Songwriting students showcase efforts on Renaissance Center stage

Release Date: 8/6/2002. Expired: 8/17/2002

While there won’t be any caps and gowns and there won’t be a graduation speech, it definitely promises to be a unique night when the members of The Renaissance Center’s songwriting class showcase their efforts live on the stage of the Performance Hall at 7 p.m. Aug. 17.

Joined on stage by professional songwriter Wood Newton, the three students of Luke Reed’s Words and Music: The Art of Songwriting class will present their creations in a free concert.

Ludie Headrick of Waverly and Carlton Hooper and Millie Burchfield of McEwen are the first songwriting students at The Renaissance Center to be featured in a student showcase.

Under the tutelage of Reed, a professional songwriter for 14 years, the three students have learned a “little methodology,” but Reed said his goal is “more to encourage them to use (songwriting) to express their feelings and what they see going on.”

While Reed’s day job has him teaching agriscience and greenhouse management at both high schools in Dickson County, his songwriting passion has led to his works being recorded by George Strait, Randy Travis, David Ball and Gary Allen, among others.

“I had a real good English teacher in high school, who pushed us to be creative,” Reed says of his pursuit of his songwriting dream. “Plus I have always been interested in music.”

Reed says his class is not necessarily about writing a commercially viable song that will scorch the radio airwaves, but more about getting people to write from the heart.

“I encourage the idea that the songwriter makes his own rules,” Reed says. “There’s an old motto in this business: You can make hundreds of dollars a year in songwriting.”

The showcase will give the students the opportunity to perform their songs they way they want them performed.

Hooper has been writing gospel, country and bluegrass songs for 16 years. He says that he has found through writing and performing his original songs that “music can change your life.”

Burchfield has been writing for 12 years and recently had one of her songs, “American Heroes,” selected to be on the upcoming patriotic CD “Land That I Love,” due in stories this fall.

Headrick has been writing Southern gospel and country songs for the past 30 years and has had songs recorded by independent country artists Beau Davis, Sheila Knight, Carl Edmondson, Chris Story and Jan Beard. “I use my songwriting as a means to express my feelings,” Headrick says.

Appearing as a special guest on stage with the students, Newton is riding high on the success of David Ball’s latest album “Amigo,” which Newton produced and co-wrote four of the 13 tracks, including the hit single “Riding with Private Malone.” The new album rejuvenated Ball’s career, which blasted off with his big hit “Thinking Problem.”

Newton built a state-of-the-art digital studio on Nashville’s Music Row in 2000 and formed Wood & I Productions.

The Hampton, Ark., native was honored this spring by his hometown as grand marshal of the 10th annual Hogskin Holidays festival, where he gave a concert and sang the national anthem to kick off the two-day Pro Rodeo.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Newton worked as a sales manager for The Southwestern Company, which sells books. But soon after moving to Nashville in 1976, Newton met Dan Tyler and together they wrote two of country music’s biggest hits, The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Bobbie Sue” and “Twenty Years Ago” for Kenny Rogers, both of which were certified for 1 million performances by BMI.

Newton recorded an album on the Elektra Asylum label, produced by Even Stevens.

Newton went on to write Steve Wariner’s “What I Didn’t Do,” which also saw over 1 million performances, and “I Want Everyone to Cry,” the first top 10 song by Restless Heart.

Newton’s songs have been recorded by Alabama, Ann Murray, Willie Nelson, Gary Stewart, B.J. Thomas, Rita Coolidge, Marty Robbins and many others.

In 1992, he established his own publishing company, Wood Newton Music.

Reed will serve as master of ceremonies for the Aug. 17 concert. His new songwriting class at The Renaissance Center begins Aug. 19 and meets Mondays at 7 p.m. The cost is $90 for the 15-week class.

For more information on the Songwriter’s Showcase or Reed’s class, call (615)740-5545.

The Renaissance Center is located at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

Visit the Events - Concerts and Recitals page for more about musical performances.

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