by Dan Reifsnyder, GSC Reporter
Dan Reifsnyder: Hey, Ceri! Thanks for sitting down with us today. How did you get into songwriting?
Ceri Earle: My mom was a pianist and music teacher so I took piano and violin lessons from about 8. I’ve landed on the lyrical side of the fence though, and although I don’t really play anymore all that classical training helps with that a lot.
I kind of fell in love with Country music around 2000 and as a writer considered it the most succinct storytelling out there. One day I was running and had an idea for a song title, so I Googled how to write a song. That first one took me a couple weeks to write and it was at best a rhyming story. Still, I got it demoed – pretty funny story and too long for here, but suffice it to say it got me to the next song, and the next etc.
DR: Interesting! Who are some of your musical influences?
CE: I always wondered if I’d ever be asked this and what I’d say. Not being an actual musician I don’t consciously draw on anything or anyone musically, but when it comes to Country there’s no way I don’t have the 2000s in my head because they’re who I ‘grew up’ with: Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney (that was my first country concert) Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Martina McBride. But I was/am also into Top 40 pop like Maroon 5 and Justin Timberlake, even Brittney Spears years ago, so you’re gonna get a mix if you write with me.
DR: That’s a great mix. What are some songs you wish you’d written?
CE: Off the top of my head, I Can’t Make You Love Me – obviously. Write This Down – this was the song that sucked me into Country so maybe I’m glad I didn’t haha. Too Much Fun – not sure I wish I wrote it but I love it, and it’s really true. I Don’t Know About You – there’s something off-the-charts clever and sincere and girl-friendly about this song and I’m crazy about the ‘Nashville twist’ on the hook. I heard it more than a year ago but it just went number 1 in the fall – deservedly so in my opinion. I’m a Shane McAnally fan, so anything he’s written on gets my well-deserved envy.
DR: I love the ‘Nashville twist’ too. Great lyrics in those! How did you get connected with GSC?
CE: Carrie Cunningham was the first person I heard mention it and it was a text convo with Dave Quirk (whom I met through her too) that got me to sign up. Then I met Sheree and she was so amazingly encouraging and helpful the rest is becoming history.
DR: She is definitely an encourager! Now you’ve had some cuts…what has been your most exciting one?
CE: Gosh is there anything more exciting than the first? I’ve had a bunch of indie cuts but writing an album with a 16-year-old who ended up moving to Nashville was an incredible experience. Every cut is a compliment and of course I want everyone to get noticed because I so believe in the artists I get to write with.
DR: I understand you’re an editor by profession. How has that informed your writing process?
CE: Lord have mercy, it took a while to learn to shut down that pesky skillset but I had to because the editor doesn’t let the creator create. That being said, it does help to let it peek through the door in a write now and then to keep the plot, or the story, or the flow in line, make sure that tenses and pronouns are consistent, and with all the creativity going on, make sure the lyric makes sense during the write rather than a week later when you then have to get the team back together or write emails etc. I think my co-writers appreciate that as much as I appreciate that they can do chord progressions, melodies and strum patterns. They all have my permission to shut me down when I start over-thinking!
DR: I had similar issues…the critical editor has a place in writing the song, just not necessarily during creative moments! Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
CE: I have a few things on the burner that are other artist projects that I’m not really at liberty to mention. Mostly I just love coming into town and writing and meeting with those who’ve been open to work with me on this crazy ride. Sheree is just amazing and I’m so grateful to her.
DR: Great. Any closing thoughts?
CE: Yeah I think it’s important to mention that I, like everyone, wouldn’t be here without others. I know this is a GSC newsletter, but NSAI and Songtown have been really important in my world. I met my co-writer Chelsey Satterlee at an NSAI event, and we wrote the song that was the overall winner of the Great American Song Contest last year. That changed my life because the prizes were fantastic and I made the most of them all. Coming on the back of a finalist place in the NSAI song contest (for a different song) was really encouraging to me as ‘just a lyricist’. I’m never gonna be and artist or an amazing singer, and I just started taking guitar a year and a half ago, so I’m incredibly indebted to all my co-writers who repeatedly let me into their lives and their writing rooms. Songwriting has made my life a wonderful place to be and I can’t do it worth a damn without them.
DR: Well said. We definitely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for others. Thanks for talking with us today!
CE: Thanks for talking with me – this was really fun!!