Emily Weisband’s Songwriting Evolution
For MusicRow’s newly-released 2017 Publisher Issue, we spoke with ASCAP songwriter Emily Weisband about her success and career development. For more on Weisband, purchase MusicRow’s 2017 Publisher print issue, or subscribe to MusicRow here.
Though still a relative newcomer in Nashville’s writing circles, THiS Music and Warner/Chappell writer Emily Weisband has already earned accolades eluding songwriters twice her age. This year, the Virginia native earned her first Grammy for Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song, as well as her first Dove Award nomination and MusicRow Award nomination.
Each of the accolades are for “Thy Will,” a track she co-wrote with Bernie Herms and Lady Antebellum member Hillary Scott, which Scott recorded for her family Christian/gospel album Love Remains.
“If I’m being honest, I was going through a hard time in my life. I didn’t feel a lot when we were writing that song,” Weisband candidly recalls of the writing session. “I wasn’t like the prized choice for writing a song like that. But the song, it’s just about dying to the situation. We just wanted to put a conversation you would have with God into music.
“It was cool, it was like a big thing to start the beginning of my career,” Weisband continues. “It felt like God saying, ‘Your career is going to be about me, no matter what kind of songs you write. I’m stamping this at the beginning of your career so you will always remember no matter what success you get that it came from me.’”
A lover of music since she was a child, Weisband has been writing songs since she was 11. What began as a hobby that allowed her to connect with her paternal father soon took hold, becoming her passion and ambition.
“The thing my father and I had was songwriting. I would come and write for an hour or two after school every day.”
Weisband studied songwriting at Nashville’s Belmont University, and landed a hybrid internship-songwriting deal with THiS Music’s Rusty Gaston. After she graduated, she officially became a full-fledged staff writer at the company.
Though Weisband grew up surrounded by the sounds of CCM and pop-punk music, she credits her songwriting peers in Nashville with maturing her own approach to writing.
“Growing up, I was kind of under the childish impression that if I was a Christian I could only write Christian songs. They were super cheesy and super bad but then I started experiencing more life,” she says. “Why can’t God be in a conversation about sex or love or heartbreak?”
Like many of her songwriter contemporaries in the under-30 set, no musical influence or genre is off-limits, and Weisband eagerly embraces inspiration in all its forms. She co-wrote Danielle Bradbery’s light-hearted single “Sway,” as well as “Gateway Love,” a track on Thomas Rhett’s new album. She has more CCM cuts, including “Stronger Than We Think,” which appears on Danny Gokey’s Rise album.
Through her journey writing songs with and for other singer-songwriters, Weisband began writing songs she says, “I can’t hear anybody else but me sing.” She has spent much time in Los Angeles recently, recording her own pop album with Twenty One Pilots producer Mike Elizondo.
“Two years ago I had no aspirations to be an artist,” she says of her organic shift from writer to artist-writer. “I was given three opportunities in the span of one week to make a record, and each offer was in a different genre—country, Christian and pop. The things I wanted to say would really only be accepted in a pop format, in a sense. There are some subject matters I found myself writing about that country radio probably wouldn’t dig and Christian radio definitely wouldn’t dig. It’s really not even a genre thing, the music just happens to sound more pop than anything else.”
As of now, there are no label plans in place for the album. “I don’t know what will happen or if anyone will even hear it.”
Regardless, Weisband considers herself first and foremost a songwriter, whether she is penning songs for other artists to interpret, or songs for her own album.
“I’m grateful to be a writer. I love standing in an arena and hearing people sing along to a song I wrote and nobody knows that I wrote it. It’s like my little secret. I love that feeling.”
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