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
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
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
5. I'M STILL A WOMAN (with Scott Turner)-Adopted By The Women's Suffrage
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
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 :