Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Video Chat with Sandy Carroll

The book I am writing has a core cast of seven, six of my cowriters and me. I am in the process of Zooming short video chats with each to make my job easier. I can refer back to them when I am writing. This morning’s with Sandy was great – once we got past the first five minutes. We are so relaxed that seconds after telling her I was going to begin the recording, I drifted off into definitely woman to woman “girl” talk. Her feedback helped me, but it is not something I want to share with the world. I did trim those first four minutes. The next minute I have wandered off and am talking to Sandy off-camera. I left it because I laughed and hope someone else does. We can all always use a laugh.

The chats are more about Muscle Shoals than I expected. Sandy has memories of Muscle Shoals in the years I was teaching and out of music that I do not have. From 1997 to 2001, Jerry McGee and Mickey Buckins hosted a weekly writers night at the local Holiday Inn in Sheffield. I am realizing that Muscle Shoals songwriting history is not as well known as the recording history. Also, as good of friends as we are, I did not know her life story before we met. These chats are unearthing some unexpected treasures.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed talking. You may want to fast forward past that first minute or so – unless you want to hear two friends randomly talking.

Sandy Carroll and Stephanie C Brown chat about life, songwriting, and Muscle Shoals
Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Mark Narmore and Stephanie C Brown on life, Songwriting, and Muscle Shoals

Mark Narmore and I chatted this morning since he is one of the seven characters in the book I am writing. Mark is one of my cowriters, but I did not know some of what he shared.

(I was not in a rocking chair though it looks as if I were. Learning curve. I knew I would talk with my hands.)

Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Seasoned Songwriters’ Advice

Covid has changed my life. If not for Zoom, my calendar would be blank. The number of songwriting sessions is about the same as pre-Covid though now they are all Zoom and shorter with no soup and moving around in the house and yard. Song demos have definitely changed with musicians, songwriters, engineers, and invited guests no longer at the same studio creating music. Live songwriting and demos are what I miss most – other than being with family. I do not have as much feeding my energy, and I have more “free” time.

I have found two new things to occupy my time and feed my enregy – working on this blog and writing a book. I like changes and challenges . The learning curves on both have certainly given me those. I am settling into this blog. I like the look so see no need to keep changing that, and posts are easier to write now. The book? That is my big challenge. Structure is hard for me, but a book demands it. My writing has to bump up a bit.

The hardest thing so far has been deciding the subject of my book. Some suggest my life story, or at least a tellling or retelling of my experiences in music. I do not want to write either. They are much too personal with a lot of pain in both. The first subject I chose was very detached. That did not work. Then I found what works for me. My working title is Advise from Seasoned Songwriters Still in the Trenches. I will tweak that. My cowriters and music friends do not know yet they will be in the book.

The book will be available on this blog as will first drafts of some chapters. I have created yet another catagory – Advise from Seasoned Songwriters. Some of the posts will be the regular Wednesdays and Saturday posts, but some will be random.

What do you think? Leave me a comment.

Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

“Let Me Slip Into Something That Feels Good”

The video is a song from 1971. Jimmy English and I wrote the song. Thirty-nine years ago.

Have you ever unexpectely found something from thirty-nine years in your past? Something that was a vague memory. If you are under forty-five, just imagine. Over the years I had not forgetten about the song, but I had forgotten the name of the band, the lyrics, the melody, even that great album cover. The song was an abum cut, never a radio song, so I would be surprised is many people remember it.

Last week while working on another post about some of my songs, I thought about the song. On an off-chance, I searched Googled for what I remembered, “white and something that feels good”. Finding old songs on the internet is not unusual, but finding one of my songs from so long ago on YouTube surprised me.

Little details of that time are now fresh. English and I were writers at the legendary Fame studios writing to please Rick Hall and Walt Aldridge. The song was on Mercury Records with Peter Lubin producing. I was writing about a woman changing into more comfortable clothes. I am not sure anyone thinks of clothes when listening. The band changed the title from “Let Me Slip Into Something More Comfortable”.

Rock ‘ Roll never dies.

Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Songwriting With the Best

What a great writing session I had today with Mark Narmore and Will McFarlane. We love the song we wrote, but more important we loved writing it. Gone, at least for now, are the days of being in the same room with coffee, chocolate, and soup, but even in a Zoom room today, we connected as old friends. Will and I go back to the seventies in Muscle Shoals music, Mark to the eighties. We have been a part of the Muscle Shoals music community so long we feel like family.

Watch this video, and then tell me I am not lucky,

Now read about Mark Narmore.

“Mark was raised and still resides in Center Star, Alabama, 
in the shadow of the music mecca of Muscle Shoals.
He grew up loving and emulating the sounds from those 
Shoals studios and has had a 33 year career as a 
songwriter. He graduated from Brooks High in 1983, then 
attended the University Of North Alabama where he
received a degree in commercial music in 1988.
Mark also worked locally as a radio announcer.
With over 80 cuts to his credit, he has had songs recorded 
by Josh Turner, Brandy Clark, Reba,  Alabama, John Michael Montgomery, Shenandoah, 
Blackhawk, Terri Clark, Craig Morgan and many others. 
His song “That’s What I Love About Sunday” was the most
performed song at country radio in 2005 according to 
Billboard magazine and spent five weeks at number one. Also it
was the #8 Billboard country song of the 2000’s decade, and achieved
gold sales status.
His first cut was on the Shoals supergroup Shenandoah–
the solely penned “Moon Over Georgia” became a top five hit nationally. 
Mark was also co-writer along with Walt Aldridge on the 
number two country hit by Blackhawk, “Like There Ain’t No 
Yesterday”. Mark was awarded a bronze star for his musical 
achievements which is on permanent display in the lobby of the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame.
His songs have appeared on nine gold or platinum albums. Mark has been a staff songwriter for FAME, Jody Williams Music, Reba McEntire’s Starstruck Music Group, March Music, Sony ATV Tree and currently for Noble Vision Music Group in Nashville.Mark has had 14 songs co-written with and recorded by Josh Turner.
In 2016, Mark appeared as a songwriter on records by Brandy Clark and Shenandoah respectively that were nominated for both Grammy and Dove awards.”

Yes, I am writing songs with the best.

I recorded our session today. When I do some editing so I can share just a clip, I will.

Posted in Interviews and Videos, Muscle Shoals Music, Stephanie C Brown - Songwriter and Catalyst

Paul Leslie Interviewed Me

Who would have thought I could have stage fright during a phone call? I thank Paul Leslie first of all for wanting to interview me and then for keeping me talking even though my voice was shaky.

This interview covers more ground and answers more questions than this blog can in years.

Paul Leslie Hour – Episode446 – Stephanie C Brown Interview

Posted in Muscle Shoals Music

The Power of Music

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” Bono

“It was the moment I realized what music can do to people, how it can make you hurt and feel so good all at once.” Nina LaCour

“Can a mere song change a people’s minds? I doubt that it is so. But a song can infiltrate your heart and the heart can change your mind.” Elvis Costello

“Music is a social glue that clearly enhances our mental well being.” Alan Harvey

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Victor Hugo

“The ’60s was one of the first times the power of music was used by a generation to bind them together.” Neil Young

The drive to share music is strong; so fear not, music is alive and well, even if you can not be surrounded by it as easily as you once could. Songwriters, musicians, artists are creating. Music always finds a way.

As for my circle of creative people, we may be nostalgic and sad at times, but we are following our energy and trusting.

Creators are great with change. In fact, you might say they influence it.

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Posted in Journal, Muscle Shoals Music

What Options Are Open?

Before this pandemic, I was active in the Muscle Shoals music community and felt good about my contributions. I organized and hosted shows – big and small. My living room was the chosen place for writing songs with my close circle of cowriters. A hug at my door, good coffee, and soup for lunch were expected. We wrote what we call the song in the room. Those sessions flowed.

I wrote two or three times a week. Now I know those sessions were precious gifts. I miss those cowriting sessions so much. I miss the little things like handing someone a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup, seeing their smiles, and hearing them comment about how good. I miss our deep sharing of our experiences and philosophies. I miss the spontaneous laughter. Oh, how I miss that. I miss the sound of guitars and keyboards and my cowriters’ voices. I miss them all so much that unexpectedly , I am close to tears.

Then there were the Soup and Songs gatherings at my house with my music and other friends. One time I had reached out to young writers that I did not know personally. I greeted one person at the door with, “And you would be? ” One of my goals was to be sure no one knew everyone. How long before we feel the magic of being together again?

I miss the invitation only Circle of Friends Song Circles that I hosted. I miss it all, the planning, the promoting, and most of all sitting in that circle of twenty or so listening to songs. I miss the break with everyone talking so much that someone with a louder voice than I had to get everyone back in their seats for the second round. I miss the more formal Soup and Song Symposiums that I cohosted.

I miss our demo sessions. Our sessions with songwriters, musicians, engineers and soup at East Avalon studio are hard to describe. For some things, words are not enough

We carry on with Zoom the best we can with cowriting, Song Circle, Thursday morning Circle Round Coffee, and with Facebook private groups.

Muscle Shoals music community is close. We miss each other. I ask myself what now, what I can I do to keep what we have and help it grow? How can I be inclusive and help maintain and deepen our connections. I do not know exactly how, but this blog is part of the answer.

Please, leave comments. Ask me questions. We all need interaction. Let us be community.

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