Hopeless Believer
(I am a Songwriter)

by Dianne Baumgartner ©1997
(Edited by Lynne Robin Green) Used by permission of author.

I have been asked to tell my own story exclusively here for LI'L HANK'S GUIDE and as I try to recount 23 devoted years of songwriting as a career, I find it almost impossible to do this in just these few pages, but I'll try, because that's the kind of attitude a Songwriter has to have if they want to succeed....Nothing is ever impossible! Today it is more competitive and with higher odds for gifted talented songwriters to even make a dent in that great door of stardom and success.But every now and then someone sneaks in.And it could be you.! And it still could be ME! I am a hopeless believer, a professional dreamer who never says never...

Twenty three years ago someone heard my little 'accapella' songs and believed in ME enough to arrange and sing them and to get them demoed by a friend of hers--LES PAUL! And Les Paul thank god, believed in me enough to encourage me to continue writing songs..NO he didn't open any doors for me---HE OPENED ME!..(If HE could take me seriously, than so could I..I went through seven 'investors' in seven years of "good luck"..Everyone kept believing in me. But I could never answer the question they all had--"WHERE'S THE MONEY?" When you fall in love, if money is on your list, you're NOT in love at all...But I was in love with MUSIC! I went from 'great quality' pop love ballad professional singer LES PAUL demo's-- to 'no quality" traditional country --ME singing my heart out-"Kitchen demos"..Anything to get my ideas on tape and keep the songs coming.

I started out knowing NOTHING about the music business. Copyright's, marketing, publisher's and contracts were all a foreign language to me, BUT - I learned everything on my own, usually the hard way, and initially did everything wrong at least once...But within three years I was being published ,recorded and released!..But still there was no MONEY. AND I begged, I borrowed and I just kept on writing MORE songs! Music had become MY life, and my life was now filled with singer's, other songwriters and countless hired musicians. Music is people and I was having it all! One connection lead to another and another. I was working with anyone and everyone who shared my dream.I was now writing Production numbers; sometimes rehearsing with 5 musicians and a singer and recording my demos at big professional studios (like North Lake Sound and The Loft in Westchester County, New York.) I also spent many hours in little basement studios, cheap but effective! My days were spent writing new songs, copying demo tapes,and raising my two sons...But at night I was making music everywhere!

In 1983 I ended up at the AGAC (now Songwriters Guild of America)-Professional Songwriters workshop in NYC, under the direction of Lou Stallman (author of It's Gonna Take A Miracle )He taught me TWO things that changed forever my writing mentality that I'd like to share with you.

1.Write visually--(SAY IT so they can SEE it). 2. Start collaborating--(Your lyrics are better than your melodies).

As of this date I have collaborated with 54 different composers. I found that lyric's are my forte and I also found my own voice to tell the stories in my head. Collaborating afforded me the opportunity of expanding my capabilities of genre from ballads to countrypop to Disco, Rap, Soul /R&B,and Gospel. By collaborating I could write anything and have someone else musically CAPTURE the feeling I intended...I have been called talented, gutsy,determined, crazy, committed and impossible..! I have also been called 'friend' and I have ALWAYS been called "Songwriter". I have traveled as a songcrafter and have been to NYC,North Carolina,Nashville,New Jersey and numerous other little places in my pursuit of 'happiness'.I have rubbed shoulders with some great people: Les Paul, Doc Pomus, Bert DeCoteaux (VP Columbia Records), Bob Cuttarella (Chappell Music), Sid Garris (New Christy Minstrels) and Jim Prater (Liberty Records).

I also have met many more equally great people in this business whose names may never be known..I have written about 500 songs,and have demoed over 300 of them. I have mailed well over 6000 demos tapes to Publishers in all these years. And I have signed over 200 publishing contracts with 90 to 100 different Publishers. I presently have 37 active publishing contracts --so anything is always possible especially if you're a hopeless believer.

I have had songs recorded and performed by: Jonathon Edwards, Roy Clark, Joe Diffie, Shelby Lynne, Gene Clark (the Byrds). I've had airplay monies from these recordings and others in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I have had my songs aired on TV on TNN twice - (The Alabama Special Tribute to Richard Petty - where Joe Diffie performed my song YOU DID IT ALL (with Scott Turner) --a special tribute song dedicated to Richard Petty); Leona Williams-performed BROKEN RECORD (with Horace Linsley). In Australia -THIS HEARTS GONNA HEAL (with Allan Licht, Barry Polevoi, Dennis Lewin - that's with a NY Publisher); a promotional TV spot for General Hospital, I'D LOVE YOU ANYWAY (with Brad Moranz, through Lynne Robin Green's publishing companies), and many more.

My most cherished rewards in this business of music has been my NON-PROFIT works:

1. PROTECT THE CHILDREN (with Allan Licht) -Vanished Childrens Alliance/Calif.
2. I BELONG TO THIS WORLD (with Dorothy Stiefel and Allan Licht-Deaf/Blind Texas Assoc. of R.P.
3. FEEL THE LOVE (with Allan Licht)-Ronald Mc Donald House/Ohio Chapter
4. TELL ME SHE'S NOT DYING (with Steven A. Worthy)-Earth Day -Westchester County,NY.
5. I'M STILL A WOMAN (with Scott Turner)-Adopted By The Women's Suffrage Movement-New Zealand.
6. PUT IT ON (with Steven A. Worthy and Bob Fuchs)-Aids Awareness Song-circulated by Planned Parenthood/NY.

I'm sure that God gave me a voice and I've USED IT...and somehow, somewhere, in my heart I know I have made a difference. And that (to me) is really what 'Songwriting' is all about..I have won many honorable mentions and awards in Song Competitions. I have received special awards from ASCAP.And the art of publicity was handed to me firsthand long ago by a friend (Anne Leighton) who worked for Hit Parader Magazine and who helped me to be written up in four different music publications and taught me to promote myself like a pro. As it went on I was also gratefully written about in: Womens News,Aquarian Arts Weekly, The Patent Trader Newspaper, Spotlight Magazine and THEN almost on it's own --ONE of my little songs found its way to Music Row Magazine and was written up in a rave review by Robert K. Oermann.

The path I've taken so far as a Songwriter has been long but never dull, hard, but never impossible and I'd like to share with you some of the important things that I've learned from the experience :


1. EGO - is a trip you usually wish you hadn't taken.Travel light!

-I've never written a song . I've only always REWRITTEN a song.

They are like marriages. Choose them wisely. They can give you wings, and they can crush you too.

A Publisher is someone who can share your own heart, don't break it.

The difference between an Amateur and a Professional is endurance.

-Quantity is a plastic recyclable, Quality is a porcelain masterpiece.

is the light of life.

To network is to weave the spider's web that hopefully catches the fly.

9. HIT SONG ---
A Hit Song is a song that no-one wanted, but YOU never got tired of hearing.

10. GRAMMY --
If you still have your dream, you've got your grammy.

After all these years of sacrificing everything for this dream ---Do I regret anything?
……..ONLY all the song's I HAVEN'T written……......Would I do it all again?
……..ONLY if I could do it EXACTLY the same way.

Good Luck--And never give up on what you believe in!!!

Diane Baumgartner

P.S. - I do not play an instrument. I am now fifty one. I have been legally blind since age nineteen as a result of retinitis pigmentosa (a hereditary and progressive eye disease). I now have less than 5 degrees of peripheral vision left. I've never been able to drive....And I have rubbed two nickels into oblivion always' believing and working for my songwriting ...(So, ....IF I can do it, ....so can you!!! )

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