Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriter Shawn Colvin makes her life an open book

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Aug 03, 2012 @10:19 AM

Edited by Jessica Brandon

Shawn Colvin, songwriter

Shawn Colvin recently published memoir, “Diamond in the Rough.”  Colvin, 56, has struggled at various times with depression, alcoholism, eating disorders and failed relationships.

At the same time, she’s had a career as a singer-songwriter that has netted her three Grammy awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year for “Sunny Came Home” from the 1996 album “A Few Small Repairs.”

That controversial song told about a woman burning down her home – making “a few small repairs” to a presumably unsatisfactory life.

“It’s scary to write a book that’s personally revealing, so to get some positive feedback is very rewarding,” she said in a recent telephone interview from Cape Cod, MA.

The book raises questions about how she’s been able to have the long career she’s had, given the problems she has struggled to surmount.

“I think you can ask anyone else with a chronic illness and find that, between treatment that’s successful and other coping mechanisms, you do carry on for the most part,” she said. “There are periods you’re not able to do your best, but it’s like battling any other chronic disease. It’s very uncomfortable at times.

“It’s really just a question of dealing with your illness and doing your job,” she said. “Yeah, I’m on stage and I suppose that has its pressures. But it’s what I’m familiar with and able to do, even when not feeling my best.”

Colvin, who was born in South Dakota but grew up elsewhere, learned guitar early and moved to Texas in the late 1970s, where she absorbed folk, rock, country and other musical elements.

She came to New York in the 1980s and made a mark in Greenwich Village folk-rock circles, singing backup on Suzanne Vega’s “Luka.”

Columbia Records signed her and released “Steady On,” which won her fast attention as a singer-songwriter to watch for the title song, “Diamond in the Rough” and “Shotgun Down the Avalanche.” (All were written with John Leventhal.)

The title song, co-penned by longtime partner John Leventhal, has dark lyrics about the way “the best of ’em wind up sweepin’ dirt off the street,” but it also has the kind of slashing, high-spirited rock ’n’ roll guitar hooks more suitable for dancing than somber reflection.

“The title song, even if it’s about struggle, is pretty upbeat, a pretty fun song,” she said. “We came up with the title together first. But I didn’t know what really to say. But you just start chipping away; you get a line here and a line there, and it starts to lead you on.”

“Also, (songwriting) has a great deal to do with how it sings. I don’t just sit there with a piece of paper and hear music in my head and then write lyrics. You have to sing along and see what comes out. Sometimes you don’t plan it – words just come. It’s a strange process, but you know when it’s working.”

Colvin has a loyal following now, but acknowledges it isn’t what it was when “Sunny Came Home” rose into the Top 10 and “A Few Small Repairs” sold almost a million copies (according to www.allmusic.com). She was one of the headliners of the 1997 Lilith Fair, a tour featuring women singer-songwriters that itself became heralded as a concert-industry trendsetter.

But that high didn’t last. “I don’t want to diminish that time when I had a big song,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. It was a time when singer-songwriters, especially women, were very popular. For me it was the perfect storm of right place, right time, right person.

“I loved the song and I think it deserved the attention it got. But I don’t set out to have big hits. I’m happy with where I am and where I’ve always been. The fans with me are the fans who will always be with me. I just happened to have a great ride, a very interesting experience.”


Source: The Community Press & Recorder, Cincinnati

 

For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 

  

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Grammy Awards, Shawn Colvin, Sunny Came Home

Vince Gill Showcases Songwriting Strengths

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 @05:29 PM

By Michael McCall (Edited by Jessica Brandon)

Vince Gill, Singer-Songwriter

(Source: Associated Press) The title of Vince Gill’s new album focuses on his instrumental skills. But the music more intently highlights another talent: songwriting. On “Guitar Slinger,” Gill concentrates on lyrics about friends and issues, turning out stories that are sometimes entertaining and often touching.

Some draw on his sense of humor: The title is a roadhouse rocker inspired by Gill’s catastrophic loss of musical equipment in Nashville’s 2010 flood. Others confront tragedy: “Bread and Water” is based on the death of Gill’s older brother, who struggled with daily existence after suffering a severe head injury. “Billy Paul” questions why a close friend took such a deadly turn, while “Buttermilk John” honors the late steel guitarist John Hughey, who worked with Gill for many years.

As usual, Gill’s guitar playing adds color to his songs, and he balances the difficult stories with those of love and faith: “Who Wouldn’t Fall In Love With You” is a beautiful love song to his wife Amy Grant, and “Threaten Me With Heaven” explores his religious beliefs.

Altogether, “Guitar Slinger” shows Gill utilizing a veteran’s craft to delve into truths essential to who he is. It shows how a superstar can age gracefully while continuing to sharpen his talents.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “If I Die,” written with Ashley Monroe of the Pistol Annies, is an emotionally resonant prayer that balances sin and salvation in beautiful terms.

Vince Gill has recorded more than twenty studio albums, charted over forty singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs, and has sold more than 22 million albums. He has been honored by the Country Music Association with 18 CMA Awards, including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards. Gill has also earned 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other male Country music artist. In 2007, Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to:

http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, hit songwriter, singer songwriter, Grammy Awards, Vince Gill, CMA Awards

Singer Songwriter Barry Manilow Fears Songwriting Is History

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 @02:32 PM

Singer Songwriter Barry Manilow Fears Songwriting Is History

Barry Manilow, singer songwriter

Veteran singer Barry Manilow fears the art of songwriting has been lost amid the mass of modern technology used by young musicians.

The Mandy hitmaker loves listening to new music created using computers and drum machines, but he is adamant the devices are replacing the craft of penning simple tracks that can be performed on any instrument.

He tells Fox411's Pop Tarts column, "I'm very involved in the machinery and the technical ways of making music these days, and it is exciting for young people, writing music on their computers with loops and drum machines and making gorgeous, exciting sounding records.

"But what I miss is well-written songs with great ideas, wonderful lyrics, beautiful rhymes and wonderful melodies. I don't hear that anymore, I feel very angry about that. People are making great records because of all the technical abilities, but what I try to do is turn all that stuff off. Do you have a song when you're done?

"I tell these young people to turn off the drums and all that stuff, and ask themselves is there a melody and lyrics there? Can you just sing it there with a guitar or are you locked into all these machines? I don't think they do. If there is one thing I miss in music these days it is great songwriting. I think we've lost it."

(Source: FOX411’s Pop Tarts)

For information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Billboard Charts, singer songwriter, top 40, Billboard #1 Hit, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Billboard, Barry Manilow, Songwriting Fears, modern technology, music computer, loops, drum machines

2011 USA Songwriting Competition Radio Podcast

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sat, May 21, 2011 @12:53 PM


MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

 

Alannah Myles, songwriter

Tune in to the 2011 USA Songwriting Competition Podcast, this features never before heard demo versions of the winners of the USA Songwriting Competition (past & present). Click on the audio player above to listen to the music. 

Music featured in this podcast by:

Kate Voegele – Only Fooling Myself

This version is the demo version before it was re-produced and re-mixed when she was signed to Interscope Records. This song went on to hit Top 40 on the Billboard Charts. 


Ari Gold – Where The Music Takes You Writers: Ari Gold, Joe Hogue 'JOJOHO' & Sean Petersen

This song is a demo version before it was remixed and reproduced and before it hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts. 


Alannah Myles – Give Me Love (see pictured above) Writers: Alannah Myles & Nancy Simmonds

Rosie Casey & Hillary Podell – Is That So Bad
Writers: Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell

Amelia Curran – The Mistress

ASON - Be Inspired

Ian Holmes – More
Writers: Raleigh Hall & Gordon Chambers

Pepper MaShay – Does Yo Mamma Know

Christopher Tin – Baba Yetu

This song went on to win 2 Grammy awards in 2011, making Christopher the only USA Songwriting Competition winner to ever win 2 or more Grammy awards in one evening. 

 

USA Songwriting Competition promotes the art & excellence in songwriting. For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Berklee, Ken Hirsch, Kate Voegele, Ari Gold, Billboard Charts, Alannah Myles, Pepper Mashay, Grammy Awards, Hal David, Christopher Tin, Raleigh Hall, Amelia Curran, ASON, Gordon Chambers

Songwriters Tip: Tearing Down Walls With Your Teeth

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 04, 2011 @10:31 AM

Tearing Down Walls With Your Teeth by Molly-Ann Leikin

Molly-Ann Leikin

 

Have you looked at the Billboard charts lately, and wondered – why aren’t I there?

My songs, production chops, my voice, my performance – I’m as talented as anybody out there, and then some. So why is someone else having the hits, and not me?

Often, the difference between you and the guy in the front row at the Grammys holding the award, is one more phone call.

As sensitive people, we don’t have built-in hustle muscles. The irony is, we need them more than ever. Truthfully, no matter how talented, if you’re not willing to tear down walls with your teeth, stay out of the music business. The race is to the hungry, not necessarily the best.

The odds are against somebody swooping down and discovering you while you stay home singing to the squirrels. But, if you are brave enough to make one call a day, every day, to one new music contact, at the end of a year, you’ll have 365 new people in your business life. If only 10% of them ever listen to a note, that’s still 36. And all it takes is one.

Remember: the difference between you and the guy in the first row at the Grammys with the award in his hand, is one more phone call.

Make that call.

 

© 2011 Molly-Ann Leikin

Molly-Ann Leikin is a Career Mastery Coach and Songwriting Consultant.  An Emmy nominee, Molly has 14 gold and platinum records, plus four ASCAP Country Music Awards.  She's the author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter" and has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Violet” that won an Oscar.  

Molly has helped launch the careers of thousands of singers and songwriters, three of whom have Grammy nominations. She can be reached at: www.songmd.com or 800-851-6588.

Tags: song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, writing songs, Billboard Charts, Molly-Ann Leikin, Grammy Awards, writing lyrics, music career, musician, Music Career Coach, How To Write A Hit Song

USA Songwriting Competition's Christopher Tin Wins 2 Grammy Awards

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @02:35 PM

Christopher Tin

USA Songwriting Competition winner Christopher Tin wins 2 Grammy Awards at last night's 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. This marks a historic win, making Christopher the only USA Songwriting Competition winner to win 2 Grammy Awards in the same year. Christopher Tin won an honorable mention award at the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition with the same song that won two Grammy awards. 


Christopher Tin is an American, Grammy-winning composer whose work is primarily classical, with a world music influence. He won two Grammy Awards for his classical crossover album, Calling All Dawns. He is also a composer for films, video games and commercials. Tin is best known for his composition Baba Yetu, featured in the 2005 computer game, Civilization IV. Christopher Tin made video game history today, becoming the first composer to win a Grammy Award for a song composed for a game. Tin took out the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles yesterday for his composition "Baba Yetu", the opening track from Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Tin also won the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album for his debut album, Calling All Dawns, which also features the song "Baba Yetu".


He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, becoming the first to be awarded one for film scoring, to study composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London, and he graduated with a MMus with Distinction. He was also the winner of the Horovitz composition prize, and graduated with the highest grades in his class. He was also commissioned by the US Embassy in London to compose music for a string quartet. In 2003, he became a Sundance Institute Film Music Lab Fellow.
Darrell Scott (2005 USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Country) was nominated for a Grammy Award of Best Country Instrumental Performance of his song "Willow Creek" at the latest 53rd Grammy awards. 


Past USA Songwriting Competition winners that have gone on to win Grammy awards include: Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxler who won first prize in the Children's catgeory of the USA Songwriting 2004 and won a Grammy in 2005. Current top winner of the USA Songwriting Competition, Alannah Myles won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in 1991. Dave Merenda (Honorable Mention Winner, 15th USA Songwriting Competition) won a grammy award as a co-writer with Sarah McLaughlin with their song "I will Remember You". Dave will be performing live at USA Songwriting Competition's songwriters showcase during the SXSW (South By South West) on Friday 18, 2011 at Borders Books & Music (4477 S. Lamar, Austin, TX).


USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting success, recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music. 

For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit:

http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, USA Songwriting Competition, Composer, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Hits, Christopher Tin, Royal College of Music, London, composing

Music Veterans Dominate Top Two Spots In USA Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 @09:22 PM

Alannah Myles, USA Songwriting Competition Top Winner

Results of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition have been announced. Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles and prolific Los Angeles songwriter Ken Hirsch won the top two positions of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition respectively. This also marks the first time that music industry veterans dominate the top two positions of the USA Songwriting Competition fifteen year history.

Toronto Canada based Alannah Myles and co-writer Nancy Simmonds won Overall Grand Prize as well as the first prize of the Rock/Alternative category with their song “Give Me Love”. Alannah Myles is known for her Classic Rock hit “Black Velvet”. “Black Velvet” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990, won a Grammy award in 1991 for the same song. That song has become a classic and is a mainstay on Classic Rock and Pop radio stations worldwide. With her latest win, Alannah Myles is launching a comeback. This also marks only the second time that the top prize went to a non-US based songwriter. The last time the top prize when to a non-US based songwriter was 2006 when Vikki Simpson of the group “The Waifs” won.

 


Ken Hirsch, USA Songwriting Competition 1st Prize Winner (Pop Category)

Ken Hirsch and co-writers Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell of Los Angeles, CA won first prize in the Pop category as well as Overall second Prize with their song “Is that So Bad”. Ken Hirsch is a prolific songwriter with several hits on the charts and is well known for his number one hit “I've Never Been To Me”. Like Alannah Myles's “Black Velvet”, “I've Never Been To Me” has also become a classic hit and is a mainstay on Classic Pop, Soft Rock and easy listening radio stations worldwide. Ken has also written hits such as “Two Less Lonely People In The World”, a top 40 hit for Air Supply which he wrote with late legendary songwriter Howard Greenfield. Ken Hirsch has his songs recorded by music legends such as: Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton. Ray Charles and Mary J. Blige.  Rounding of the top three is Ason, a Hip-Hop up-and-coming act from Upper Marlboro, MD, who won Overall Third Prize as well as First Prize in the Hip-Hop category. 

Other winners of the USA Songwriting Competition were amazed by the top 3 placements. Sherri Gough, who won the first prize in the Lyrics Only category said "Wow, I'm humbled that I was even in the same category with these songwriters, Congratulations to the top three winners".  

Music industry insiders have been impressed with the quality of songs submitted at the USA Songwriting Competition. "Very high caliber of submissions. USA Songwriting Competition is always ahead of the curve", said Rob Reinhart, DJ of the "Acoustic Cafe", a syndicated radio program that appears in 65 different radio stations in US and Canada. "USA Songwriting Competition is a great place for talent to be found", said Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Records. 

Christopher Tin, an Honorable Mention winner of the 15th USA Songwriting Competition has been nominated for two Grammys at the latest 53rd annual Grammy Awards: 'Best Classical Crossover Album', and 'Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists' for his USA Songwriting Competition song entry 'Baba Yetu'. 'Baba Yetu' won an honorable mention award in the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. For the list of full winners, see: http://www.songwriting.net/winners


USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Darrell Scott, winner of the country category of the 2005 USA Song writing Competition had his winning song cut by award winning country singer Faith Hill. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music

Entries are currently being accepted for the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Winning songs of the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition will receive airplay on a nationally syndicated radio program “Acoustic Café” as well as Sirius XM Satellite Radio. This is the first Songwriting Competition that gives airplay to the winning songs, giving deserving bands, songwriters the recognition and exposure they deserve. Entrants stand to win a grand prize of over US$50,000 in cash and music gear from sponsors such as Sony, D’Addario Strings, Ableton, Audio-Technica, Presonus, IK Multimedia, and more, making this the largest prize package for any annual songwriting competition. Other sponsors include: New Music Weekly, Loggins Promotion, AirplayAccess.com, Onboard Research, Acoustica, Livewire Musician, Sonoma Wireworks, Rockstar Texting, Image line Recording magazine and Premier Guitar magazine.

 

Songs may be entered in 15 different categories including Pop, Rock/Alternative, R&B and Country. Entries are accepted from now through May 31, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.songwriting.net 


Tags: Ken Hirsch, Alannah Myles, Billboard #1 Hit, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Christopher Tin, Black Velvet, Classic Pop, Classic Rock, Evergreen Hits, I've Never Been To Me