The Country Music Association visited Chicago on Tuesday (July 24) with Illinois native Brett Eldredge and fellow songwriters Ross Copperman, Tom Douglas, Heather Morgan and Jordan Reynolds, joining the CMA Foundation and U.S. Bank to visit students at Chicago’s Notes for Notes studio followed by a sold-out CMA Songwriters Series Presented by U.S. Bank performance at Joe’s on Weed Street.
Chicago’s Notes for Notes studio welcomed attendees with three performances by student musicians Ifeanyi Elswith, Devon Fields and Armoni Taffe. The songwriters then joined students to assemble and paint guitars and ukulele kits as well as create percussion instruments from recycled materials, participate in a songwriting session where students had the chance to ask the songwriters for tips in writing and producing songs, and finally jump into the recording/mixing room where students created a track. Copperman and Douglas also recorded a podcast episode at WN4N Radio with students during the visit.
During the songwriting session, the five songwriters spoke about their inspirations and their writing processes. Douglas revealed that he writes with a special pencil, the same brand and style that author John Steinbeck wrote with. Copperman explained that connecting with the listener and writing about things they do is the best way to write a hit song. Reynolds agreed with students that establishing character and a point of view is essential in songwriting. Eldredge said he cried in the studio a few days prior because a line someone had written was so powerful and reminded him of his family. And Morgan said she used to sing her little sister to sleep, extending the songs she knew or making up new ones before she learned to play guitar and began writing more.
In 2017, the CMA Foundation partnered with Notes for Notes to help fund studios across the country and allow the studio spaces to operate freely each year. As part of U.S. Bank’s Community Possible giving platform and its Places to Play partnership along with the CMA Foundation, both entities presented a combined $75,000 in funding to Chicago’s Notes for Notes studio during the visit, which will sustain operational costs for the remainder of 2018. To date, the CMA Foundation has funded nearly $2 million with the Notes for Notes organization in 13 state-of-the-art recording studios nationwide, serving 4,400 total youth around the country.
Following the Notes for Notes studio visit, the five songwriters hit Joe’s on Weed Street for a sold-out CMA Songwriters Series Presented by U.S. Bank show. Eager and excited fans lined up outside the venue early and were treated to performances of songs including “Beat of the Music,” “Tequila,” “Lose My Mind,” “Woman, Amen,” and “The House That Built Me.” The night was special for Eldredge, who explained to the crowd Joe’s on Weed Street was where he got his start back in 2011. After Morgan performed “Haven’t Met You Yet,” Eldredge gushed, calling her an angel. Douglas shared that “The House That Built Me” was a song he had tried to write for seven years, which went on to receive “Song of the Year” at the CMA Awards in 2010. All of the songwriters have written with Eldredge, as Reynolds expressed what an honor it was to write with Eldredge.
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