THE NASHVILLE UNDERGROUND SURFACES...A Songwriter's Spotlight
from The New Jersey Country Music Scene / Kelly Salonica
What better way to experience the true feeling and purpose of a song than to hear it performed by its creator: the songwriter. Founded in 1999 by recording artist Lan White and husband, songwriter Chuck Cannon (former President of the Nashville Songwriter's Association International), the Nashville Underground record label showcases the exceptionally multi-talented, professional songwriters who call Nashville home. The label has released two sampler CDs that will be part of a series intended to honor the music of some of the industry's finest songwriters.
Both sampler projects feature a group of songwriters, each performing the original version of one of their best-known hits, as well as one of their more personal songs, thereby displaying the depth of their artistry. Here exists the opportunity for songwriters to enjoy unrestrained artistic expression while taking advantage of the power of their collective resources. From the songwriter's standpoint, there's no one breathing down your neck telling you what you can and can not write, or what will and will not sell. Ask anyone who's been to Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe' to hear any of these songwriters perform and they'll give you the inside scoop-A songwriter will do an incredible song and then inform the audience that, for reasons involving A&R and/or marketing executive decisions, you'll never hear this on the radio or on record. Well, because of the Nashville Underground, those songs now have a vehicle in which to surface and finally fit into a niche that is theirs and theirs alone.
For White and Cannon, Nashville Underground is all about doing what's best for those who record on their projects. What a lot of people don't realize is that most songwriters didn't head to Nashville just to write songs. There is an artist part of the songwriter that longs to be heard. The Nashville Underground is expanding on the premise that songwriters are artists in their own right. Their artistry is a world unto itself and they want to turn the listeners on to that. The label's intention is to educate people to the importance of songwriters, which is especially crucial as the industry struggles to cope with copyright issues such as internet song swapping. At Nashville Underground, artists/songwriters own their masters and receive top-dollar royalty rates as writers and publishers. Their ultimate goal is to create a Nashville Underground brand along the lines of Windham Hill.
The general purchasing public, for the most part, is not aware of the songwriting culture in Nashville. Songwriters don't receive anywhere near the recognition they deserve. Nine times out of ten, it's the recording artist's name (not the songwriter's) that is the most common link to a hit song title. They recorded it so, on radio, the artist's name is the one you hear, and the artist is the one who receives the fanfare when he or she performs it on stage. It becomes inherent for an audience to assume that the artist and songwriter are one in the same. Now, with the increasing popularity of songwriting circles and the birth of the Nashville Underground, an awareness of their importance has moved songwriters up in the ranks of recognition. After all, without "the song" there is no hit. In the past year, many recording artists have begun to express a great respect for "the song" and don't hesitate to mention the songwriter when touring or accepting an award. You may or may not know them by name, but once you read on it will soon become clear-These songwriters are the vibrant threads that weave the intricate tapestry that is a fundamental part of the music industry.
Sampler Series Volume I features the talents of six songwriters you will come to recognize by their successes. Chuck Jones performs the humbling "Your Love Amazes Me," a number one hit for John Berry; adding her own very personal touch, Stephony Smith performs "It's Your Love," an award winning duet for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill; a hit for Ty Herndon, "What Mattered Most" is sensitively done to perfection by Gary Burr; Victoria Shaw performs "The River," co-written with Garth Brooks and a number one hit for Brooks; Chuck Cannon performs "I Love The Way You Love Me," made famous by John Michael Montgomery, and Pam Rose performs "I'll Still Be Loving You," a hit that will forever be Restless Heart's trademark song. A companion book developed in conjunction with the album featuring stories about the songs and their origins is also available.
Sampler Series Volume II showcases another group of equally impressive songwriters. A number one hit for Trisha Yearwood, "The Song Remembers When" is performed by the master of imagery and Long Island resident Hugh Prestwood; Steven Allen Davis performs a heartbreaking and yet somehow hopeful "Highway Highway"; Marcus Hummon performs a piano/vocal version of Dixie Chicks hit, "Cowboy Take Me Away," co-written with Marty Seidel of the Dixie Chicks; Shenandoah hit "Church On Cumberland Road" is done by Bob DiPiero; Gary Nickolson performs "The Trouble With The Truth," recorded by Patty Loveless, and Billy Dean performs an acoustic version of his own hit, "Somewhere In My Broken Heart."
The Nashville Underground's women's collection will be the focus of the third Sampler Series, currently in the works. Two of the singer/songwriters that will be featured are Tia Sillers performing "I Hope You Dance" (Lee Ann Womack) and Angela Kaset singing "Something In Red" (Lori Morgan).
For the songwriters, the Nashville Underground label represents the chance to showcase their own, often unique, versions of music and lyrics. For listeners it's a way to experience the heart and soul of the music they've come to love. These two CDs are a pure expression of songwriting genius that luminously fill the senses and bring to light the beauty that music truly is deep down in its core.
The sampler CDs are available through the label's website:
OR BY MAIL AT:
Nashville Underground Record Collective, P.O. Box 120086, Nashville, TN firstname.lastname@example.org