Everybody Has a Song - Glover Group Entertainment

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Everybody Has a Song - Glover Group Entertainment
“Musicians are constantly trying to
tell a story about life, truth, and love,
in a three- to five-minute time zone.
Brands and corporations are doing
the same things.”
“Things like the hook—every
corporation has to have a
catch phrase that sells their
brand. That’s what a song
does, always leading the
message to the hook.”
from left to right:
Anna Wilson
Monty Powell
Billy Dean
Everybody Has a Song—
Even Corporate America
by Sherry Stinson
Take a sweep through Billboard’s music charts and you’ll most likely
find today’s hits are, quite frankly, the same as yesterday’s — songs
about love, pain and the whole crazy thing to borrow a phrase from
Keith Urban. Who would know that better than megahitmaker
Monty Powell, who has been called Urban’s right hand man when it
comes to penning those common feelings into memorable hit songs?
Monty’s discography is longer than Santa’s Christmas list, his songs
gracing more than 50 million albums. In addition to his enormous
songwriting talent, he produces and manages other talent, and along
with partners, Billy Dean and Anna Wilson, has created yet another
masterpiece. Song Sessions is a songwriting seminar for corporate
America that uses the brilliant talent of the three celebrated artists to
craft a unique company story one note at a time using a company’s
greatest hidden asset — the creativity of its own people.
Enter Billy Dean, literally, who has just arrived for the interview
his very tall frame accommodating the door frame at Anna and
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Monty’s home in Green Hills. His musical talent finally outstretched
his famous height and propensity for a basketball court with the
‘90s ”Somewhere in my Broken Heart” and “Only Here for a Little
While” to the later well known anthem “Thank God I’m a Country
Boy.” That along with several made for TV movies complement his
12 albums and 11 Top 10 singles. Dean’s career of late had stretched
yet again into the corporate realm where he found himself writing
product jingles not knowing that eventually that experience would
end up as one of the cornerstones for Song Sessions.
Add to the mix the spicy influences of Anna Wilson’s jazz sound
and classical training and the temperature in the room just got
hotter. Anna’s two jazz albums saw critical acclaim and top chart
positions on Billboard. She’s co-written hits for Suzzy Boggus, Chuck
Wick, Reba and Brooks and Dunn to name only a few, as well as
music for the film industry, television and other corporations. So
with all these roads intersecting and running through Musicville
to corporate America, it was only a matter of time,
perhaps, for the three creative giants to spy the
proverbial bean pole. It was actually during a touring
series of “Bluebird style” song sessions along the
west coast that the creative wheels became a paper
and pencil in Monty’s hands and a curriculum for
corporate America to “find its song.”
“Everyone gets the entertainment value of what
we do,” explains Monty. “We export songs as a
finished process. But one thing we’ve never exported
is how we actually do it. We realized the process
of what we do day in and day out is a real learning
vehicle.”
From that organic model and collective experience, explains Anna, Song Sessions was conceived.
“It was something we were already doing and we just
stepped in and created a product with a package.”
Creativity and Corporate America? Really?
“What we have in common,” explains Billy, “is
musicians are constantly trying to tell a story in the
most condensed fashion possible. We work with a
three to five minute time zone to tell a story about
life, truth, and love, and brands and corporations
are doing a lot of the same things. A CD is no different than an orange, can of beans or a Dr. Pepper.
The techniques we use to condense the stories into
songs dovetail nicely into the same types of messaging in corporations. We found the two worlds come
together quite well.”
“Things like the hook,” continues Anna. “Every
corporation has to have a catch phrase that sells their
brand in a very short snippet. That’s what a song
does, always leading the message to the hook.”
A Song Session workshop looks something like
this. The three artists break the company employees
into small groups, and using Monty’s curriculum
based on the creative principles of songwriting,
they teach idea generation, imagery, marketing, and
creative unblocking. Then they begin the process of
generating ideas about corporate identity through a
word lexicon.
“The lexicon becomes lines and then they start
to rhyme and in that time everyone participates as a
songwriter and storyteller,” says Monty. The group
reassembles after lunch and using the lines gathered
from all the small group work, the three professionals begin in real time, in cooperation and collaboration with the group, to write an original song, “starting from an unstrummed guitar and a blank piece of
paper,” muses Monty.
The first point to note of this somewhat courageous exercise is that Billy, Anna and Monty step into
corporate America to uncover right brained activity
from a highly trained left brained audience and environment. The end result, they all agree, is magic.
Billy recounts a story of how during one Song
Session everyone was writing snippets about hardware and computer chips and the shyest woman
in the group transcended the cubicle mentality and
came up with the title to the company song, “We
Make Distance Disappear.” Another fond memory,
he says, is when a guitar company CEO, who had
laid down his guitar to run the business, reconnected with his passion for music and playing the
guitar after 15 years of corporate sidesteps. “This guy
strapped on the guitar and took over the stage. He
hadn’t done that in years. You know music is powerful and fun,” observes Billy.
www.nashvilleartsandentertainment.com
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The group brainstorms together
with the audience to write lyrics
Monty Powell
“The professionals at this craft will tell you there’s
gift and craft. What we try to do is match our craft
to the gift side to communicate a story from this
really high calling. You can learn these techniques.”
Permission to create in a non-threatening
environment is elemental to the inward process of
finding the corporate song through a company’s
authentic voice — its people, and one of the unique
features of Song Sessions. Songwriting, they maintain, is a nurturing processes and once taken into
the corporate arena, it gives “permission to get out
of corporate city and start talking about what really
matters to them as people and ultimately as a company,” explains Billy. “This curriculum empowers
people. You’re not going to be judged or embarrassed by throwing your ideas out there. By stepping up you might have the missing ingredient.”
“It is a structure,” explains Monty. “The professionals at this craft, and craft is a key word, will
tell you there’s gift and craft. What we try to do
is match our craft, which we have grown to the
highest professional levels, to the gift side of that, to
communicate a story from this really high calling—
from the craft side of how you do it. You can learn
these techniques.”
The second point to note is taking the creative
plunge with usually blocked right brained people
and writing a song in real time, on stage, with a
limited amount of time could be well, frankly,
hazardous to a professional reputation.
“We walk the edge of a knife blade,’ laughs
Monty, who explains it is important for the audi-
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ence to see that creating can be imperfect, messy,
and full of potholes, even for them.
“They get to see us hit several creative walls
and also to see how quickly we get around it,”
observes Billy.
Perhaps, one of the greatest values of Song Sessions is skill and lessons learned get applied like
an Eckert Tolle message — in the now. “We do
the curriculum on the front part of the seminar,”
explains Anna. “But when it comes to the actual
writing of the song in the afternoon we point out,
‘ok that is this skill we talked about earlier.’ We
teach it in real time.”
“They see us be persistent in real time,” adds
Monty “ We problem solve in the moment, without
panic, without judgment, always moving toward
a higher idea or concept. That’s also an every day
skill, whether in sports, life, or relationships—and
we communicate it. That’s what we are teaching.”
Tamar Eckles, vice president of learning and
development at Qualcomm, said they were looking
for a unique corporate experience to promote teambuilding and collaboration for their high technology
wireless company when they choose Song Sessions.
She agrees that the process of songwriting brought
out the collective strengths and creative thinking
from the participants and “that it definitely defines
who we are from the perspective of the participants.”
And as Monty points out, “It’s very clear at the
end of the session that they did not watch us write
a song, but that we collaborated and did something together.”
After the song is finished, explains Anna, its jam
time. “After the educational portion of the workshop, we’ll do a traditional Nashville Bluebird style
in the round. It’s an entertaining show and they can
just relax. Then if they choose, we have a rock ‘n
roll jam session. Its very experiential and they can
get up and shake a tambourine and be on stage and
release their inner rock star,” she laughs.
“Song Sessions is an entire experience. It’s
educational, team building and entertaining,”
Monty summarizes.
“We replace the motivational speaker, entertainment and educational component in one place
surrounded by one experience,” says Anna. “We are
having a party together all day that involves learning, music, entertainment, fun and education. We
are one stop shopping.”
And what do the three artists take from the
experience?
“Well I’m glad some of these people didn’t come
to Nashville,” laughs Billy. “Some of them are real
good.”
For more information regarding Song Sessions,
call 615-429-9689 
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