Everybody has a story to tell. That’s the heart of songwriting – telling stories and relaying emotion. Whether it’s love or loss, joy or fear, good times gone bad or bad times getting worse – a song has the power to communicate it all. It’s what I’ve spent my life doing, both on my own and with other musicians.
Through the years I discovered that I also enjoyed working with non-musicians, originally through The Be An Artist Program, which I founded in 2003 to encourage creativity in young students. Custom sessions focusing on songwriting soon expanded to include universities, business programs and conflict-resolution seminars. Early in 2012, I formally launched SongwritingWith, a program with specific vision in mind: Collaboration. Listening. And storytelling with heart.
The concept of SongwritingWith is simple. Put me in a room with a guitar and a handful of people, open your ears and your heart, and watch the magic unfold – often with laughter, sometimes with a few tears and always closing with a sense of accomplishment.
Songs have a way of expressing what words alone sometimes can’t. And for people who may find it difficult to tell their stories – to their families or friends, or even to themselves – collaborating on a song is often a start in the right direction. SongwritingWith projects in 2012 have included working with U.S. military veterans returning from combat, with homeless young adults at a shelter in New Jersey and with residents of a Botswanan village and South African township who have been affected by HIV and AIDS.
Our projects vary in scope and duration. Sometimes it’s a songwriting session of two or three hours. Sometimes it’s a weekend retreat of a couple days. It may be a dozen people working together as a group, or we might work in one-on-one sessions. Often it’s a spontaneous blend of both.
The SongwritingWith series is a part of Be An Artist Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation. If you’d like to learn how we could collaborate on a SongwritingWith project, or if you would like to lend your support to the series, please contact me.