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Each year, Nashville enjoys a very special week of club-hopping to hear the best original songs and music that the talented members of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) have to offer. From the legendary Bluebird Café to the Ford Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame, every hip location in Nashville opens its doors for some serious rockin’ with major artists and songwriters. This year’s lineup included Pam Tillis, Charlie Daniels, Lisa Loeb, Chalee Tennison, Art Garfunkel, David Ball, and many influential songwriters that have written hits for country, pop, rock, and adult contemporary artists. What event could bring all these genres and musicians together? Only Tin Pan South, of course!

The Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, named for New York’s mythical Tin Pan Alley, is one of Nashville’s most low-key, musically inspiring signature events. The festival celebrates great songwriting with more than 70 shows in 5 days. It’s a whirlwind of incredible music and excitement!

Beyond the excitement of Tin Pan South, NSAI serves as an organization devoted to standing up for the rights of songwriters everywhere. It all began in 1967 when a dozen songwriters banded together to fight for respect and financial compensation for songwriters. Since then Nashville Songwriters Association International has become a leader in campaigning and lobbying for artists’ rights. It is the world’s largest non-profit songwriters’ trade organization, serving nearly 5,000 amateur and professional songwriters. This year, it marks its 35th anniversary.

NSAI also helps promotes awareness of songwriters’ cultural contributions and helps develop the abilities of aspiring songwriters, along with assisting in their legal pursuits. The group started from the ground up. In fact, the founding members had no idea how to start an organization, so they turned to Mary Reeves’ “The Rules of Golf” for NSAI’s first set of by-laws.

“Songwriting is a lot of trouble. It’s 57 years later and I’m still coming to Nashville to talk about songs,” mused Danny Dill at a recent anniversary celebration that included Marijon Wilkin. "We just wanted to see our name on the ‘vinyl’. When we decided to organize it scared the people on music row to death," she said.

The legendary Mac Davis was also there. Davis’ song “A Little Less Conversation,” written 30 years ago, was recently heard on the “Oceans 11” soundtrack. It was then re-released on Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 hits album in 2002 and reached #1 on the U.K. pop charts. Finally, NIKE picked the song for its recent advertising blitz, and Davis made a fortune from the song, proving the value of holding on to your copyright. / Issue 32 - September 2018
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