Johnnie Mikel

Johnnie Mikel

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Johnnie Mikel, Singer/Songwriter/Artist

Newcomer Johnnie Mikel may be only 18 years old, but already he’s attracting an enviable amount of attention in music circles. With his first EP Let Love Reign just released and an opening gig for the Charlie Daniels Band to his credit, you can’t blame the teenager for feeling like he’s on top of the world, if not yet the country charts.

Growing up in his hometown of Bowling Green, KY, Johnnie was a shy, creative kid who loved music, writing, and spending time on his family’s farm just outside town. When he was 11, his family relocated to New York City so Johnnie’s sister could pursue an acting career. While there, Johnnie often accompanied her to casting calls and was frequently asked to audition, but shied away from the spotlight, preferring instead to stay behind the scenes. He started writing a personal blog in which he talked about seeing the world through what he calls “a new set of eyes.” The site attracted thousands of viewers, convincing Johnnie that he had a talent for connecting with audiences. “My blog shared stories of hope and positivity,” he says now. “It really showed me how much I valued telling stories and capturing my everyday life in words. I feel like I was training myself to write songs long before I knew it.”

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GSC Interview with Bruce Miller

Bruce MillerGSC Interview with Bruce Miller

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder:  Hey, Bruce! Thanks for talking today. So how long have you been evaluating songs?

Bruce Miller:  That’s a good question! I have to go back and look…I think It’s been about 7 or 8 years. I started at NSAI working with Sheree when she was there. I think they had like a 6 month backlog of songs to evaluate, and I got them caught up in like a month or something ridiculous like that. I had never done evaluations before, but I had taught songwriting and studied songwriting. And I had been writing for 25 or 30 years…more than that, really. I had studied songwriting a lot and I discovered that I was really good at song evaluations and I really liked doing it. I think I figured out that when I was at NSAI, I evaluated something like 14,000 songs – including contests – and I was their most requested evaluator. So I mentored writers on about 14,000 songs and I really enjoyed doing it. So that’s kind of the history of it.

DR: What would you say is the #1 thing that you constantly come across?

BM: Writers at different levels make different mistakes. I’d say the #1 thing that developing writers make is that they assume the listener knows what the story is about. They don’t give enough detail. They don’t give enough who, what, when, why, and where and the listener is lost. It’s a very common thing. Even professional writers I work with can sometimes forget that, and we have to go “Wait a minute…why does nobody understand this?” I think Jason Blume said something great one time. Someone asked him to explain the song to them, and he said “Unfortunately, songs just don’t come with instruction sheets.” So that’s probably one of the main things. And learning how to find a great hook is another thing, and making it pay off emotionally.

DR: Tell me a bit about your evaluation process.

BM:  I evaluate very organically. When I listen, it’s almost like I’m outside of myself, observing what I’m listening to. So if I’m not really engaged in the song, if I’m not feeling it, I need to find out why I’m not emotionally engaged by the song. And to me, that’s one of the most important things. Even if the song isn’t crafted well, if it doesn’t have the emotional content to it, it’s not doing its job. And each song has a job. I try to work with people to figure out what the job of each song is, and how to make sure that song is actually fulfilling what it’s supposed to do. As writers, we decide what that job is. There’s a few techniques I used to help people, like a checklist they can look at to see if the song is doing what they want it to do. In a vacuum it’s hard to know whether it’s doing its job, and if you know the right questions to ask, you can have a little more of a sense of what you’re writing. I tell people a song should move you in one of four ways: It should move your body, or your heart, or spiritually, or intellectually. If you get all four of those going at once, you’ve got a song that will live on forever.

DR:  Good answer.

BM: (laughs) Long answer. And you  know, people don’t realize how much of songwriting has to do with the human brain, and patterns. That’s how the brain really works, and how it’s really comfortable. When our brains can recognize a pattern quickly, it makes us feel good – the brain is really comfortable with that. That’s why we get anxious when things change. If you’ve ever moved, the first several months, you feel like you’re not in your body as much. You don’t know where the bathroom lightswitch is. And then finally you get acclimated to that and you become comfortable again. Part of being a commercial writer is about making people feel comfortable in a certain way. Like an old sweater. But we also crave variety, which is a paradox – we want variety in our patterns. We want the patterns, but we also want something new. I like to say we need something shiny. Songs that are memorable have something shiny in them that you haven’t seen before.

DR: Great thoughts. What are some songs you wish you’d written?

BM: I wish I had written “Ghost in this House”. I think it’s one of the most perfectly crafted songs that I’ve ever heard. I mean, I haven’t heard every song written, you know. But Alison Krauss does the best version of it – her voice captures so much of the emotion of that song. That’s one of my top ten. “The Song Remembers When” is another one. Both written by Hugh Prestwood.  I’m a huge fan of almost all the Beatles’ catalogue, melodically. I think their melodies are just unsurpassed in the 50 years since they’ve been around. It’s hard to find melodies that touch their stuff. I’m a big fan of the Eagles, and that whole cadre of songwriters from the 70’s – country rock writers. JD Souther, Glenn Frye, Don Henley, Don Felder. Linda Ronstadt wasn’t a writer, but she picked great material to record. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And my all-time favorite writer/artist is Joni Mitchell. I’ve followed her music and her career pretty much since the beginning. I’ve just watched how she progressed and developed as a lyricist. It’s kind of like “learn everything you need to know about songwriting, and then throw it out the window”. She really knew the importance of a hook, and returning musical themes that are memorable.

DR: Let’s talk for a minute about your background. What got you into songwriting?

BM: Well, I’d been playing guitar since I was 13 and joined my first band when I was 14. I was always in bands, up until the time I was 40. When I went to college, I actually moved down to Los Angeles to be in an original project – we were being produced by Andy Johns who was Glyn John’s brother – he engineered Zeppelin and the Who. He was a big time British engineer. I moved to L.A. and I started doing club work as a professional guitarist and singer. I had written maybe 4 or 5 songs in high school. I later worked with Paul McCartney and Kenny Loggins. I was Laura Brannigan’s lead guitar player for several years – that was probably my longest gig. After being in several original bands, none of which I did the writing in,  I got tired of just being the guitar player. I felt like I had something to say, and I wanted to say it. I had a friend in Nashville who was a publisher, and he agreed to listen to my songs – I thought I knew how to write, and I thought I was writing country. You remember the sound tapes made when they were fast forwarded? (imitates the sound) That was the sound of my meeting. After that, I started taking songwriting lessons. I got involved with a songwriting organization out in L.A.  called NAS. I went to every meeting. I saw what the business was about, and just really got an education. I started writing and figuring it out – my songs were getting better. I started commuting to Nashville and went to Song Camp – that was a religious experience. Rick Beresford, Jon Ims, Don Henry, James Dean Hicks, Hugh Prestwood and Angela Kaset were teaching.

DR: They’re great.

BM: Yeah. I learned a lot. So that’s kind of my progression from wanting to do it, to learning how to do it, to doing it and eventually moving to Nashville. I love what I do. I love this part of it – being a teacher and mentoring people. Because I know how hard it is. I also love songs and songwriting, and being a songwriting mentor is really, really exciting for me. I get to witness this process with someone and get to help them find their legs as songwriters and get good at it.

DR:  Awesome. Well, do you have any parting thoughts?

BM: Yeah. I think what’s really important for people to understand is that they need to have an order of business they need to take care of in order to be successful. And the first thing they need to do is get their songwriting together. I don’t care how much networking you do, how much social media you do, I don’t care about any of that stuff. If your song is not competitive with what is happening within the market you’re in, there’s no way you’re gonna go anywhere. The most important thing you should be focusing on is getting your songs competitive. That is job one. Being able to have immediate feedback and have it from someone who isn’t going to make you feel bad, or make you feel like quitting is really, really important. That’s why the evaluation service with Global Songwriters is so crucial. It’s a great deal, and not to toot my own horn, but it’s with someone who can really help them. People complain all the time “Well, I can’t get anyone to help me.” You’ve got it right in front of you – this opportunity to increase your marketability by becoming a better songwriter. And you need good feedback so you can improve. It’s almost exponential how much better you get when you have someone who can nurture you along the way, and you’re working with them consistently. You’re gonna get a great feeling of progression that way.

DR: Thanks for the interview, man!

BM: You’re welcome! Have a good one!

 

 

Interview with Ree Boado

Ree BaodoGSC Interview with Ree Boado

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: Great to meet you, Ree! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. What got you into songwriting?

Ree Boado: Well, my journey into songwriting is a little different from most songwriters I’ve known. I was always passionate about lyrics and singing, though I didn’t grow up in a very musical family and wasn’t surrounded much by musical people. Music was always calling to me though. Some of my earliest and best memories involve music. I can remember being 8 years old and sitting behind the bushes in my front yard, reading and memorizing lyrics. I occasionally wrote bits of poetry and wrote some short stories that won some contests as a kid, but I never actually thought I could write a song since I didn’t play instruments at that time. And then one day in my early 20’s, I was in the shower and several lyrics and a melody line just came to me. That turned into my first song, which I later found piano chords for, thanks to a friend. After that small victory, then learning to play piano and guitar, songs have been flowing ever since. I guess the music was in there all along, just waiting for the right time to come out!

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?
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Interview with Joe Piasecki

Joe PiaseckiGSC Interview with Joe Piasecki

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: Tell me about how you got into songwriting.

Joe Piasecki: In 2001, I got a comedy song signed to Goodnight Kiss Music in L.A. In 2002 through GKM – I met #1 hit artist Alan O’ Day who sang “Undercover Angel”. We became friends through the years and in 2008, he cut my song “Hello Mom” in Nashville for his CD “I Hear Voices”. A wonderful man, may he rest in peace. I have co-written four songs with Alan’s good friend, and my mentor, Denny Martin, who is a fantastic Nashville producer and songwriter.

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

JP: Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam. Currently, I just found Beth Nielsen Chapman online and her thoughts about the initial creative process are incredible.

DR: I agree! She’s very sweet, too. What made you want to join GSC?

JP: I met Sheree briefly at NSAI in 2008 and her enthusiasm was inspiring.
When I saw she had her own business, I thought it was cool and inexpensive.

DR: What do you feel is different about GSC?

JP: Sheree! She should be a motivational speaker and travel the globe like Tony Robbins or something! I love the real world hook-ups she has provided me with. People I never would have met except through her. I currently have a very controversial song called “Think About It” that I’m going to pitch that was demoed as a result of Sheree finding me the perfect match for the song. She doesn’t really critique–she encourages. I hate when a song service will actually critique 1 or 2 syllables.

DR: Couldn’t agree more. I always walk away feeling inspired after a session with her – she’s a powerhouse of positive energy! What are some songs you wish you’d written?

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Ruben Estevez Gets Bucky Covington Single

Ruben Estevez

GSC Member, Ruben Estevez, gets Bucky Covington’s NEW SINGLE,
“I Feel Ya”

GSC has been very honored to represent Ruben Estevez to the music industry for the past nearly three years.  Most recently Ruben was a GSC FEATURED writer at our quarterly GSC PLAYS4U! Event at The Listening Room.  We have played Ruben’s song, “I Feel Ya,” three times for publishers!  We are thrilled to know that we were on the right track with this song as it is now Bucky Covington’s single! Click here  (link to interview)  to learn more about this amazing writer and his journey to a major cut!  Provided by:  GSC Reporter Daniel Reifsnyder.  

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Samantha Meyer

Samantha Meyer

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Samantha Meyer, Singer/Songwriter

Samantha describes herself as your typical teenage girl who is crazy about horses, has a passionate dislike for anything with eight legs, and has never outgrown her fear of the dark. But, there is one thing that she is determined to share with others and that is her love of music. She is a highly motivated, self-driven, aspiring country music artist with a lifelong passion for writing songs that she hopes will someday captivate the world in a catchy, tapping of the foot sort of fashion.

Stephen Rew

Stephen Rew

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Stephen Rew, Singer/Songwriter

Stephen Rew had an amazing first year as a singer/songwriter and recording artist. After being asked to sing “Another Hero is Headed Home” at the 2013 Inspirational Country Music Awards concert, he released the song to Christian Country/Gospel stations in February 2014. It climbed to #21 on the Power Source chart and Stephen was nominated as a Top 10 New Artist of the Year in July. He was the speaker/entertainer for the 2014 ICM Membership Breakfast last November. In August he released his second song to radio (“The Day the Thunder Called My Name”) and it is currently at #14 on the Inspirational Country Chart. Stephen put out a debut EP called “Everyday Heroes” on November.

He just released a third song to radio called “It’s About to Rain” — a foot-stomping tune about redemption and grace. The lyrics use a tongue twisting rhyme scheme to describe two modern day parables and a powerful Old Testament story that illustrate God’s eternal love. The Biblical story is Elijah’s showdown against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18). Elijah called upon the Lord to send rain after severe famine had destroyed the land. The Lord sent the rain in such a dramatic way that no one could doubt His power and His love as He called his children back home.

Ronnie Jones

Ronnie Jones

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Ronnie Jones, Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist

Ronnie Jones hails from Smithfield, Virginia, the ham capital of the world. The son of musically talented parents, he began playing guitar at an early age. He began his journey of songwriting while, in the seventh grade as an English assignment, he wrote lyrics to the Dennis Coffey instrumental “Sad Angel”. This began a love of songwriting which continues to this day.

Ronnie’s early writings were influenced by groups such as America, the Eagles, the Beatles, and songwriters such as Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, and James Taylor. He began playing his songs in venues in the Hampton Roads area, and while performing, he met his wife Sharon. They have now been married over thirty years, God having blessed them with two daughters and three grandchildren.

Not long after marriage, Ronnie and his wife returned to the faith they had professed in Jesus Christ. It was not long till the focus of his writing shifted to Christ honoring songs. He began to use the talents that God had given him in his home church and local churches in and around Smithfield. His desire is to honor the Lord with the musical gifts he has been given and share them wherever and however he is privileged to do so.

Ronnie is a proud member of the Gospel Music Association, Global Songwriters Connection, and a former workshop coordinator for NSAI. He has recorded a CD entitled “Revive Our Land”. One of the songs on this project, “I Have Assurance”, has been recorded by the gospel group New Light. “Candles In The Night”, another song on the CD, has been played at many Relay for Life ceremonies on the East Coast. He is currently working on another CD with Tate Music Group, which should be finished later this year.

Alan Black

Alan Black

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Alan Black, Songwriter

As a lyricist my musical influences have been and are eclectic. In growing up my musical influences have been derived from all different genres of music. I began writing lyrics and collaborating on projects beginning in 2004..
As a lyricist I have been a contributing writer as a lyricist on the following projects:

“God’s Living Water” a Gospel project via Selah Sound Inc.

“No Ring No Fling” a Hip-Hop project via Selah Sound Inc.

“Got to Be Strong” is an R&B project that I also was a lyricist on as well via Selah Sound Inc. The title track from this project “Got to Be Strong” I am honored to say hit #1 on the American Idol Underground World Wide R&B charts for the week of February 20, 2008.

In 2009 the song “Through It All” a gospel song on which I was the lyricist was selected to be a part of the Reflections Management Company and Upper Room 3 Productions compilation “Care Packages for Our Troops.” This project helped to raise money for Operation Door to Door, which provided care packages to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Turning Point,” a song from the Got to Be Strong project was featured as a part of the song track for the stage performance “Firstborn,” a play that ran in San Francisco in April of 2010 and also August of 2010.

In the summer of 2014 the song “Angel Divine” on which I was the lyricist was featured as a part of a compilation project via the record label Flaccid Rock.

Music is a deep rooted love for me. My dreams and passions are to continue to reach out to others for the opportunity to collaborate and create, knowing that it is about being a part of a team that works together to bring a song to life.

Grant June

Grant June

Global Songwriters Member Spotlight

Grant June, Songwriter/Guitarist

“But there’s this faith in this unimaginable love. It put me here, it put this song in my heart”
– First Things First

Grant June has three basic goals: 1) Grow in his faith and learn to trust God. 2) Be the best husband and father he can be. 3) Write great songs.

As a guitarist and songwriter for the Rock/Powerpop group 89 Mojo, Grant has released 5 albums, two Christmas singles, and a Taco Bell jingle that won the Judge’s Favorite honor. He’s also played about 1,000 gigs.

With his solo release “Free For The Giving”, however, Grant jumped out of the shell of being a secular songwriter and guitarist. Besides handling all the vocals, guitars and bass on the album, he also pushed his lyrical boundaries by diving deep into matters of faith, love, life and death. While speaking of both the joys and struggles of the Christian heart, Grant was well aware of the need to keep it honest, yet non-preachy. The result was a collection of songs that were heartfelt and accessible to both “believers” as well as those still searching.

While in the process of recording these new songs, Grant’s father passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Trying to make sense of his dad’s death forced him to reflect on his own life and the short time we all have on Earth. This lead to the “purpose” of the future album: Give it away for free, and donate the money that would have gone towards purchasing it to charity instead. Research for cancer, autism, or cystic fibrosis. Help for the local food pantry or homeless shelter. The list of worthy causes is endless. “Free For The Giving” became both a title and purpose for the album, as well as Grant’s new ministry.

Grant is currently writing and recording more material, with plans to pitch them to publishers and find an outlet where his music may connect with others’ hearts, and more importantly, God’s unconditional love and grace.

“I’m just longing for a pure heart, reflected in action and voice”
– The Other 167