To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.

                      --Aaron Copeland

Songwriter? (Narrative Blog)
By Jason Deere 

Today I wrote back a friend of a friend, a guy named Bob, who had previously sent me a couple of MP3s of some songs he had written and demoed. He wanted my opinion of his songwriting. They actually had some promise but I was perplexed as to what to tell him. "Sure, you've got it. Quit your job, say good-bye to those Sunday dinner's at your grandma's, sell what you don't need and move to Nashville immediately!" were not words that I could even begin to utter. It is a different day then when I moved to town in May of 1994. Record sales were through the roof in 1994, country music was the thing, Garth put a million people into Central Park. There were seemingly countless labels with countless artists making countless records. I had 26 major record label cuts in my first 2 1/2 years here, which today would be impossible...well, nothing is impossible, but you get my drift. It was a different day and people's relationship with music and how they perceived it and received it was a different day indeed. 
It was a good excercise to think through this for me. I wanted to tell Bob the truth as lying is a waste of everyone's time, plus I'd have to deal with guilt, etc, which bums me out. So, here is some of what I told him:

"You should be proud of where you have come with your craft. 
Now, that being said, I would keep doing this because you love to do it, if you truly love to do it. As far as 'doing' something with your music to make a living, well I would run from that thought if you can. NOTE: I am saying whatever I feel because I know well that those who have what it takes (the sickness associated with throwing yourself into a near impossible business for a lifetime of flogging and torture, daily taking some sort of "dream" medicine to survive the pain, climbing a huge mountain of bovine poop to reach a beautiful rose on top, only to find when you get there that your nostrils are so full of poop from the climb that you smell nothing) will make it regardless of what someone says because it is simply what they do. Such people sacrifice everything because there is nothing else. 
Record sales are down 45% this year. The record rack in the largest distributor of records (Wal-Mart) is down to the size of a pool table. It is going fast and not because people are buying them. The disappearance of this thing we have called "CD" is changing how we do business. Major labels are going away or drastically changing how they do business. Indie's are thriving and still struggling. No one can rely on mechanical income (record sales) anymore (the model has always been if an album has a hit song then that hit sells 9-10 other songs as people buy the CDs which makes money for many writers and many publishers). Not in a single's market. Someone downloads one single, no other writers or publishers make diddly. Today, he who gets singles on the radio, or special market opportunities wins and all others flip burgers or give you bad advice in the plumbing section of Home Depot. Publishers can't afford to sign writers without mechanical income. No one is signing anything these days, or it's very rare...only writers who are PLUGGED in. When I moved to town in 1994, large publishers like Warner-Chappell, EMI and Universal Music Publishing had as many as 140 writers. Today they have maybe a dozen veteran, hit writers and likely have not signed writers this year.
All that wrist-slitting to say: Do it because you love it. Love doing it or don't do it. Making music is a beautiful thing. I've always said that once the world is over all that will be lying around outliving the nukes are the alligators, the cock roaches and great songs. They are a journal of us. They testify of life and the way we live it. A pure stream of human communication. Something that draws immediate emotion from others. Sometimes tears, sometimes shouts of joy and often times a fervent "That sucks!", but emotion none-the-less.
Songwriting is like religion. Most people do it in their closets, some people do it in the streets, a few people figure out how to make a fortune out of it, but those who survive it are those who do it from the heart and love it all the way.
Do it your way. Love every verse like a prayer and sing every chorus like your one of a thousand angels and celebrate every song like it's that last thing you'll hear before you give up the ghost. It's beautiful!"

September 5, 2007

Walking in Nashville 
[Narrative Article]
By David Harper

In June 2008, my wife and I packed up a U-haul and moved to Nashville on a wing and a prayer. Most of our friends in rural California thought we were completely crazy. A select few got it and respected the fact that we were following our dream. The economy (or lack thereof) had cost us our business, our home, and it  was pretty much time to start over. Since the kids were grown and we had nothing stopping us, it seemed like a good idea to go where the songwriters and talented folks are.

I had heard (prior to moving) that “Nashville is a fiveyear town”, meaning that it takes five years to establish a career as a songwriter here. I figured, tick tock—might just as well get started. After all, in this economy we could starve anywhere, so let’s roll the dice in Nashville, Tennessee. Worst case scenario: we could sing with our friends in the soup line. 

Oddly, I picked up work as a songwriter here about as fast as I got to town. I had a number to call. Actually, I had lots of numbers. It’s a Southern hospitality thing to say “call me when you get into town.” People who have no intention of ever really seeing you make a lot of statements like this. But they would not be very Southern like if they told you that point blank. So yes, one, and only one, contact came through. Cathy Lemmon at Artist Development Network asked me to come in and see her. She gave me a solid date and time to do so. And I was on time and open-minded when I stepped into her office. 

She told me that she liked my writing very much, and asked me if I would like to write with her clients. I said yes. She said, “Tomorrow’s open at 3PM…if you’d like to get started.” I wrote the time in my brand new, very blank calendar, and thanked her for the opportunity. In booking my first Nashville co-write appointment, I was basically catapulted into an arena where my songs suddenly had to compete with some of the best writers in town. 

It’s been a struggle, to say the least. This town requires huge hustle. If you’re not blessed with a body and face that
makes people drool with desire, it takes big talent and a
monster work ethic to survive here. There are simply too
many hopefuls in line before you, and they’ll snap up your
opportunity in a heartbeat.

So I write songs now. I sit and co-write with young
artists mostly. These people usually have those above mentioned good looks, or, it might be their voices that lure you in, or both. They've earned their shot at stardom with that extra certain something that they’ve got that puts them ahead of the others. Much like American Idol tryouts, if they endear themselves to the right people, they get their

And with that in mind, I am very much a part of our clients’ future. They depend on me to craft a radio readysong for them that will be auditioned hundreds of times long after they leave Nashville and go back where they

          Sarah Hansen Dudley

Stephen Israel, The Times Herald-Record, March 2000

a wonderful singer-songwriter whose warm voice, inviting melodies and tasty acoustic music frame urgent lyrics with a real edge.

Lisa Fairbanks, Rhythm & News Magazine, March 2000

Standouts include fun "Caffeine Mom", touching "James", syncopated "I Am Not A Rock", and the well produced title track.

Barnes & Noble

With her I-can-do -anything lyrics, Sarah D is a musical dynamo. She blends storytelling with vitality.

About the Artist

Sarah D's bell like voice, rich finger style guitar, and full rhodes piano are an inspiration. Sarah D is another in a long line of socially introspective Hudson River Valley musicians. She was classically trained at Indiana University's School of Music and has applied that training to the the world of pop/folk.
Singer songwriter Sarah D has released four CDs over the years, Unfinished BusinessWho Am ICome To The Christ Child, and Illusion Mirage.  She is in the studio working on her fifth project: A Musical Celebration of New Birth.

Sarah D couples the haunting elegance of acoustic guitar with perhaps the best female voice in popular music today.  The rolling arpeggios and the rhythmic strumming of her American finger style guitar is a show all on its own.  Her pure bell like voice resonates in the core of your soul.  Taken together, Sarah D’s melodies, lyrics, guitar and voice, make for an extraordinary concert experience.

Sarah D plays inspirational acoustic music with lyrics that focus on the spiritual aspect of life's sojourn on earth.  She has a repertoire of over two hundred original songs that build a warm atmosphere in any venue.  Her songs help us to remember that "the most important of life's battles are fought in our minds."  Her lyrics have earned her the nickname "Conscience of America."  Her music is said to be "Medicine for the People."

Sarah D's musical talents in performance aren't limited to her original songs. She also entertains  and ministers to audiences with her personal mix of Broadway, Pop, and Standards with either guitar or piano accompaniment.  

Sarah D's strong spiritual roots were forged in the small town of Moses Lake in central Washington State where she grew up the youngest of fourteen children.  The harsh arid scab-lands mixed with the farming community kept her grounded and always cognizant of humanities dependence on the grace of God.  Her reliance on His saving grace and His willingness to lift the burdens of the weak who humbly come unto Him has shepherded her through many hard times.

Sarah D is not a teenager dreaming of a music career.  She is a wife and mother of five children balancing the demands of a large family against the rigors of working the music business. 

She is keenly aware that without her faith in God, and her belief that she is doing His will, she would be unable to successfully manage the demands of her chosen path.  She gets an enormous amount of moral and technical support from her husband and children.

Sarah D is yet another in a long line of socially introspective Hudson Valley artists.  She takes musical inspiration from the likes of Peter, Paul, & Mary, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, Bread, John Denver, and ABBA.

Sarah D graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Music and Dance.  She extended her formal music training at the Indiana Graduate School of Music.  She has performed in many musical's, operetta's, plays, and contata's.  She has directed her church's children's and adult choirs on and off since age 16.

Sarah D's diverse musical background lends a distinct flavor to her original songs; that empower individuals to be their own person and live their own dream.  (For those whose dream involves learning to play piano, guitar, violin or how to sing, click on the Music Lesson button.)

Sarah D has been heard in venues large and small: Carnegie Hall, Eisenhower Hall, Churches, Coffeehouses, Retirement Homes, Libraries and Clubs.  She has played from Boston to Washington DC, and from New York City to Seattle. 

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

On MY Mind 
June 29, 2008
I've been thinking a lot about a lot lately. Life is hard. I see it everywhere. It's true in my own life but I would be a fool to complain with the blessings of family and friends that I am lucky to enjoy. Aren't we funny as human beings. We need an answer for everything. We honestly think that an answer to everything is achievable and we think we deserve the answer to every question. We have religions that have so squarely marked out all the answers. We have laws that spell it all out. We have politicians that profess they can fix all the country's whoas and lawyers who live by the professed confidence that they can tackle any wrong and make it right, or any right and make the wrong right. What are we doing? Confidence and hope, dreams and faith are necessary to our existence, but why are we not just OK with not knowing an answer. If you are a fundamental christian, explain a hermaphrodite. Did God make a mistake? If you are an athlete, explain Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. If you are a musician, explain any number of artists that are absolutely terrible and still wealthy and successful at their chosen "art". Have you ever really know a gay person? If not, get to know one and explain why that person would choose to carry around all that comes with being gay in this century because SURELY they couldn't be born with it, right.?. Explain why Moses came down off the mount with the commandments, found Aaron and the Israelites worshipping a golden calf and had 3,000 put to death...and it seemed to be OK. Explain any number of things in the Old Testament! Explain why there is a St. Judes? Why are those hospitals filled with thousands of sweet little children. Explain a mother who dies while her children are young when the world is full of older adults whose children are long since on their own. The point is, the world is full of questions that we can't answer. What wasted energy we blow on trying to explain things that we can't. Why can't we be OK with not knowing. Why can't we truly put faith in our creator and believe and know that He (or "She" for all of you who would spit venom at me for saying "He"), who exists from the beginning of the ages and created all that is, might scatter our lives with questions that we cannot answer so that after many 
years of bumping our way around this earth we finally surrender to "Thy will be done". What is the answer to every question? The Hippies in the 60s, no matter how warped their methodology, were closer than we are today. Big Kenny has it on the back of his guitar. When Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was He said "Love"...Your God first, then your neighbor. That is the answer. Prejudice, arrogance, human cruelty of any kind are fear based actions that are trying to explain that which cannot be explained...all questions that love can explain. I hope that I can get to a place in my life where I can rest in the pure faith and knowledge that while I have strong religious, political and moral convictions, I can find solace that there is a God in heaven, my Father, who knows all the answers, a God who needs me to leave faith and hope in Him and live by that faith and rest in the assurance that love, charity and compassion is always the answer. I am glad to know it. I'm so tired of swimming circles in the questions! Dizzy makes my stomach turn.

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

came from. It has to sing well. The changes have to be solid for the studio musicians that will need to interpret what I play. I have to write for the voice, the soul, thecomplete person before me. And by the way, I do this as
part of a team, too. We have about 15 great writers on our
staff here that all contribute. The favorite writers may sit
with a client more than one time. But in general, the more
writers that get involved the better chance of getting that
elusive “hit” song that will get our clients that label

We write 10-12 songs with each new artists over a
week’s time. And just like in the real world…only the best
songs are chosen. Now, we write all types of music at this
company because our clients come from all over the world.
We write R&B, pop, blues and country. Country music,
while I’ve listened and enjoyed it all my life, was not my
strongpoint. So when I first started doing this work I let
myself absorb the town and took in everything I could. I
listened to country radio non-stop (still do) and soaked the
music in like a sponge all day long. Even my Breaking
Benjamin-loving wife, much to her credit, made sure I
listened whenever I was in the car, always dialing in stations that I know were probably grating on her nerves.

All of this listening ultimately benefited my songwriting
because I basically started writing country music that feels
and sounds like it fits back-to-back with competing songs
on the radio right now. This plan of action was crucial for
staying employed during the first few months here. They
all knew I was trying, giving it my all. And while I wrote
a lot of music (sometimes 2-3 songs a day) and the songs
were chart-worthy, that’s really about all they were: top
40 candidates. A few were recorded, and they’ll remain
etched in my memory as proof that every new venture starts somewhere. 

Copyright February 2009