31 Aug 2015
August 31, 2015

Celebrating An Unforeseen Achievement

August 31, 2015 3 Comments
mike2015-08

Standing: Betty Robertson, Jim & Sophia Papoulis, DJ Tony Smith Seated: Mike Greenly, Professor James (“Bud”) Robertson

After almost twenty years without a state song, the Commonwealth of Virginia now officially has two … one of which, astoundingly enough, is mine!

As of July 1, 2015, “Our Great Virginia” became the official anthem of the Commonwealth … the Traditional State Song of Virginia. (“Sweet Virginia Breeze” by Robbin Thompson became the official Popular Song.)  Governor Terry McAuliffe signed both songs into law on March 26.

In mid-August, 2015, my two Virginia champions of the song … Historian, Prof. James (“Bud”) Robertson and his dynamic wife Betty … visited New York City from their beloved state to join me, DJ Tony Smith, and Jim and Sophia Papoulis for a celebration of what we had accomplished together.

Crucial to making this happen was Virginian, Truman Ross.  When Bud was looking for a lyricist, Truman helped by turning to my best-in-class professional song plugger in Nashville, Chris Keaton (originally a Virginian, himself) who recommended me.

The assignment was to write lyrics to the classic American folksong, “Oh, Shenandoah,” long associated with Virginia.  (One of these days, I hope to visit the Shenandoah Valley and see the Shenandoah River in person.)

Composer/Conductor Jim Papoulis – my partner in composing three of the four Dance Club songs I’ve written that became Billboard-charted hits – did the beautiful arrangement of the folk song with my words.

Sophia Papoulis – in addition to her gorgeous vocals in one of its performances – helped manage the project with grace and professionalism.

And DJ Tony Smith – a bona fide legend from the Disco Days, who’s still at the top of his game –  helps me pursue my passion for songwriting and makes my life happy in countless ways. (If you want to hear his work, he has a regular Disco Classics program on Sirius XM Radio, Channel 54, every Thursday night @ 9pm Eastern … repeated Mondays at 1pm Eastern.  The sounds and focus vary from week to week.)

HamiltonSo the six of us had a wonderful dinner at Gallagher’s Steakhouse.  The next night, the Robertsons, Tony and I saw “Hamilton” … one of the most impressive and influential Broadway musicals I will ever have seen in my decades of avid theater-going.

So … let it be known … Happy Workaholic I may be … but we did take time to celebrate in style.  I’m immensely honored (and still amazed) actually to have written a real state song.  And I’m grateful to my parents, Sam and Lucille Greenly, who gave me the strong work ethic that still powers me today as I use the few real aptitudes I have – as a writer … whether of speeches, video scripts or songs.  I’m a happy and lucky guy.

31 Aug 2014
August 31, 2014

Appreciating Movie that Speaks (Sings) to Me

August 31, 2014 0 Comment

I cannot be objective about this movie, “Begin Again.” It has too many personal connections for me … too many levels on which I, in particular, would inevitably enjoy and be touched by it. I was so affected by it, in fact, that I don’t trust myself to recommend it in a blanket way to others.

BUT … Hypothetically speaking …

Begin Again PosterIf you happen to relate to the power of a song – not just “music” but an actual SONG — to reach into people’s hearts … and if you like tapping your feet and swaying gently to a beat even as you’re being moved … and/or if you have any reason to relate to the actual inspiration, creation and production of a song …

If you have experienced, as I have, the feeling that everything you thought you could count on in your life has disappeared beneath your feet – suddenly dropping you into an abyss and leaving you in doubt as to if and how you could possibly carry on, let alone imagine yourself actually happy again some day …

If you enjoy smart, contemporary screenwriting that can make you laugh AND feel pangs of poignant emotion, both in recognition of what’s true …

If you admire clever, insightful direction … wonderfully thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive acting … and savvy set and costume design …

And if, perhaps, you remember and enjoyed the movie “Once” and/or the Broadway Musical (winner of 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical” – written and directed by John Carney who created “Begin Again”) …

Then, maybe … that’s all I’m saying … maybe you will consider this movie as wonderfully special as I did. But given who I am, given the person I’ve become, I simply couldn’t help myself.

So I surrender. I love this movie.  (And I’m listening to the sound track as I write this … even as I’m thinking of the next song I will write — immediately following the speech I’m working on right now for a major exec I very much enjoy supporting.)

18 Jun 2014
June 18, 2014

A Tribute To Virginia

June 18, 2014 0 Comment

Growing up in South Carolina, even while being taught about my home state, I developed a special reverence for Virginia and its place in the nation’s history. It’s known, of course, as the birthplace of our first President … then Jefferson … continuing through to Woodrow Wilson. I’ll never be able to brag about my personal knowledge of history, but I know enough to realize that Virginia has a special heritage. Amazingly — earlier this year — I was honored to be invited to write a tribute in song to the state.

BudBetty

Betty & James “Bud” Robertson

The person who reached out to me was award-winning professor and author Dr. James I. (“Bud”) Robertson, Jr. With his wife Betty, he has been on a six-year mission to find a fitting anthem for the state they so deeply love. Virginia has gone for many years without an anthem of its own. In 1940 “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” — composed as “Virginny” by James A. Bland (1854-1911,) an African-American minstrel — was designated the official state song. In 1997 it was retired from official use because its lyrics were considered offensive by many Virginians. (Understandably so!) Dr. Robertson’s quest for a new anthem began in 2008, when he conferred with key members of the Virginia legislature about pursuing the creation of a new state song to the melody of “Shenandoah.” The idea was enthusiastically received. Since then, according to Dr. Robertson, he has been an avid one-man committee in trying to get a worthy song produced. Thanks to the recommendation of my professional “song plugger” in Nashville – Chris Keaton (a native Virginian, himself) – I was introduced to Dr. Robertson. Chris is not only one of the finest professionals in his field, but a wonderful friend, as well. I quickly turned to one of my songwriting partners, Jim Papoulis, who can quite legitimately be called a global leader in choral music – in both composing and conducting. Together – with Lead Vocals by Sophia Miller – we created a tribute to the state, entitled, “Our Great Virginia.”

You’ll find it on iTunes with the voices of the Fairfax Choral Society Concert under the leadership of Director Patrick F. Vaughn.

If you know someone who lives in Virginia – or loves it – I hope you’ll let them know that there’s now a new musical tribute to a place they care about. Here’s the complete Press Release, if you’d like to review it. Media coverage:

OUR GREAT VIRGINIA
You’ll always be
our great Virginia.
You’re the birthplace of the nation.
Where history
was changed forever.
Today, your glory stays,
as we build tomorrow

I fill with pride
at all you give us –
rolling hills, majestic mountains,
from the Shenandoah
to the Atlantic
rivers wide and forests tall,
all in one Virginia

For each of us
here in Virginia …
from farm to city dweller …
all of us, we stand together.
We’re yours, we all are yours –
across our great Virginia

You’ll always be our great Virginia

Based on “Oh Shenandoah”, American folk song dating back to at least the early 1800’s. Arrangement: Jim Papoulis. Lyrics: Mike Greenly Vocal: Sophia Miller Choir: Fairfax Choral Society Concert Choir Director: Patrick F. Vaughn

06 May 2014
May 6, 2014

Tribute Song for the Single Mom

May 6, 2014 2 Comments

Mother’s Day is approaching … and although my mother has been gone for more than three years, I’m glad to be part of a musical tribute this year to single moms across the country.

I grew up, as did one of my songwriting partners, Paul Guzzone, with a mom and a dad.  I was “different” from my peers in my own particular ways.

I had skipped a grade, so I was younger.  I was not athletic, so I was a geek. And I was Jewish in a Southern Baptist town, with swastikas carved into my locker and taunts of  “Here comes the Jew Boy!  Who did you cheat today, Jew Boy?”

But I did have two committed parents, steadily part of my life.  A third songwriting partner – Jake Stigers – didn’t have that equal footing when he grew up in Boise, Idaho.  His mother, Margaret, raised him by herself, along with his older brother, Curtis.

Young Jake

Young Jake

The beauty of collaboration in songwriting – as the corporate clients for whom I write speeches, often cite is true in business – is how a team can produce results beyond what any individual could have done.

On my own, I would never have thought to write a song called, “Single Mom”.   But Jake, Paul and I built on Jake’s true-life history and together we created a song in several versions: a first person version sung by Jake, himself … and a third person version.

Link to video with Jake singing third person lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4fP0nv_d78

Link to hear Jake singing first person version of lyrics
https://soundcloud.com/revrun-luvjoy read more →

20 Feb 2014
February 20, 2014

My song: Competition FINALIST

February 20, 2014 0 Comment

I am honored to announce that, for the second year in a row, a choral song I wrote with composer Jim Papoulis, We Can Plant a Forest, was judged a Finalist in a songwriting competition with very worthy goals.

It’s the “Eco Arts Awards” – http://www.ecoartsawards.com – a group of volunteers, dedicated to raising global awareness of our responsibilities — and opportunities — for the ecology of our planet.

I make my living not as a songwriter … but as a speechwriter, scriptwriter, presentation coach, and creative director.  Having been a corporate officer (VP, Marketing & Communications – Avon Products, Inc.) I know what life is like on an executive’s side of a desk.  I like using my skill with words to help someone else’s career shine more brightly in the spotlight.

If you know someone who needs an “Ace” speechwriter – I’m your guy!

Meanwhile, I get pleasure from writing songs and knowing that the public enjoys then. In this case, Jim’s and my song benefits Trees for the Future – http://www.treesforthefuture.org.  We have caused some 30,000 new trees to be planted on earth — a tiny fraction of the need.  We’ll cause another 10,000 trees to be planted this year.

“We Can Plant a Forest” is now being performed by young choristers around the world. May it help to motivate listeners to be more conscious of supporting our planet’s environment.  The reaction from kids has been tremendously enthusiastic.

If you’d like to know what “We Can Plant a Forest” sounds like, here’s the iTunes link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-can-plant-forest-feat./id424921826

 

 

 

 

30 Dec 2013
December 30, 2013

Year-end Remembrance of My Parents

December 30, 2013 3 Comments

As 2014 approaches, I think about the fact that – once again – I won’t be phoning my parents in Beaufort, SC, to wish them a Happy New Year.

Having both of them gone affects my perspective in ever-reverberating ways. As empathetic as I’ve always thought myself to be, I’ve gained a new and visceral understanding – beyond just intellectual comprehension — of what it means to be human. In a way that wasn’t so before – couldn’t have been so … I couldn’t have known how this would feel — I have a new connection now to anyone else who’s lost their parents. My condolences to others today reflect a richer understanding of what’s just happened to someone else.

That’s my mother, Lucille. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and using a walker – having suffered lasting lung damage from the radiation that she received for her breast cancer. She was a vivacious Southern belle …of her own unique ilk, since she had grown up Jewish in this tiny island town. Scarlett O’Hara, my mother was not. But she had been beautiful all her life and had a discreetly playful demeanor when she wasn’t obsessively worrying about everything, or analyzing it. (Sound familiar, to those who know me?)

Fortunately, I was to acknowledge her, before she passed, for the gifts that I inherited from her – including just conversation with her … she was so bright and so precise — that make me a writer today.

And that’s my dad, Sam. He taught me fairness, punctuality and dependability, the value of a generous heart, and the blessing of a sense of humor. Also, a commitment to working hard and to pleasing clients. They were “customers,” in his context: he ran my grandfather’s building supply company, in addition to teaching psychology at the local University of South Carolina branch.
They were the love of each other’s lives. To a phenomenal degree, they complemented each other. For my mother, the glass was not only half-empty… it was cracked, and losing water from its sides. For my father, the glass was more than half-full … it was overflowing with reasons to be happy. You can see that even in his “everything’s A-OK” gesture for the camera.

I know that he’d be proud of the fact that I’m sharing proceeds from my new song, “With You”, with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). And he, as well as Mother, would be astonished if they could hear the impact of Kimberly Davis singing my words.

To anyone who reads this: Happy New Year.

17 Dec 2013
December 17, 2013

New Song Benefits Alzheimer’s Organization

December 17, 2013 1 Comment

My dad – Samuel Clifford Greenly — is the reason I’m fanatically punctual, believe in fairness and in keeping an open mind, and have a good sense of humor, even though I’m too earnest to properly tell a joke.

Dad is also one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s Disease matters so much to me … and having seen it up-close, why I’m so afraid of it.  (I work to keep my mind active, to help prevent this terrible affliction.)

My mother, Lucille Greenly, is probably the single most significant reason I became a writer – of speeches, video scripts, songs, you-name-it.  Another big reason is my lack of grace and dexterity in the physical world.  I seem to live in my head; furniture never gets out of my way when I’m walking, deep in thought, and find myself bumping into it.  Better just to write!

My latest song — “With You” – was composed by Jim Papoulis and produced by “Soulbeats NYC” (Jim and DJ Tony Smith in collaboration.)  It is Kimberly Davis’s third single, released today from D1 Music in NYC and available in multiple formats on iTunes.  The song is part of the Soulful House genre – with a meaning that could be either romantic or spiritual:

WITH YOU

There’ve been times when I have wondered
If I’d ever find my way
Days with so much darkness
All that I could do was pray
But now with you beside me
Here’s the way I live each day

With You!
I can be whatever I want
I can do whatever I need to (etc.)

Some DJs have already previewed “With You” in their Clubs, and they expect it to do very well.   Here are a few seconds of sound as DJ Abel Aguilera & Ralphi Rosario previewed a remix of it (by DJ Escape & Tony Coluccio Mix) at their Alegria party in NYC, 10/27/13 and report that the song pulled crowds out onto the floor.  http://bit.ly/1bN9qRx   I hope you’ll check it out on iTunes and amazon.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “With You” benefits the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to “providing optimal care to individuals confronting dementia, and to their caregivers and families, through member organizations dedicated to improving quality of life.”    High Res AFA logo

14 Dec 2013
December 14, 2013

“Always My Angel”

December 14, 2013 0 Comment

Today is the One Year Anniversary of the terrible shooting of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT – Dec. 14, 2012.  That incident was the genesis of a new choral song of mine – not yet available to the public.  (Sheet music expected before Spring, 2013; also exploring possibilities with recording artist.)

I make my living as a writer of speeches, video scripts, voicemails, letters, presentations, etc., for corporate clients.  I’m also a speech coach (to help them deliver their messages more effectively) and a creative director (helping to develop the elements of a meeting that help its communications be motivating and memorable.)

When clients learn that I’m a songwriter, they seem to correctly infer, “Maybe the guy can write speeches, too.”  (I can!)

In the meantime, though, it gives me great personal satisfaction to write songs and to use many of them to raise awareness and/or funds for worthy causes.  I’ll be honest – I am proud of “Always My Angel.”  Here is a link to a video about its creation in choral form.  http://bit.ly/1fcDKcx

31 Oct 2013
October 31, 2013

“I Will Carry You” Lyrics

October 31, 2013
Chasing the Moon | Paul Guzzone

Chasing the Moon
Paul Guzzone

Writing the words to a song is not dissimilar, in some ways, from writing a speech, presentation, letter or video script for a client.  There’s a desired message and my job is to express it clearly and effectively.

What I’ve enjoyed discovering with “I Will Carry You” is how different the feeling around the message becomes, depending on the style of the music and the artist’s performance that delivers it.

This song has been recorded for the public – by two very different artists: Shara Strand and Paul Guzzone – in Adult Contemporary, Reggae, Live Acoustic and Dance Club styles.  

Its expression of love and loyalty applies not only to relationships between people … but also between people and the animals they love.  Shara and I partnered with the American Humane Association, a wonderful organization with whom we have shared revenues from this song.

 A few people have inquired about the lyrics, so I’m offering them below.

I Will Carry You | Shara Strand

I Will Carry You
Shara Strand

I WILL CARRY YOU © Mike Greenly

Verse1:
I know that life isn’t fair
And there’s a lot you gotta handle
But baby I really care
It hurts to see you this way

Always remember
That you’ve got me
And I’ll be there for you

Chorus:
Yes I will carry you, when your legs are weary
I will lift you up when the water’s high
I will hold you close when the wind is howling
When the road is long, I will carry you home

Verse 2:
So now you know that I’m here
You know that I am in your corner
And I will always be near
Nothing can keep me away

It doesn’t matter
Where or when
Cause baby I’ll be there

Chorus:
Yes I will carry you, when your legs are weary
I will lift you up when the water’s high
I will hold you close when the wind is howling
When the road is long, I will carry you home

Don’t be surprised when you realize
I am always on your side

Chorus:
I will carry you, when your legs are weary
I will lift you up when the water’s high
I will hold you close when the wind is howling
When the road is long, I will carry you home

You are not alone
I will carry you home

17 Jun 2013
June 17, 2013

A Words Connection

June 17, 2013 0 Comment
Shara Live Performance

I used to be in the corporate spotlight – with the pleasure and glory (and stress) that comes with it. I learned how to transform myself (on-stage, at least) from a shy, introverted geek with an active mind … to a “performer” in front of a hall of employees whom I needed to touch, motivate, inspire and convince. Now, after those decades of personal growth in front of an audience, the experience enables me to help current executives shine under their own corporate spotlights … and reap the rewards that come, in a business context, from effective presentation skills in a well-crafted message.

Last night, I got to see and hear my words expressed not to fellow employees … but to a live audience. I got heard them sung by a beautiful young woman who really and truly can sing. My trainer, Bryan Mirabella, was there and pronounced Shara Strand “great!” My song promoter, Bobby Shaw — hopefully he’ll help bring enough attention to the song that it gets charted on BILLBOARD — was there, right beside me. He not only pronounced his satisfaction with Shara afterward, but he said again that it’s “a very good song.” Which Bobby doesn’t say lightly.

Just as rewarding, I’ve gotten to hear from people who don’t know me at all (by reading their posts on social media sites like this one) talking about the song and finding meaning in “I Will Carry You”. I know that my composer, Paul Guzzone, gets similar reactions when he performs it.

Tomorrow, very early, I fly to Orlando. I’ll work hard all week doing my utmost to help each executive express her/his message in the clearest, most impactful, most effective way possible. And I will take satisfaction in seeing them shine.

And last night, I got to hear Shara sing and dance and bring to physical life my own personal song of loyalty and love. I got to bask n the cheers of the crowd — quietly, discreetly, like the Southern Gentleman I’ll always be. No one needs to know my name –- not the audiences of my clients, not the people applauding Shara. But it’s a joy –- and for an introvert like me, a great convenience –- that I can enjoy a meaningful connection to others, simply through my words alone, even as I staying, now, on the sidelines of the corporate ballroom or dance club. I’m lucky.

And I’m glad to have this place where I can share my thoughts with you.