LAFAYETTE, Ind. − The Songwriters Association of Mid-North Indiana recently hosted a week-long workshop for local musicians and awarded one student a $400 scholarship.
SAMI and the workshop
SAMI was co-founded in 1992 by songwriters Brian Koning, Scott Greeson, Anita Wood and Mark Skidmore. Greeson, who also serves as the president of SAMI, spoke the Journal & Courier about the workshop, SAMI’s history and the Shirley Martin Scholarship.
“We’re an organization dedicated to the education and development of area songwriters and musicians,” Greeson said. “We just have a firm belief that when you help develop local and regional artists, that the community benefits and you have young people that want to go into careers in music. And we’ve seen that happen over 31 years through SAMI and some of the things we offer.”
The week-long workshop, which took place in The Arts Federation’s downstairs recording studio area, focused on both beginner and advanced audio recording with the goal of educated musicians on how to properly record themselves and get their music out there.
“The main goal is to make all of this, no matter what level we’re at or what age we are, better at our craft,” Greeson said. “And I have to say, this is kind of the pinnacle of our 31 years of existence of our organization, because we’re able to bring some of the best of the best, award-winning people here.”
Industry veterans such as vocal and song-writing coach Steven Memel and music consultant and contractor Liz Redwing were able to serve as leaders in the workshop. Redwing has represented music acts such as Tina Turner, Gwen Stefani-led band No Doubt and more.
Shirley Martin Scholarship
SAMI also hosts the annual Shirley Martin Scholarship for Young Songwriters. This year’s winner is 15-year-old Tipton student Madison Conner, who won for her song, “From Me Now.”
Conner spoke with the J&C about her decision to enter the scholarship competition.
“I had texted one of my friends – she’s very involved in the music industry – like, ‘Hey, I want to get more into the community with my music.’…But she found (the SAMI workshop/scholarship) and I was like sure why not, I’ll give it a try. (The song I submitted for the scholarship) is called ‘From Me Now.’
“If anything, it’s like a letter to all of the girls that are younger. Middle school was a struggle for me, high school school is a struggle for me now. But there were things when I was in middle school where I had no older girls…to tell me all these things I wish I would have known…When I write songs, I’m very honest. For me, I can’t write a song if i can’t relate (to it).”
Conner won a $400 check and time in the recording studio to have her song produced.
“When I learned I won, it was like, ‘Wow, is this song gonna come to life?’ Because it’s so different from writing it. And then when you put other instrumentals into it, it sounds completely different.”
“From Me Now” is not currently available for the public to stream or download, but progress is being made on its production.
Conner stated that her future career goals are uncertain, as she wants to eventually start a family and potentially go into cosmetology, but she always wants to keep songwriting as an active part in her life.
Scholarship leads to a promising career
When she was 15, now 19-year-old Lafayette-native Lauren Grace won the Shirley Martin Scholarship through SAMI. Since then, Grace has had a budding music career.
“At the time, I was taking songwriting lessons…and (my teacher) really encouraged me to sign up for the (scholarship) application,” Grace said. “Because she was very much encouraged in that music community. And so, because of her, I was encouraged to enter. And when I was 14, I won first runner-up. And then I entered again the next year when I was 15 and I won that year.”
Grace said the year she won the Shirley Martin Scholarship, she received a $500 check and critiques from the judges for the scholarship. It were these critiques that inspired her to produce her first song.
“After that, I ended up producing a different song (than I won for) from the encouragement of that opportunity,” Grace said. “(The scholarship) really impacted me as a song writer. It was so encouraging to me. I was so young, and it really just made me so inspired to keep doing what I wanted to do. And getting that scholarship helped me become plugged into this local music community and because of that, I’ve just been so supported and encouraged along the way.
“It has just made an incredible difference in my music career so far.”
Grace’s indie/folk and rock music can be found being performed at farmers markets, the Taste of Tippecanoe and other local events.
While music is not currently her full time job, Grace stated how she would love to eventually transition into music full time.
“I would love to be a full time musician,” Grace said. “I would love to just support myself from playing shows and playing gigs. I love to travel, to do that (for shows). And just gain a following and have a community and audience that can really connect to my music.”
The Journal & Courier asked Grace if she had any advice for prospective singer/songwriters out there.
“If you are writing honest…and personal lyrics, then people are going to pay attention to that,” Grace said. “So just be your authentic self. And connect with other people that do music, because it is almost impossible to do it alone. And having a community or group of people to encourage you and support you in your music makes such a difference.”
To learn more about Grace, visit her website at www.laurengracemusic.com.
Greeson stated that applications for next year’s Shirley Martin Scholarship will soon be available on SAMI’s website, and applications will open in January.
Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.