Words & Music: Most people remember when they first heard a song that touched their lives. Now, learn about how the songs were written and the stories behind them in Words & Music: The Showcase for Nashville's Songwriters. Veteran entertainment reporter Harry Chapman sits down with successful songwriters who share their music and their stories, as well as important information and insights for aspiring writers. Words & Music is produced in partnership with the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
(Granville Automatic) Vanessa Olivarez & Elizabeth Elkins:
Granville Automatic is Vanessa Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins. The duo write songs pulled from a shared love of good storytelling, horses, history and war. Granville Automatic is named after a 19th-century typewriter: Vanessa is a collector. With sonic references like Lyle Lovett, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, Granville Automatic has created a quiet and lyrical sound devoted to telling stories from the past. After writing together first in the spring of 2009, the pair has more than 100 songs.
The band's self-titled debut studio album is now available. Recorded at The Station House in Echo Park, Los Angeles, with producer Ted Russell Kamp, the record features 11 songs including "Comanche" (about the horse who survived the Battle of Little Big Horn), "Hazel Creek" (about a town flooded when the TVA built Fontana Dam), "Blood and Gold" (the story of the mustang), "The Groundskeeper" (about a Civil War ghost seen at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee), "Flying Mercury" (about the 19th-century Pepin & Breschard Circus), "Carolina Amen" (about a solider lost in the Civil War battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse), "Copenhill" (about Sherman's burning of Atlanta) and "Shores of Maryland" – as well as live favorites "Never On A Sunday," "Tacoma Coal Line" and "Don't Come to Tennessee." The studio band included Kamp on bass, drummer Jim Doyle, guitarist/pedal steel player John Schreffler, Jr. and Bethany Dick-Olds on fiddle and vocals. Legendary harmonica player Mickey Raphael also joined in.
Also look for the iTunes exclusive Live from Sun Studio, an eight-song set recorded live at Memphis' historic Sun Studio and released in 2012.
The band has appeared on the PBS television programs Sun Studio Sessions and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour - as well as Nashville Public Radio's Live at the Bluebird Café (their photograph now hangs on the wall at the famous venue).
Chosen as the 2012 Composers in Residence at Seaside, Florida's prestigious Escape to Create program, the pair spent a month in residence there, writing An Army Without Music: Civil War Stories from Hallowed Ground. The new material premiered to a capacity crowd at the Seaside Repertory Theater. Those songs will become the duo's third album, a double album: one disc of songs recorded live on battle sites across the country, and the other disc offering full-band studio versions of the songs. The pair has partnered with the Civil War Trust for the live recordings, which are on-going in 2013. For more information on this project, visit www.granvilleautomatic.com/civilwar.
The girls are also currently writing their fourth album, Dancing at El Mercado - a collection of songs inspired by Texas and Vanessa's childhood in the Lone Star State.
Granville Automatic averages more than 250 tour dates a year. The duo has played at Hotel Café in Los Angeles, the Tin Angel and World Café Live in Philadelphia, The Bitter End and The Living Room in New York City, Momo's in Austin, Eddie's Attic in Atlanta and the Bluebird Café in Nashville. They have also showcased at BMI's Acoustic Lounge in Los Angeles and appeared on Nashville's 103 WKDF radio, Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Thacker Mountain Radio and NBC Atlanta's Morning Show.
They have performed at SXSW, the CMA Music Festival, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, the 30A Songwriters Festival and the Key West Songwriters Festival.
The band was a finalist in Mountain Stage's NewSong Contest and a semi-finalist in the Unsigned Only competition. They won third prize in Spin Magazine's Next Great American Road Song contest, made the finals in the Maurice Small Town Sounds competition and USAA's GarageBand Playoff and were in the Top 50 for the Wildflower Performing Songwriter Competition.
Both girls have a history in the music business: Vocalist/songwriter Olivarez wrote and recorded a Top 10 single in Canada, has three cuts on Sugarland records, including a song on their multi-platinum Enjoy the Ride album, and received a Dora nomination for her work in the Toronto production of Hairspray. She was also a finalist on the second season of American Idol.
Guitarist/songwriter Elkins is a Grand Prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest who has showcased at the Billboard/BMI Acoustic Brunch at SXSW, at BMI showcases in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville, and at CMJ. Elkins' songs have appeared on television programs from Smallville to Rescue, Maine, from Jersey Shore to CNN and in the film Mean Girls 2.
Balancing lives between Atlanta and Nashville, the two co-write frequently across the States for other artists – including collaborations with Nashville's top country and pop writers and some of the best pop and urban writers in Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles. A pop song they co-wrote was recently heard on ABC's The Lying Game.
On Words & Music, Granville Automatic performs "Never on a Sunday," "Goodnight House," "Sugarland" and "The Groundskeeper."
Tennessee has long been known throughout the world for its rich musical heritage; talented musicians from across the nation have traveled to Nashville to begin legendary careers that have earned Music City USA a reputation that is unsurpassed in the pantheon of American Music.
One such talented musician is Billy Dean, whose insightful songwriting, clear and distinctive voice, and masterful instrumental gifts have earned him accolades from many awards academies and countless devoted fans.
A native of Quincy, Florida, Billy was raised appreciating the value of music and has a diverse array of musical influences. After attending college on a basketball scholarship, Billy moved to Nashville in 1983 and by 1990 had recorded his first Top 5 Hit "Only Here for A Little While."
Since then, Billy has transcended genres with his unique repertoire earning numerous awards, including: The Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year "Somewhere In My Broken Heart," ACM New Male Vocalist of The Year, BMI Pop Awards, BMI Song Awards, BMI Million Air Plays Award, Country Music Television Rising Star Award, NSAI Song of The Year, and a Grammy for a Country Tribute "Amazing Grace."
Billy's appeal reaches beyond the music world. He has appeared on numerous television shows as well as made-for TV movies, including: Blue Valley Songbird, A Face to Kill For, Lois & Clark, One Life to Live, Diagnosis Murder, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, The Montel Show, and many others.
After twelve albums and eleven Top 10 singles, Billy has founded the publishing company BDMG (Billy Dean Music Group). Billy continues to make contributions to the Country Music world by building brands with music and empowering children, which he does by being a spokesperson for "Averitt Cares for Kids," and Sunkist's "Take A Stand" Program.
In 2012, Billy released his latest album, A Man of Good Fortune. Four years ago, Dean took a break from the recording studio, spending his time developing Billy Dean Music Group and continuing to tour regularly, keeping a connection with fans, both old and new. This hiatus from the studio gave Dean the time to pen many of the songs included on the new album. Dean co-wrote seven of the ten songs included on A Man of Good Fortune.
"Music has deeply enriched my life," notes Dean. "My fans have waited patiently for this new release because they know this one is for them. It's because of my fans and their support that I've spent most of my life on a musical journey and that's why I truly feel like 'A Man of Good Fortune.'"
Dean adds, "I owe a great deal of gratitude to my manager, Ron Rainey, for giving this new music a home at his label, Rainman Records. I hope it will be worth the wait."
For more information on Billy Dean, visit www.billydean.com.
On Words & Music Billy performs "Somewhere in My Broken Heart," "Billy the Kid," "Real Things" and "All the Difference in the World."
The show airs at the following times: