September 18th was the Josie Music Awards, held at the Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge TN. It is the biggest multi genre music award show in the world. I am associated with the Tennessee Songwriters Association International here in Nashville and I broadcast their showcases on the Music City Arts channel of the local NECAT network.
I went to the local TSAI meeting here on September 22 where some of our local talent was celebrating their nominations and awards. To be nominated and receive this level of recognition is a major achievement with such a large organization. Over 38,000 submissions were made and only the top 2.8% were nominees. TSAI had well over 100 of those nominations. Our talent pool had the honor of several nominations and some winners.
So many, in fact, that I do not have room to mention them all here. A few of the nominees, finalists and winners include: Joe DeLucas, Corey Lee Barker, Melissa Lee, Dawn Rix, James Cazad (posthumously) and Brooke Butler. In addition, Rebecca Mae Lawless won Vocalist of the Year for Christian/Gospel, Jimmy Parker Entertainer of the Year for Traditional Country and David Baker for Photographer of the Year 2021. I am very proud of all of these dedicated talents.
This article is about more than just the recognition of these songwriters. It is about their lifestyle. First of all, they work hard at their craft. They volunteer and serve on boards, committees, and work at events all because of their passion for what they do. They continually have to face adversity, discouragement, and at times they feel like they are not making progress, but, they do not quit! The life of most songwriters, especially those not employed by large publishing companies, is one of continuous self promotion, most times, with little or no results.
They rack their brains writing radio ready songs. They often work with co-writers, participate in their organization's pitches to publishers, artists, producers and others. On many occasions their songs are selected for further consideration which may result in a cut by some indie or well known artist.
Other times they are passed over, not because their song was not good, but because it did not fit the artist or what was needed for the project at that moment. Regardless of that, everyday they chase the dream and try to write that next big hit. Many of the writers I have met have struggled from time to time with finances, performing to small crowds of mostly other writers at showcases with no pay.
Despite this they listen and continue to encourage each other. Just last week on September 15th, Steve Stern hosted a writers night at the Rudder on Old Hickory Lake at the Anchor High Marina. It poured down rain. Equipment had to be moved immediately to the restaurant. But nearly every writer scheduled to appear came and performed.
I will tell you this as an observer, it was worth it to me. Steve brought two of his band members there to back up the songwriters. Their songs were presented well with lead guitar and bass along with background vocals from other writers, when needed, and all of this on a rainy night in Hendersonville TN.
It is passion and love of the craft that drives them all. So when you see a songwriters' showcase advertised, go see them and support these fine and talented people. They live to entertain you, give you a piece of themselves and all for maybe nothing more than applause or a smile.
You see, music is what brings us together. Someone has to pay a price for our entertainment. It all starts with a song and the songwriter.
by J Raleigh Jones