A new concept in songwriter rounds took place at The Listening Room on Monday, October 18th: Nobody played a guitar or keyboard, nobody sang their own songs, and every singer was a great singer, performing each song to the studio tracks. Now what are the odds of that? How did this happen?
It’s the creation of Frances and Harry Date of Song Matchmakers Network (A division of Silk and Denim Music). They refer to themselves as “song publishers” rather than music publishers because they don’t sign writers; they only sign great songs and pitch them for artists, movies, and TV. And they only let great singers sing the best of those songs at their showcases.
When Frances was asked how this of concept came about, she said: “As publishers and songwriters, we know the importance of casting the right singer to interpret and sell the song.” It’s equally important to have the right arrangement, groove, and musicians to put the song over the top. Nashville is a town that has the most incredible talent, so Harry and I thought, “why not have some of those singers present our songs with studio tracks. It would also be a way of giving talented singers some exposure to the Nashville scene in a new and exciting way.”
Songs performed at the showcase came from writers as far away as West Sussex, England, L.A., Vermont, and as close as, of course, Nashville! The Song Matchmakers up and coming artists featured were: Melissa DuVall, Jordan Kirkdorffer, Brittany Spriggs, Ryan Zachos, Jennifer Majors, Jaime Riley, and special guest, gospel recording artist and songwriter Jessica Ford.
In the first round, Brittany Spriggs sang “It Might Get Loud” to the delight of songwriter Pat Kelley. He and his wife Linda came in from Vermont for the event. This is what he had to say: ”The songs and performances were incredible. Brittany Spriggs and Melissa DuVall did a terrific job on my song….made me proud.”
Also in that round, Melissa DuVall sang a pop song by writer Matt Elwood from England, a song that will soon be recorded by a new artist that Sid Bernstein and John Anthony of Banner Records are about to break. Melissa had the crowd in her hands with her rendition. Frances asked the audience if they liked the idea of featuring pop songs with country songs, and the audience enthusiastically applauded. They made it known that they liked the idea of using the studio tracks, too.
In the second round were songs that Frances and Harry wrote that were chosen for the TSAI (Tennessee Songwriters Association International) Gold Nuggets compilation, which is a collection of the best songs from each year—picked up the most by Industry leaders at TSAI pitch workshops. Jordan Kirkdorffer put a lot of emotion into the heart rending song, “I Don’t Want To Be That Guy.”
Terry Bell of Gateway Entertainment thought the song was special and later asked for a copy for his new artist. When asked about the night he said: “I thought Song Matchmakers concept of using music tracks with up and coming artists to sing the songs was a very unique idea. The singers were exceptional! The Date’s matched each singer with the songs they were singing, so the overall performance showcased the song but also the singers. It was done very professionally and a nice change of pace from the regular writers’ rounds that are happening in Nashville. I believe that the companies that are going to be successful in this highly competitive business need to offer a different approach to the services they offer. I think that what I saw this evening fits that description and wish Frances and Harry great success in placing their songs. I will definitely contact them when I'm looking for quality songs for the artist projects we produce.”
Other highlights of the show was Gospel Recording Artist and songwriter Jessica Ford who performed her song “All That I Need” with such amazing vocals that when the song was over, Frances asked the bartender if there were any broken glasses. The performance was truly that powerful.
Jaime Riley did a wonderful job when she sang a moving song, ”Loves His Wife.” Songwriter Melissa Bollea, past TSAI Workshop Director was in the audience and remarked that “Loves His Wife is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I have never wanted to be a recording artist but listening to this song, and if I ever record a CD, I would put this on it. I cannot believe how this song makes me feel. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to own a record company or run and A and R office.“
In the third round, Ryan Zachos sang “You Loved The Hell Out Of Me.” The songwriter, Derrick Hampton and his wife Roxanne came in from Dublin, Georgia for the event. He said: “The showcase was excellent! The music sounded great and the singers were amazing. It was refreshing hearing a song with the full accompaniment. Ryan sang the heck out of my song.”