Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What I did in Nashville

Most of you know that I did some songwriting in Nashville a few weeks ago. In many ways, the trip represented a new “chapter” in my story as an artist and songwriter, so I figured I’d share about it here for those who care.

OK, here’s the brief back story. About 10 years ago, I was approached by a record label regarding one of my songs. It was a song called “wake up” (it ended up on my 1999 CD Big Quiet Truth) that I wrote with my pal Andy Gullahorn, who many of you know and love. He’s probably one of the best songwriters alive today (I’m serious), and I totally ride his coattails any time I can. This was one of those times.

Anyway, Andy and I signed over the publishing (insert technical music biz mumbo-jumbo) to the record company and they agreed to try to pitch the song in pop, country, and Christian music circles. The deal was only for a year or two, and nothing really ever came of it. But during that time, my primary contact at the record label was an extremely nice lady who, for her privacy, I will call Lucy.

After a couple of years, the record label relinquished all the publishing back to me and Andy. Easy come, easy go. I went on with my life and lost touch with Lucy, who went on to become very successful and extremely connected and respected in the music biz.

Fast-forward until this past November. I was at a conference for Taxi, the indie A&R company (insert more technical music biz mumbo-jumbo) that I work with (these are the folks that are getting me the TV/film work that I talked about here). Thru a random circumstance, I ran into Lucy. I wasn’t sure who she was at first, but we started talking and quickly figured out how we knew each other.

Lucy asked about what I was doing these days, and I gave her the story. Then she took some of my music, and we exchanged contact info and wished each other the best.

Well, she called me a couple of weeks later and was really excited about my songwriting. She was quoting my lyrics and talking really specifically about stuff she liked, etc. Of course, as a songwriter, this was really a great encouragement to me, considering all the talent that Lucy has been around for the last couple of decades.

So after a decent amount of talking, I decided to hire her in a consulting role. Again, long story, but basically she was just agreeing to help me improve as a songwriter and help me make connections that would, ideally, lead to me being able to make a decent living as a writer. I love leading worship and doing concerts and producing in my studio and all that, but my real passion is writing songs.

So fast-forward again to February. Lucy arranged an entire week of co-writing sessions with professional writers in Nashville. It was really cool. Basically, I spent all day long, for 4 days straight, writing music with extremely gifted musicians and songwriters. Several of them have written hit songs on country, pop, and Christian radio.

Every writing session was totally different than the one before. I wrote music that was very normal to me, and I wrote stuff that was absolutely, completely different from what I normally write. That part of it was extremely rewarding and challenging. It’s hard to explain, but I just love making music. Obviously I enjoy writing the kind of music and lyrics that I would want to put on my own projects, but I also really enjoy just creating. And the idea that I could get paid to create; well, that’s just insane and beautiful and cool.

Well, so far nothing significant has come out of my time there, in terms of big career stuff or money, but it was a fantastic learning experience, and I made some great relationships and – I think – helped write some good songs that may someday end up on the radio or on someone else’s projects.

I also got to hang out with my good friends Andy and Jill Gullahorn, and I got to (randomly) spend some cool time in the studio watching Andrew Peterson record cello and organ for his new record. That was kind of “geek out” moment for me.

That’s really all that’s worth telling. I’ll keep you all posted when/if things develop. I’ll be heading back to Nashville soon for more of the same. We’ll see where it leads.

One more thing. I’ve done some good writing for my own projects as well. I hope to get back in the studio early in the summer for a new project of “grown up” music. I’ll keep you all posted on that front as well.

OK, that’s it. Not sure who actually cares about any of this, but I just figured it was worth telling the 4 or 5 of you who like to keep up.

More soon!


Jeff said...

Awesome! I'm excited for the opportunities God's opening up for you- it'll be a cool thing to watch.

leslie said...

that is SO cool! I'm so jealous of you getting to have those song-writing sessions, and really excited for you.

Meghann said...

Ross, we love hearing what you are up to and are so excited about these open doors! You are an amazing songwriter and your lyrics really challenge me. So maybe I don't say it enough (or at all...) but thank you for all you do! God has blessed you with a gift and the courage to use it (maybe it isn't courageous to you but it is to me) and you are blessing others. It's how it is supposed to be!!! Yay! Looking forward to hearing more.