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.

28 May 2013
May 28, 2013

Birth of an Online Book

May 28, 2013 0 Comment
Birth of an Online Book

We take for granted these days that we can use social media to create and share text, pictures, videos, voice, music, live teleconferences and more — all around the world with just a click or two at the keyboard.

It wasn’t always that way, of course. Thirty years ago — when basic text alone was all we could share — people like myself subscribed to various services that gave us access to the Internet and to each other. It was fun, exciting and new to send messages to someone — or a bunch of separate someones. In different countries. Different time zones. But sharing a common interest.

There were various terms for what we did and how we explored “computer mediated communication” — bulletin boards, Notepad, MetaNet, Internet Relay Chat, and more. There was no live texting back then with a simultaneous exchange; instead this was “asynchronous” communication.

We were early adopters of “computer-mediated communications”… accessing each other through early online services such as The Source, CompuServe, bulletin boards, Internet Relay Chats (IRC), and using software like “Parti” to hold these global group conversations.

Everything we did was practically primitive compared with today. Just the act of logging on was a concentrated effort — with an acoustic coupler modem, its squawking connection noises, and its extremely slow rates of transferring data.

At the time, however cumbersome, slow and unreliable these connections were, they felt miraculous.

Well, I remember those days and how exciting they were. A lot of us, in fact, thought of ours elves as planting the “seeds” of the future … as we generated “content” and paid dearly for the privilege of sharing it.

I’m curious to know if it’s a worthwhile venture to create a book that captures the memories and experiences of everyone still around who played an active role in computer communications back in those early days … anyone who is willing to put some thought and time into writing about what it was like.

With enough participation, I’ll turn it into a digital book … with every cent of profit going to several worthy charities.

I’d love to hear from you.

I will remember May 14, 2013. This is the day that my song, “I Will Carry You”, gained new potential and became available to the public in some exciting new ways.

When I wrote “IWCY”, I had a specific artist in mind. My “song plugger” at the time — that’s what they’re called in Nashville — told me about a Country singer whose grandchild had a sad and crippling disease. He was interested in a song that captured his caring about the child.

That’s what inspired my concept and words … but it turns out that a song about unswerving love and loyalty applies to anyone lucky enough to love and be loved. It’s being pitched in Nashville right now by a much better “plugger” than the one I had back then (Dec., 2007 — so the song is six years old, but hopefully its message is timeless!)

It is currently being KEPT — that’s the official “plugger’s” term — by a TV show. I’ve been right here before, with this song and others: some famous artists have seriously considered it (and some still might) but as yet, it hasn’t been “cut” by a Country artist.

Meanwhile, Shara Strand loved the song and chose it, along with D1 Music, for her first EP, “Born Tonight.” Now it’s being introduced as Shara’s second single … with three exciting new elements —

#1 – For $7.00 on iTunes today, one can buy the complete album,
with the original version, plus 16 DJ remixes, in both Club and Radio versions. For me as a songwriter, it’s a kick to hear how DJs with different sensibilities re-invent the song for different types of Dance Clubs and radio stations around the country. It seems to me almost anyone would find at least one version of the song they like … if not to dance to, at least to wiggle or tap to!

#2 – I’ve been fortunate to develop a partnership for Shara and the song with the American Humane Association — http://www.americanhumane.org — and proceeds from the song’s sales will benefit the wonderful work they do “to ensure the welfare, wellness and well-being of children and animals.”

#3 – a Facebook contest is happening right now. All people have to do is to send in a photo of themselves and their pets … any photo that expresses the loving relationship between them. Cash prizes will go to the winners, and contributions to AHA will be made in their names. If you love a special animal and would like to participate: http://www.sharastrand.com/contest.

So … a milestone day and new versions of a song I’m proud of, now available for people to dance to. I hope they do!

08 May 2013
May 8, 2013

A Day in the Life of A Writer

May 8, 2013 3 Comments
Shane McAnally

Today was about writing speeches, letters or videos for successful, high-powered corporate executives … and accepting assignments for non-corporate “regular” people — a University’s commencement address by the successful entrepreneur being honored … a father’s baptism speech for his 4-month old … and a speech for an Arizona lawyer, about my age, who just lost his dad and wants to celebrate him and his life at a memorial service.

It was an intense day.  But  I received thanks along the way from people who were really, really happy with my work.  Which felt great.

They all understand — these people who find me … I make them understand … that I am a “limited trick pony.”  (Fortunately, I’ve grown enough and become confident enough not to confine myself to just one trick.  That, alone, was worth the years of psychotherapy.)

Then tonight … tonight … I took off and went downtown to Joe’s Pub for a performance by four songwriters in a CMA (“Country Music Association”) evening there.  The focus was country music … famous, successful songs, performed by the people who actually wrote ’em.  (Oh, how dangerous I would be, if I could compose, play, and perform!)

I wrote down at least a half-dozen song ideas among the various notes I made while basking not only in the songs, but also in the inspirations that led to them, as told by the folks who actually wrote them.

During the day, today — I forgot to mention — I also worked to support “I Will Carry You”, the song I wrote with Paul Guzzone — to prepare for its launch as Shara Strand’s next single.  It’s been remixed by a colorful swathe of DJs … transforming the initial work into different beats and interpretations for a range of Dance Club vibes.

Tonight though, a different genre for me: Country.  And here was Shane McAnally — whose name I’d never heard before.  Suddenly he was playing one of my favorite Country songs — “Come Over” by Kenny Chesney … a huge hit, and a song I love for the way it captures, seductively, the loneliness and need of someone in need of a visit … and more.  Shane told us how the song developed.  I sang and rocked along with the audience, while admiring his work.

A great speech captures a truth of the speaker in a way that makes people get it.  A great song creates a feeling — based on truth.  I felt that as Shane sang the song so poignantly, while melodically.  The audience — yearning into the mood of desire within the song — rocked along together like a hundred paid performers.

I realized so clearly again tonight … I was meant to be a Writer.  Aside from my irreplaceable and beloved partner, that, in fact, is my joy: writing.  How lucky am I … to have found what I was meant for, and to love it as I live it.

I’m grateful that I can share these words.  And be so happy.

Eco Arts Finalist

I learned this morning that a choral song I wrote with composer Jim Papoulis, We Can Plant a Forest, has just been named a Finalist in an interesting songwriting competition.  It’s called the “Eco Arts Awards” — http://www.ecoartsawards.com.  They’re a group of volunteer collaborators, dedicated to raising global awareness of everyone’s responsibility — and opportunities — for the ecology of our planet.

I grew up on an island off the coast South Carolina, a speck on Atlantic ocean.  Beautiful beaches were part of everyday life, and a “forest” (as I thought of it — today I’d call it a “woods”) was right behind our house.

As much as I love such essential modernities as air conditioning and high-speed Internet, I will always remember finding “sand dollars” on the beaches and loving the fragrance of fresh pine cone branches I could sniff in my own backyard.

Kathryn Edwards

After learning about the Eco-Arts competition, I entered “Forest” immediately.  Jim and I have been sharing our royalties with Trees for the Future (http://www.treesforthefuture.org) and have thus far caused some 30,000 new trees to be planted on earth — a tiny fraction of the need.

When I spoke with the group’s Founder and Managing Director, Kathryn Edwards … I was immediately impressed with the sincerity of her commitment, and the way that she’s applying her professional experience in advertising, publishing and community arts to make a difference to public consciousness of, and support for, the ecology of earth.

Of course, I hope we win the prize in the Songwriting category.  But as they say at the “Oscars” — and as SOME of the quoted actors and actresses surely must actually mean it — from an organization like this one, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

And frankly, as a writer, it feels great to know that a few of my words are now publicly part of a much larger effort to do something good for the health of our planet.

In one seed
You’ll find tomorrow
Every seed
Is a tree of life

In each tree
There is a forest
That is waiting to be grown