But opportunities to make those types of connections aren’t just restricted to major music centers. Sometimes similar opportunities can be found in our own back yards.
I learned that the hard way.
When I was working as the editor of a daily newspaper in Lenoir, N.C. I received a story tip about a local boy from our coverage area in Caldwell County whose ambition was to be a country songwriter and artist. Having been a songwriter myself for many years and a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), I knew all too well how tough it was to break into the business. Therefore I wasn’t too optimistic about his dreams of success coming true.
I assigned the feature article to one of my reporters and didn’t take the opportunity to meet the subject of the story or discuss our mutual musical interests.
A few years later, however, our paths did cross again in our small town located in the Western North Carolina foothills. I was being given a tour of an old stone Catholic church that had been converted into a recording studio. A taped song was being played back through the speakers and I asked the studio owner and engineer who was singing on the track. He pointed out a young guy sitting at the soundboard and wearing a baseball cap.
“Nice vocal,” I commented. To which they just nodded, humbly acknowledging the compliment.
Fast-forward about fifteen years and Eric Church, that local kid, has just earned the Entertainer of the Year award by the Academy of Country Music.
I know there was no guarantee that Eric and I would have hit it off, become co-writers, and shared his success but I'll never know.
I squandered any opportunity to form a professional relationship with someone who was just beginning his rise to country stardom because I cynically downplayed his prospects for success. The only thing I have to show for it is an early demo CD that he left way back then and a cautionary tale.