For a songwriter, there are few things more thrilling than the opportunity to meet his or her favorite songwriters… except maybe spending four days with them, learning what inspires them, being educated about great songwriting from them and getting their priceless feedback!
This summer’s Gaither Songwriting Intensive was the 3rd annual workshop hosted by Gloria, and it may have been the best one yet! Gloria served as both host and a clinician for the weekend, and she gathered a group of her favorite songwriters – each with a unique perspective on the craft of songwriting. This year’s clinicians included Andrew Peterson, Reba and Dony McGuire, Nicole Nordeman, and Buddy Greene. Bill [Gaither] also led a session about marrying great lyrics with great music.
This annual songwriting weekend is part of an effort Bill and Gloria are making to foster a new generation of strong songwriters through education, networking and creating a high standard for the future of gospel music. Hosting it on the grounds of the Gaither Music Company and Gaither Studios offers an especially inspiring atmosphere, since so some of gospel music’s most influential albums and songs have been recorded in those very rooms. (If only those walls could talk!)
From age 16 all the way to age 87, attendees came from a variety of backgrounds, represented a wide array of musical styles, and were all at different places in their songwriting experience. Some were just beginning to learn what it takes to make a great song, while others have been writing for years and simply wanted to sharpen their skills or gain some extra motivation to keep delving deeper into this challenging craft.
There were lively discussions about how much of the songwriting process involves “inspiration” and how much “perspiration” (Not everyone agreed.) Those who have had great songs published tended all believe, however, that regardless of the process, a great song is a gift with which a writer is entrusted… and that writer has a tremendous responsibility to complete the work at the highest possible level. And most of the workshop time was devoted to helping songwriters understand, regardless of their experience level, how to take their songwriting ideas to new heights.
At the end of each day, concerts and large group sessions served as a celebration of great songs and even offered attendees an opportunity to hear songs still in-progress from the clinicians. Then, after all the instruction and discussions were done, the weekend concluded with a beautiful time of worship on Sunday morning. Ultimately the goal of any song honoring our Creator.
The camaraderie developed among the attendees will undoubtedly result in collaborations and, at the very least, a wonderful network of support and encouragement that will last for years to come.