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Member Spotlight

Interview with Singer-Songwriter Ava Paige

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Ava PaigeDan Reifsnyder:  You’ve gotten into music very young…you’re only 14! How did that come about?

Ava Paige: I was born into a musical family meaning I’ve always have music around me. Dad and Mom both played musical instruments in school. I picked up my first guitar at 6 and knew right away I wanted to play. Mom and Dad bought me my first guitar for Christmas and I started lessons in January 2011 and have had lessons almost every week since. I play about 5 hours every day! My guitar coach is Corban Calhoun. I started singing before I could talk and writing songs before I could write. I would hand my mom paper and say “I wrote a song, write it down for me!” I started voice lessons at 8 yrs old and still take lessons every week. My Voice Coach is Brian Lucas / VoiceLab.

I knew I liked music, but Memorial Day weekend 2015, my family was eating at a marina restaurant in Old Hickory and Lightning 100 was there doing a karaoke night. I jumped up to sing some songs because no one else was and then Kelly Clarkson was there eating with her family and Reba and Kelly came up to do a song with a friend she was with and when she was done I just asked her to sing with me and she said yes! The entire thing was recorded and on YouTube (I didn’t have a YouTube at the time). News channels came out to interview me and it went a little crazy. Articles came out all over the world and then I knew at that time I wanted to do this the rest of my life.

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

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Interview with Songwriter Riley Bria

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Dan Reifsnyder: So tell me about how you got into music

Riley Bria: So my dad always played guitar. He’s played in some bands back in Jersey in the day. At a really young age – like 4 – I showed interest. I got lessons at 8 and took lessons until I was 14. We had a family band that started when I was about 12, and that was huge for me. That was really, really big. My dad was the musical director and he wrote the tunes. We had a standard – we all wrote tunes but we never played any of the songs that the kids wrote because they just literally weren’t good enough. Which is cool, because from a young age you have a standard set for what your show needs to be. So we did that, he wrote the songs, mom booked the shows. My older brother, Jaden, on drums, my younger brother, Spencer, on bass. I was on guitar and we all sang harmonies. We did that for about five years, and then moved here when I was 17.

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

RB: Kieth Urban, for sure. This band called The 1975 has been real real big for me. I had an ex-girlfriend introduce them to me a few years ago, and that was a game changer listening to their music. I’m sure everyone has that kind of moment, but it just really opened my eyes. Like instead of using genres as boxes, using them as kind of a palette to paint your picture with. They kind of broke that mold. So Keith, them, I love 80’s hair metal so like Skid Row, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and all that good stuff. Randy Rhoads was one of my favorite guitarists growing up. I don’t really play much like him, but I love his playing so much.

DR: So who do you play like?

RB: I probably play more like Keith. I really like his melodic picks. He doesn’t play fast, I get the fast stuff from the 80’s dudes and the melodic stuff from like the Keith vibe.

DR: How did you get hooked up with GSC?

RB: Actually through a friend from back home in Pennsylvania, Riley Roth.

DR: Oh I know Riley! She’s great! We’ve actually interviewed her!

RB: Yeah, she’s great. I’ve known Riley for so long. Like I know the first songs that she wrote and watched her perform it for one of the first times. Yeah, she told me about Sheree!

DR: The Rileys!

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Making Connections with a “Music City” TV Placement

Music City TV Placement
GSC Member Patrick Dodge has been writing via Skype and Facetime and traveling back and forth to Nashville for potential writing opportunities for several years now. More and more these days, Patrick is in Nashville almost as much as he is in New York since he has family who now live in town.

On Patrick’s many trips to Nashville, GSC has been connecting him to various co-writes through our services such as Coach Writes and Peer-to-Peer writes through our one-on-one mentoring sessions. At one recent Coach Write Session featuring artist/writer Jeffrey East, Sheree encouraged Patrick to bring an artist into the co-write. Patrick chose the amazing talents of Jessica Mack who is a featured artist on the CMT original show “Music City.” Watch the video and we will let Patrick tell you…”The Rest of The Story!” Congrats to Patrick, Jessica and Jeffrey!


GSC Member Brenna Beatty Named Talent Grand Champion

Brenna Beatty

Path to Fame

17-Year-Old Singer/Songwriter Named Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition Grand Champion

 Springfield, Tennessee’s Brenna Beatty will begin a 12-month career development program with Nashville-based talent executive as well as perform at Pigeon Forge theaters.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 18, 2018) — A 17-year-old singer/songwriter from Springfield, Tennessee, was named grand champion of the Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition on Saturday (June 16) at the Smoky Mountain Opry. Brenna Beatty was selected from 12 contestants all vying for the title.

Beatty will spend the next year working with John Alexander on career development. Alexander was instrumental in the careers of Patty Loveless and platinum-selling country star Kelsea Ballerini. Alexander, who was one of four judges for the finals, will work with Beatty, a prolific songwriter, and establish instrumental industry meetings with top executives, songwriters and more.

Approximately 450 contestants registered to compete in the Pigeon Forge Path to Fame. A three-month auditions tour visited Cincinnati, Nashville and Atlanta and produced four finalists from each city, all of whom competed in Saturday’s finals. Contestants competed for a grand prize package that includes a 12-month career mentorship with Alexander and a consultation with Ballerini.

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Interview with Songwriter, Molly Lyon

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Molly Lyon

Dan Reifsnyder: So tell me about your music!

Molly Lyon: So I kind of consider it singer/songwriter meets pop. I write more country because I have my guitar. But yeah, mostly that!

DR: So how’d you get started writing music?

ML: I started writing seriously in high school. But I had written my first song when I was 8 – it was about a star. But high school is when I started getting serious about it.

DR:  So are you from Nashville?

ML: No, Delaware actually! The first time I came to Nashville was July to tour Belmont! When I got to Belmont nobody knew where Delaware was. They’re like “Oh, next to Maine?” No! Delaware!

DR: So obviously songwriting brought you to Belmont.

ML: Actually, I’m majoring in Music Business to get that business degree. I wanted to do that anyway to learn that side of things.

DR: Nice. So how did you get hooked up with Sheree?

ML: It’s a funny story. My grandfather knows Pat Kelley – he owns a car dealership in Vermont, and he’s also a songwriter. My grandfather showed him my YouTube channel and Pat knows Sheree and so I emailed her and found out about GSC.

DR: Are you working on any projects right now?

ML: I’ve mostly been songwriting – I have my own YouTube channel where I do some of my own originals. But right now I’m writing for other people until I figure out what I want to do as an artist!

DR: That’s smart! What are some songs you wish you’d written?

ML: I really like “The More Boys I Meet” – I think it’s really clever. And do you know the song “Here” by Alessia Cara – it’s so good.

DR: Who are your musical influences?

ML: Her, honestly – Alessia Cara. She’s amazing. That song came out when I first started writing seriously. So I’ve been following her vibe. And actually Taylor Swift, too – when she tells stories! I especially like “Mine” and “Speak Now.”

DR: How are you liking Nashville?

ML: I love it! It’s been amazing! I actually don’t want to leave for the summer – but I have to. I’ll be back!!

DR: So what else are you doing besides writing and going to class?

ML: The most recent thing I’ve been doing is singing on demos. I do a lot of work with Bob Kropp and Pam Lack – they’ve been great and taken me under their wing a little bit! They’re both great songwriters, too, and have really helped me develop my sound. They’ve given me the opportunity to work regularly in a studio and have introduced me to many fellow GSC members and artists! They’re honestly like my parental figures while I’m here in Nashville!

DR: Well, thanks for spending some time with us and answering our questions!

ML: Thanks!

 

Frank Brown Songwriters Contest Winners Named

Frank Brown Festival LogoGSC was a proud sponsor and facilitator for the Frank Brown Songwriter Festival Song Contest!

These songs were reviewed by industry professionals for excellence and some amazing songs were submitted.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners and the Honorable Mentions (songs that either had high scores, a high level of artistic merit or were considered to show exceptional promise)! Check out these talented songwriters and their songs!

 

 

 

Top Ten

  1. Diann Hammer: All I Know
  2. Bonnie Warren: Paint the Grey Away
  3. Diana Kelley: A Woman’s Heart
  4. Mark Stuart: Remote Control
  5. Anne Sterry: If I Had Loved You More
  6. David Snowden: Nothin’ You Do is Gonna Make Me Cry
  7. Chad Hamilton: Best Mistake
  8. Debbie Pascarella: The Fire I Can’t Put Out
  9. Jayne Sachs: You Key Still Works
  10. Ty Greiner: Bring on the Rain

Honorable Mentions

  • Debbie Pascarella: Tryin’ Not To Die
  • David Snowden: A Whole Lot Farther
  • Cayd Greiner: Loved For Being You 
  • Toni Wortherly: In the Hallway
  • Kristie Gondzar: Sugar Cube
  • Diann Hammer: Bottle or the Bible
  • Michael Rhodes: Good to You

For those of you who are entering song contests nationwide, you may be aware that GSC members continue to WIN or PLACE in these contests.  Our GSC team is  very proud of your recognition.

GSC is only a facilitator for this event.  The GSC staff does not take place in any of the judging.  We say that because GSC members have 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in this contest! As you can imagine we are thrilled.

Interview with Songwriter, Lexi Peto

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Lexi Peto

Dan Reifsnyder: So tell me how you got started in music!

Lexi Peto: I started in music very young – my dad taught me to play guitar at age seven, and my mom was a huge influence on my musicality. She exposed me to everything from the Chili Peppers to Mariah Carey. Collective Soul was a huge influence on me. Then my step dad entered my life and he introduced me to Rascal Flatts and I fell in love with country music. Even though I had kind of fiddled around with it before, I started taking songwriting really seriously at age twelve. I started keeping a song journal and playing open mics in the eighth grade and my mom was really supportive of it. When I found out about Nashville I was like “Wow, I’ve got to get there!” Then, unfortunately my mom passed away when I was fourteen. It was a really difficult time for my family, but I have really been blessed through my faith – I’m very strong in my faith – and my mom’s passing steered me even more towards music. The Lord took that hardship and made that into something beautiful. My dad and my step dad became best friends, and I told them that I wanted to go to Nashville. So they actually brought me here together! I was here for two years before enrolling at Belmont. I miss my mom every day but my dad and my stepdad have taken on raising me up in this industry together.

DR: What was the first thing you did when you came to town?

LP: I just wanted to play! I looked up all the places and went to every open mic I could! I did the Bluebird – way back before they did the call in system and you had to get tickets! It was part of the experience…and here I am!

DR: Are you working on any projects right now?

LP: I have a couple albums out, which are up on iTunes and Spotify, and my goal before graduation is a pub deal! I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I’m gonna aim for it. Just writing the best songs I can and spreading the love of the Lord. I’m thinking of releasing a single sometime soon too.

DR: How would you describe your musical style?

LP: I consider myself an artist/writer. Although I started out in pop country, I’ve lately felt called to be more in the CCM field. My stuff is definitely more lyric driven too. I not only write for myself, but write for other artists – pop, country, and Christian, and any combination of the three! I describe myself as Country-Pop-Christian. I incorporate Christian values into my music, but with Country Pop. It’s kind of my own thing!

DR: Interesting! So what are some songs you wish you had written?

LP: Oh, right off the bat would be “The House That Built Me”. That song just kills me! I actually got to meet Tom Douglas and shake his hand, which was such an honor! He really knows the craft, and I really respect that. So obviously that song. I love Collective Soul – my ultimate favorite is “Needs”. I wish I’d written that. “Drive Your Truck”…”I Hope You Dance”. My mom sang me to sleep with the song “Butterfly” by Mariah Carey, so I love that one too. I love anything by Bethel and Hillsong!

DR: So how are you liking Belmont?       

LP: I love it! I can’t speak more highly of the songwriting program! It’s so tight knit! It’s almost like a little community within a community. We all support each other.

DR: How did you hear about GSC?

LP: Well, actually I’m a new member to GSC. Chad Hamilton, my producer, has been trying to get me to get involved for a long time. Now that I joined I’m like “Why didn’t I do this sooner!?” I’m so glad to be a part of it. I’ve done a mentoring session with Sheree and she is just a sweetheart! She’s such a strong supporter.

DR: I agree. She’s such a strong supporter of songwriters…I don’t know anybody that works as hard as she does! Well…I think that’s all the time we have, but I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!

LP: Thanks!

 

Interview with Songwriter, Ted Swormstedt

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Tedd Swormstedt

Dan Reifsnyder: Tell us about yourself as an artist and writer.

Tedd Swormstedt: I am a songwriter pure and simple, not an artist in the traditional sense. I love the act of writing a song that will touch someone and get a reaction.

DR: What got you into music?

TS: Very good question because no one in my family is musical. I remember lying in my bed at night listening to my father play Johnny Cash on the big stereo console in our living room and the sound would come through the floor. I guess that is when I knew I wanted to play guitar. I got my first guitar when I was 10 years old – a rental at that because my parents didn’t think I would stick with it. And I started to write songs, but they were not good ones at all. In high school I was in a band and we played all the dances, then in college I did the coffee house thing. Then I had to get a real job and I took some time off from writing. I gravitated to country music because it is pure and authentic and you don’t need all the accessories to get the meaning across.

DR: Who are your musical influences?

TS: That is a difficult question because there are many from Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones, and Allman Brothers to Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

DR: How did you get hooked up with GSC?

TS: I had gotten to that point where I wanted to get more serious about writing songs and how to pitch them to win. I asked the question in an online forum and Jayne Sachs said join GSC, Sheree is a great mentor, teacher and works hard for songwriters.

DR: Jayne is great! What do you feel is different about GSC?

TS: The personal touch and attention that Sheree is able to give everyone. The incredible connections that Sheree has and is able to give her members that put you face-to-face with publishers that make it happen. You have to have the songs and Sheree and her team help you learn the craft. To this day I don’t know how she does it all, but she has such passion for the business of songwriting, her members and seeing us grow and taking the talent we have to the next level.

DR: What are some songs you wish you had written?

TS: Dan that is another hard question – so here are a few “When I Get Where I’m Going”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, and “Humble and Kind”

DR: Good choices! What are some of your goals right now?

TS: I am working on setting up and doing more co-writes in Nashville and with other GSC members based on the contacts that I’ve made through GSC, and building my song catalog and pitching as often as I possibly can.

DR: What drives you to write songs?

TS: I love the process of writing although sometimes it can be frustrating and painful, but I love the idea of being able to say something and touch someone with a message that they can relate to.

DR: As a songwriter what is the most powerful thing that you’ve learned?

TS: Songs can come from anywhere always be open and always remember that your best song is yet to come.

Interview with Songwriter, Chad Hamilton

by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter

Chad HamiltonDan Reifsnyder:  Tell us about yourself as an artist and writer.
 
Chad Hamilton: I definitely consider myself a writer first and foremost and then a producer–but not an artist. Don’t get me wrong, I love to ham it up in the spotlight, and I can carry a tune with the help of a bucket, but at this point in my life and with my commitments, it’s just not practical to pursue. Plus, having worked with artists, I can truly appreciate the title “recording artist.” Whenever I have a song I’m excited about, I can’t wait to replace my demo vocal with that of a true artist! I do most of my writing with artists. I find it very exciting to try to help them deliver something that resonates with who they are as an artist and what messages they want to send. Also, being close to the artist makes it more likely that I’ll get to hear one of my creations released to the world by someone who’s really putting his/her heart into the performance.

When I’m not in Nashville, which I am blessed to have a situation that allows me to visit every other month, I write almost 100% of the time over the Internet.  Technology is wonderful for allowing me to regularly connect creatively with co-writers from Nashville and various places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Oklahoma – this year I hope to write with someone from another country! And I will write ANYTHING. In fact, I love to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. I write mostly country and pop, but I would love to do some hip hop and EDM – that’s another goal for 2018. My true ambition is to be the really cool guy that so many artists and writers want to have in the room with them. I want to watch my friends reach their goals and be successful, and if possible, play a role in helping them.

DR: Those are some pretty cool goals!  What got you into music in the first place?

CH: I really think it was my dad. There was always music in the house. He had a big component stereo. Turntable, tape deck, reel-to-reel, tuner, EQ . . . eventually a CD player. I feel like so frequently on the weekends, there would be music playing throughout the house – he put speakers in three different rooms. I learned to LOVE the sound of vinyl.  In fact, he never let my brother or I buy a cassette tape – we had to buy records and then he would record them onto cassette for us as a portable copy. It’s fun to see vinyl make a comeback, because I have a ton of it, and memories to boot.  I can still feel the light green shag carpet in the living room where I would smell the vinyl as I pulled it out and dropped a needle on it, and I can still see myself reading the sleeve from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was my older brother’s first record. My mother and father, together, had at least a hundred albums from the 60s through the 80s, including a boatload of 45s.

But that living room carpet I mentioned was more important to my story. Occasionally, the four of us would gather in the living room, which was not a place a spent I a lot of time since it was “off limits” unless there was company or we were gathering there as a family. And no, there wasn’t plastic on the sofa – Mom just didn’t want her boys in there wrecking the place! Anyway, my father had and still has a 1960s or 1970s Martin guitar and a knack for playing folk songs.  He’d sing to us – I specifically remember Puff the Magic Dragon being a favorite of mine as well as The Marvelous Toy. Later in life, I realized he wasn’t a virtuoso by any means, but as a kid, I thought he was great and those moments being together as a family were truly magical – much better than watching TV or staring at cell phones. From there I made a journey from country music to 80s pop, 80s rock, hip hop, classic rock, club, alternative rock, folk and Americana, orchestral and classical, jazz, hardcore rock and metal, and back to country and pop. I loved it all and still do.

DR: So who would you say are your musical influences?

CH: I really don’t know how to answer this, based on my broad exposure. I know when I was about five years old, I had a Care Bears tape deck, and I picked two records from my Uncle Bob’s collection – he’s my dad’s brother. I’m not sure what prompted it, but I can still vaguely see myself sorting through a stack of vinyl and finding a cover with a guy and a casino table. You got it – Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. Who says you can’t judge a book, or album, by its cover?! I brought home two Kenny Rogers records and my father copied them onto cassette for me and I played it nonstop, for hours at a time. I don’t think any of my music sounds like those records, but I guess it’s a fun story. Then I went through that journey of genres I mentioned before until Shania Twain caught my ear, and I guess my eye, too, if I’m being completely honest, and hooked me into country music. From there MANY songs and artists really captured my heart with their powerful emotions, honesty, and stories, and that’s definitely what inspired me to be a songwriter and learn to tell my stories and share my emotions in a magical 3-minute melody. But as far as influences go, it’s tough. I mean, I had a Jimi Hendrix obsession, but I could never really play like him, and I don’t think I hear any Purple Haze in the songs I’m writing. I would love for someone to tell me what influences they hear in my songs and my productions, because as far as I’m concerned, the question more easily answered is, “who aren’t my musical influences?”

DR: Nice. Well, your tastes sound pretty eclectic. How did you get hooked up with GSC?

CH: The Cincinnati-Dayton NSAI Chapters in Ohio meet every week. They really are an awesome, active group. After taking about a ten year break from writing, for whatever reason, maybe it was my divorce or new perspectives on life, but I decided it was time to truly pursue excellence as a songwriter and do it in a way that would keep me at it for the rest of my life. That group really gave me a home every week and I started rebuilding contacts and making friends there. Jim Melko, one of the coordinators, is a SESAC member, and he contacted SESAC and recommended they meet with me. Unfortunately, SESAC was not interested in an out-of-towner, which is very understandable, but they were very gracious and helpful and recommended I meet Sheree’ Spoltore’. I actually met Sheree’ in the SESAC lobby, and as they say, when one door closes another opens.

DR: It definitely seems to happen that way! What do you feel is different about GSC?

CH: There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you aren’t making progress toward your goals, and GSC truly has enabled me to make that progress and more importantly really appreciate it. It’s been one of the most inspiring and encouraging and empowering relationships for me. I look back when I had just moved to Nashville after college and think about the reasons I gave up the dream and denied myself for many years the creative time I needed, and I think it had to do with direction. I knew where I was and where my songs were, and I knew I had to grow, but while there were plenty of industry folks willing to give feedback or offer knowledge, there was no one helping me make those tactical decisions, like, OK what should I do right now, and tomorrow and next month? Sheree’ has figured out a formula that truly allows each GSC member to understand his or her personal journey and she helps teach, encourage, and equip us along the way.  It’s like having a life coach or a manager – there are more than several great organizations and programs that give value to a developing writer or artist, but I don’t know any that can give the personalized guidance that Sheree’ and GSC provides. I don’t make a living on my music, can’t afford to do it full time, and haven’t reached any of my BIG goals, yet, but I still love waking up early every morning to write or produce or do the administrative work, and I don’t have to lie when I say, “I’m living the dream,” because I believe it – I owe a lot of that to GSC.

DR: Well said, Chad! Considering how broad your tastes are, this might be a big question, but what are some songs you wish you’d written?

CH: I try to keep up with a list of these and it’s over 100 long now! Some include:Letter to Me– Brad Paisley – I remember I was in my shop and just stopped in my tracks when that song hit me. The Secret to Life– a lesser known Faith Hill cut, that song helped me during a very dark time in my life. Don’t Blink, There Goes My Life– Kenny Chesney. Fifteen– Taylor Swift. Austin– Blake Shelton. Riding With Private Malone– David Ball. Back of the Bottom Drawer– Chely Wright. All of those I admire for their creative delivery, story, and/or emotion. Chandelier– Sia for it’s ridiculous melody and lesser appreciated serious message. I Want It That Way– Backstreet Boys because I wanted to be in a boy band, and how cool would it be to have millions of people around the world sing your super catchy infectious song? All I Want For Christmas is You– Mariah Carey – it’s a legacy, it’s a gravy train, and it’s for my favorite time of year. How awesome would it be to write a song that maybe your grandchildren would listen to during Christmas? Some of those Christmas classics have persisted many decades, which is really cool.

DR: That would be pretty awesome to have a legacy cut like that.  Tell us about some of your recent successes!

CH: Early in 2017, I had the honor of working with a talented artist and writer, and truly special young woman, Lexi Peto, who is currently a freshman at Belmont in their songwriting program. I produced her EP and co-wrote three songs with her – I also started a label and took care of the release. It’s hard to articulate how fun, how much of a learning experience, and what great satisfaction came from that process. Another talented young woman, Jordyn Kenzie, who is a junior in an arts high school in Pennsylvania, recently was in Nashville and cut two songs that I co-wrote with her. I’m anticipating them to be released sometime early this year. I haven’t even heard them yet – I’m so excited!

DR: So I noticed you’re a parent. How has that changed your writing, if at all?

CH: Honestly, I haven’t noticed my perspectives changing much, per se, but I’ve included my daughter in my journey, even since she was an infant, and she’s not even three now. It’s funny because she’s known for most of her life that daddy goes to Nashville a lot, but I know she has no concept of what or where Nashville is, but she’ll help me get ready! Anyway, Monday through Friday, she joins me in my studio early in the morning before I commute to Cincinnati, and whether she’s making a ruckus pounding on her drums while I’m trying to record a work tape, emptying a box of tissues and ripping them up all over the floor while I’m laying down a demo track, or sitting on my lap singing with me – I cherish every minute of it. I don’t know how important music will be in her life, but I hope the moments we spend together are as magical for her as they are for me. She’s starting to sing some of my songs when I’m working on them, and that’s just the most exciting feeling for me!

DR: That’s really cool.  I appreciate you taking the time to talk, Chad!

CH: Thanks!

 

2018 Member Success Stories Continued

More Cuts, Pub Deals, Artist Deals, Song Contracts and More

Our GSC members are working with everything they have inside to create success. They are working when they don’t “feel” like it. They are showing up and pitching their songs even when they are tired of being turned down. And just when some may be thinking that nothing will ever happen–BOOM! They get a cut, a call, or a contract! Please reach out to each GSC member and congratulate them on their success! It would mean so much to each of them to hear from you! We announced a few GSC member successes in January and now here are some more great reports that have come in over the past few weeks!

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