville in 1995 (McSpadden-Smith Music, Word Music, Spring Hill Music Group, Brentwood Benson Music Publishing and Universal Music Group).   I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have had many of my songs recorded over the years by some of the top Christian groups and artists in CCM and Southern Gospel music, (Avalon, Vince Gill, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Jeff and Sheri Easter,  The Talley Trio, Charles Billingsley,  Point of Grace, Dottie Peoples, Babbie Mason, Legacy Five, Brian Free and Assurance, Triumphant Quartet and more).  It has been such joy to have had many of my songs on Christian radio and on the charts. I’ve had songs recorded in musicals, octavos and choral arrangements and many have been sung by choirs in churches all across the country.  A few of my songs have literally been sung all over the world – “Orphans of God,” to name one.  This song received 2 Dove Award nominations and received a BMI award in 2008 for one of the most performed songs on Christian radio, (recorded by Avalon and the Talley Trio).  Sometimes I look back and see that 15 year old girl in West Virginia who dreamed of some day writing songs for Christian artists and I just have to smile.  I’m happy I never let go of my dream, even when it felt like it was unattainable at times.

Fast forward to 2014.  Chasing my songwriting dream over the years has been quite a journey.  I’ll tell you, it hasn’t been easy.  Many of my songs have been rejected or never cut. Most songwriters I know would tell you the very same story.  It’s been hard work but in spite of rejection or songs that sit on a shelf we still have a passion to write more songs.  It’s because we have an addiction.  We’re dreamers.  It’s embedded in our DNA to keep pursuing the song, to keep chasing the hooks and ideas, in search of THE song…the GREAT song.  I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.  Because I’m a songwriter.  It’s just who I am.
If you’re a songwriter I bet you’re a lot like me.  You’re probably a dreamer, too, and you long to pursue becoming a better songwriter.  My goal is to help better equip you in your pursuit of songwriting, to arm you with the basics and provide open critiques of your songs while encouraging and guiding you in your preparation for future co-writing sessions.

Sure, some of us may be in different places in the journey of songwriting but we’re all on the same road.  My desire is to help you get a little closer to your destination and help you dig deeper to write better songs.   I look forward to meeting you at one of my songwriting workshops soon!   Until then, pour yourself a good cup of coffee and start writing a great song!