Jessica Single, Dog Days and the New CD

My phone rang last night, and when I picked it up, I heard the voice of my good friend and co-writer Rachel Proctor on the other end.

“Have you heard?” she said.

“Heard what?” I said, bewildered.

“We got the first Jessica Simpson single!!!!!!”

I screamed.  I mean SCREAMED.  So loud that the dog ran and hid under the bed.

Rachel and I have had three songs recorded by Jessica for her new country record, set for release on RCA’s Columbia Nashville label – two of which we wrote with Jessica – but we had no idea one of our songs would be her first radio single.  As many of you probably know, only a couple of songs per record are selected to be played on the radio as singles.  That’s where we make most of our income as songwriters, but the competition for those slots are tough and many writers never get that opportunity.  This song is scheduled for release in mid-June, and after hearing some of the record in advance, I really believe that Jessica is going to be HUGE in the country market.  Her voice suits the genre perfectly, so hopefully country radio will welcome her with open arms.  She deserves to be treated with some respect for a change.  After meeting her, I have to admit I feel a bit defensive on her behalf, especially when I’m standing in line at the grocery store counter and looking at some of the ridiculous tabloid headlines about her.  I don’t know how she stands it.  It’s gotta be tough.

Rachel and I are also currently in the process of writing a book to go with our song “Remember That”, which Jessica has also recorded for her project.  The book, like the song, will encourage women to leave abusive relationships by sharing the stories of those of us who have experienced physical or emotional abuse in the past and have found the strength to walk away from it.  It hasn’t been easy to write – it has brought up some very tough memories for both of us – but we really believe that it will be an important opportunity to share strength with those who might need it most.

On top of that, Rachel and I have been performing full band sets along with our co-writer Bruce Wallace in a monthly benefit show for Nashville’s Camp Chaos Dog Rescue, a local grassroots organization which is a passion of ours.  We’re calling the series “Dog Days of Summer”, and we just had our second show which also featured a set by Mercury artist Julie Roberts.  It was a lot of fun to see and hear Julie perform her hits, along with one of the songs she and Rachel and I wrote together (“Mama Said Don’t”, which has been posted on her MySpace page: www.myspace.com/julieroberts).  I had a great time closing out the night with some new songs in my set.

As for my CD, it looks like I’ll be working with a major Canadian manager for the release of my new project early next year.  Work is still underway on it, and I just had a fantastic photo shoot for the cover with Nashville’s Juan Pont Lezica.  Juan has done most of the famous promotional photos for Keith Urban and Jennifer Hanson, and he and his wife (a stylist) did a beautiful job making me look like a rock star.  Stay tuned – I’m keeping most of them under my belt for now, but I’ll be putting a few up on my site soon.

Putting together your own CD without the funding of a major record label is not a cheap undertaking.  There are a LOT of upfront costs, and I’ve spent more than a few sleepless nights trying to figure out how to fund this new project and get it out there to the public.  There are musicians to pay, studios to rent, hours and hours of bills for mixing and mastering, photo sessions, graphic design, and replication fees – and that’s before the videos, radio promotion and touring bills start coming in.  But the universe has a funny way of providing things for you when you need them most.  A few weeks ago, I replaced my friend Tia Sillers (who was down for the count with bronchitis) in a performance at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe…and after the show, a man came up from the audience out of the blue and offered to sponsor my project!  So thank you Donny Lassetter and the Thornton Steel Co. Inc. for your kind and selfless help!  I can’t wait to share the final product with you!

Well, I’ve got a big weekend ahead…my good friends Lisa Brokop and Paul Jefferson are getting married on Sunday, and Mary Sue Englund and I wrote a song for them, so we’ll be singing it during the ceremony along with our buddy Tania Hancheroff.  And then Rachel Proctor and I are heading up to Toronto next week to perform together in the gala headliners’ show for the Tin Pan North Festival, so I guess I’d better get packing!

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