The triumph and tragedies of middle school and high school certainly provide plenty of material for songwriting. But learning how to craft your thoughts and feelings into a song to be performed in front of a room full of strangers is no easy feat. That's where Girls Write Nashville comes in.
The program, started by musicians Georgia English and Jen Starsinic, pairs Davidson County girls from ages 7 to 17 with professional female artist mentors. From January to June, program participants work with their mentors, learning how to create, perform and produce their own music. The program culminates in a public CD release party, during which the participants perform the songs they wrote for a compilation album recorded at Nashville's The Sound Emporium.
The first season of Girl's Write Nashville, a 501(c)(3) pending non-profit, was funded by a grant from the Metro Arts Commission and fully embraced by both the participants and the mentors.
Jen Starsinic said songwriting is a helpful tool to process emotions, particularly for those who may not have an outlet for expressing what they're feeling.
"Just from songwriting and what it is, I think there's a lot of therapeutic benefits for any person. Whether it be writing songs, stories, journaling -- that's pretty proven to be a powerful tool as far as emotional processing. The act of singing and writing out your feelings and then singing them for people is a really powerful way to express yourself," Starsinic told Wide Open Country. "It's a little bit removed from just (saying) 'Hi stranger, I'm going to tell you all about myself and everything that I'm feeling.' That feels pretty intense and is not something you'd do. But to be able to craft something from yourself and then be able to perform it -- it's super powerful."
Girls Write Nashville provides a support system for the budding songwriters, teaching them stage presence, what to do when they forget lyrics and how to manage stage fright. Starsinic says sometimes the most comforting aspect for participants is the knowledge that even professional musicians experience the same fears.
"It's like 'Look, all of us are scared all of the time'," Starsinic says, laughing. "'That's fine!'"
The Girls Write Nashville CD release party will be held on July 7 at 1:30 p.m at The Local in Nashville. The event is free. Every attendee who gives a donation within their means will be given a copy of the Girls Write Nashville CD.