American Songwriter Magazine

2014 Lyric Contest Winner Blair Bodine Discusses Her Co-Write with Ashley Monroe

ashleyandblair

When Ashley Monroe met 2014 lyric contest winner Blair Bodine for her “dream co-write” prize in Nashville, the Warner Brothers recording artist showed up with quite a nugget of inspiration for a new song.

Monroe’s idea came in the form of a phrase that was left on her voicemail by none other than rock and roll legend Neil Young. The message went something to the effect of: “Hey Ashley. It’s Neil. Let’s write together someday. Just meet me towards sunset.”

The phrase, “meet me towards sunset,” a song title if there ever was one, greased the skids for a productive writing session, according to Bodine.

“The co-write with Ashley was one of the most inspiring sessions I’ve ever had,” Bodine said. “She is such a stellar songwriter. I have to admit, I was really nervous going into it, but she immediately put me at ease. The time flew by as we hammered out this tune together. I am still in awe at how quickly the song tumbled out and what a fun time we had.”

Later that day, Bodine played a rough cut of “Meet Me Towards Sunset” off of her phone for the American Songwriter staff, and, appropriately, it had a classic Harvest-era Neil feel to it.

Bodine, a Philadelphia native who now lives in New York after spending several years in Nashville, won the 2014 contest for her song “Lonely Pretty Things,” which you can listen to here. She also had the opportunity to demo a song at Omni Sound Studio as part of her prize package, and chose to cut “Music, How I Talk To God,” with a group of Omni session players. 

NewSong Music

NewSong finalist Blair Bodine will return to Lincoln Center on September 8th, opening for Rachael Kilgour

blair_bodine_by_KateDavisPhoto

NewSong finalist Blair Bodine will return to New York’s Lincoln Center on Thursday, September 8, opening for Rachael Kilgour

Blair Bodine is a New York City-based folk musician with an infectious energy and a true gift for storytelling through song. NewSong Music is excited to welcome this 2015 competition finalist back to the Lincoln Center stage as the opening act for Rachael Kilgour at Kilgour’s album release show on September 8th.

Bodine has a never-ending passion for songwriting that shows up in all areas of her life. In addition to writing and performing her original soul-stirring melodies, Bodine is passionate about music education. A Columbia University graduate, she wrote her thesis on Chinese Ethnomusicology. She currently works for Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, writing curriculum for middle and high school teachers about the history of American popular music. In other words, Bodine isn’t your cookie cutter singer-songwriter — a fact that has earned the songwriter some much-deserved recognition in competitions and festivals across the country.  

While Bodine didn’t take home the first place prize in last year’s competition, she’s still reaping the benefits of her experience with NewSong. She says the chance to perform at Lincoln Center (twice!) is the biggest perk. “Being a NewSong finalist can really help boost your confidence as a performer,” says Bodine. “You are given a great opportunity to play at an epic venue. As an artist, it is a true gift, and it helped propel me forward.”

Photo: Kate Davis Photography

Chestnut Hill Local

Blair Bodine, the country/folk music anti-stereotype

Blair just may be the only prominent country/folk singer in the country with a masters degree from an Ivy League university. (Photo by Kate Davis)(Photos by Kate Davis)

by Len Lear

If there is such a thing as a stereotype of the female country singer, it is a young lady who grew up in a small town or farm in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, etc.; was not much of a student because she was always dreaming of singing about broken hearts in honky tonks and eventually arenas. She left home after high school to seek her fortune in Nashville along with thousands of other hopefuls who wind up waiting on tables as they pursue their almost-hopeless American Idol dreams.

Well, folks, meet Blair Bodine, of Ambler, the complete anti-stereotype of the above except for the fact that she did move to Nashville to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter, did achieve stunning success along with a hatful of awards and just may wind up becoming a household name with a profile in People magazine.

Blair did not grow up singing to cows on the back porch. She graduated from Germantown Academy, then earned a degree from Columbia University in Asian Studies and followed that with a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 (not the usual background for a country singer).

While at GA, Blair sang in musicals and in choir. She began learning guitar at age 13. Her mom, Barbara, her biggest fan, “encouraged me try writing songs as soon as I had learned a few chords. My very first song was written in 7th grade as an alternative to writing a book report. It was about Bob Dylan, naturally.

“My parents had an awesome record collection. Growing up, I remember dancing around the living room (well, more like swaying, wistfully) to the sounds of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and John Prine, etc. When I started writing my own songs, I was really inspired by Dar Williams. She is such a strong, smart writer I’ve always admired.”

Of course, the odds against the young hopefuls who flood Nashville, Hollywood or New York seeking stardom are astronomical, but when Blair moved to Nashville in January, 2011, after finishing her education, her songwriting attracted attention from the cognoscenti almost immediately. In fact, since the release of her first album, “Blair Bodine” (“Very creative, I know”) in 2009, Blair has received multiple awards that recognize both her songwriting and performing abilities.

There is not enough room here to mention every award Blair has received for her music, but here are just a few: 2014 Grand Prize Winner, American Songwriter Magazine Lyric Contest; 2013 Finalist, Smoky Mountain Songwriter Festival; 2012 Winner, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Most Wanted Song Swap; 2011 Regional Finalist for NPR’s Mountain Stage Newsong Contest; 2010 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Finalist; 2009 GRAMMY regional spotlight performer; and “2009 Best New Artist” Award by radio station WSTW 93.7 in Wilmington, Delaware. And Blair, who just played the Tin Angel in Old City on Oct. 9, said she was “thrilled” at just being selected as a finalist for the annual NewSong Contest. She will be performing at Lincoln Center in New York in January.

Blair got hooked on performing when she sang in musicals and in choir at Germantown Academy. The acclaimed songwriter penned her first song in 7th grade as an alternative to writing a book report. (Photo by Kate Davis)

Blair got hooked on performing when she sang in musicals and in choir at Germantown Academy. The acclaimed songwriter penned her first song in 7th grade as an alternative to writing a book report. 

Which award has meant the most to Blair? “I was really humbled and surprised when I won the Grand Prize in the American Songwriter Lyric Contest,” she said. “As songwriters, we spend a lot of time alone, sitting on the corner of the bed, hammering out a song and wondering if it’s any good. That contest really helped me feel connected to a greater community of writers. I interpreted the whole experience as, ‘We hear you. Good work. Now, keep writing.’”

In addition to her performances, Blair worked as Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Nashville Symphony, “which made me feel really connected to the city and its incredible diversity of music … After a while though, I began to hunger for home and my family. It was almost as if a boomerang sensor was suddenly activated. I thought, ‘I’ve got to move back to the Northeast!’”

So last year she moved to New York, where she works for the Rock and Roll Foundation, which promotes education through music. “I research everything from blues to hip-hop,” said Blair, who will be releasing a CD of her new songs soon, “and all the ways in which music has interacted with and influenced society.

“As a result, my ‘day job’ can make me equal parts intimidated and inspired in my own personal songwriting, as I research some of America’s greatest writers, performers and recording artists … I love the storytelling inherent in country music and the tradition imbedded in folk music. Hopefully, I mix these elements into my writing.”

When asked who in her life has inspired her the most, Blair responded, “My parents. They have always encouraged me and my sister to follow our own voice, our own heartbeat. My mom is an educator, and my father owns his own business, restoring antiques and building custom furniture (Bodine Conservations). Together, they’ve taught me the power of creativity, collaboration and love.”

When asked about her your ultimate goal as a musician, Blair said succinctly, “Write songs. Sing them. Share. Repeat.”

Whom would Blair like to meet more than anyone on earth? “President Barack Obama. I’d like to learn about his perspective on current events, but mostly, I’d like to talk about music. He has such an incredible taste in music, it would be fun to hear his thoughts on artists, recordings, etc.”

But even more than Obama, Blair would have loved to meet William Shakespeare. “He was the ultimate songwriter. Hopefully, the entire conversation would have been in iambic pentameter.”

American Songwriter Magazine

May/June 2014 Lyric Contest Spotlight: Blair Bodine

Blair_Bodine_by_Kate_Davis_Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Kate Davis)


“Lonely Pretty Things”
1st Place|
Written by Blair Bodine

When did you write “Lonely Pretty Things?”

It was probably a year and a half ago. It’s a little bit nerdy, but I was at the Frist Center for Visual Arts and I was attending a teacher training session for educators. We were learning about Ekphrastic poetry, which is poetry that’s inspired by art. Basically, our assignment for the afternoon was to walk around the galleries and write a poem that was based on a piece of art. I remember seeing this piece of folk art. It was of this beautiful girl and she was in the corner of the canvas, apart from everyone else in the picture, and I remember thinking, “It must be lonely to be that pretty.” And then the first few lines of the first verse fell out, which is, “I know the loneliness that beauty can bring.”

How long did it take you to write?

It’s kind of frustrating when you hear about people who write these beautiful songs in a handful of minutes. This one came out really quickly, but finishing it took months and months.

How long have you been writing songs?

My mom bought me a guitar for my 13th birthday. She was a songwriter, so I guess the idea was that it would help me write songs. So I started that year, but I didn’t actually give it an honest go and write with regularity and start recording my material until 2009.  It was after I was out of college.

You grew up in Philadelphia. What was the music scene like there?

There is a concentration of folk music in Philadelphia that was exciting to have access to growing up. My favorite radio station was WXPN, and I ended up working for that music nonprofit with a venue called World Café Live. I was able to work right fresh out of grad school in the same building where my favorite radio station growing up was broadcast from. It’s interesting because it’s a northeastern city, but there are definitely folk and Americana influences there.

I’m guessing you moved to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career.

You are guessing correctly.

How have you liked it here?

I moved here three years ago, and I love Nashville. I knew that within the first week that I got here. I felt like I had stumbled upon this gem of a city. I think what’s really great about the town is the sense of community. I’m a part of a song group, and we meet once a week in East Nashville and we get together and workshop each other’s songs and work on lyrics deep into the night and then we break bread together. I refer to it as “songwriter church,” in a way.

The coolest thing about moving to Nashville was that my frequency of writing went through the roof. It used to take me six months to write a song. I think the ones you hold really close to your heart take a long time to craft and perfect. But I never would have been able to write a song in an afternoon before I moved here.

Are you shooting for a career as a performing songwriter? Do you want to write for country radio?

My background is as a performing singer-songwriter, and I think ever since I moved here it’s been really wonderful to develop that capacity for writing and performing. The concept of being a professional songwriter and being able to write for radio, that’s a completely different skill than what I’m trying to build and focus on. And I have this 9 to 5 job which is in the classical music realm, so I’m lucky I get to twirl around in a couple of different worlds, all of them focused on music.

Can you tell me more about your day job?

I work as the director of education and community engagement. My job in and of itself is pretty inspiring. I get to work with schools and nonprofits that are passionate about music education. We serve around 200,000 people a year with concerts and school programs. I was really fortunate growing up. I was able to take music class and sing in choir, and I even took guitar lessons at my school. But I think that if we’re going to have a new generation of songwriters, and music makers, and music lovers, we’ve got to make sure we nourish the arts in our schools.

Is it difficult to write consistently when you’re working a 9 to 5?

That song group I talked about helps a lot. We push each other to try to bring something new every week to the table. The phrase that I say in my head a lot is, “Don’t quit your daydream.” So if you can find ways to compose and be creative in the cracks of your day… it feels very special to come home at night and be able to sit on the couch and write for a few hours and hammer out a song.

Kettle Pot Tracks "On The Hill" Series

Blair Bodine On the Hill Session at Kettle Pot Tracks

Blair  002

Blair is so full of positivity and joy that I’m almost a little jealous: everything she says comes with an honest smile and a considerate ear…but how’s her music?

Well, I’m happy to report that it is equally lovely! She does a fantastic job weaving together interesting, thoughtful narrative with hooks big enough for any stage, in her home base—Nashville—or anywhere else for that matter.

Additionally it must be mentioned that we were touched to be able to see firsthand the loving relationship betwixt Blair and her Mama: Mom stayed for the entire session, and we together enjoyed another hour or more chatting in the back yard about all things family and music!

Enjoy Blair Bodine, and remember to relax your smile muscles every so often… :)

Blair  003

So… When/why/how/where did Blair Bodine get started? That is to say, can you give us a comfortably-abridged bio?

Sure!  For the when: On my 13th birthday, my mom gave me an acoustic guitar. She is a beautiful lyricist and songwriter who really believes in the power of music to uplift and inspire.  I think that comes out in my own songs.  As soon as I learned two chords (what’s up G and Em) I was writing songs.  Albeit repetitive minor songs, but I was hooked!  In terms of why: More than anything I think it’s fun!  Songwriting is creative puzzle-solving at it’s finest.  My sister is writing a novel right now and I have often thought about how lucky I am that my “real estate” is three minutes as opposed to three hundred pages.  In the course of an album, we get to try on all these different emotions, colors, characters, and stories.  When we play live, songwriters have the power to stand and deliver our message and connect with an audience in real time.  I think that’s a real privilege.  And finally, the where: That’s the coolest part about being able to do this session. I was born and raised in Ambler, PA about fifteen minutes from here. I live in Nashville now but I was home for the weekend when we filmed this.  It was a total full circle moment. My mom who encouraged me to write my first song came to this session, and we had a total blast!

Blair  004

Why did you choose these songs for On the Hill?

I’ve been in Nashville around three and a half years. Most of these songs are part of a new recording project I’m finishing up down there. Nashville has a deep-rooted tradition of story songs.  I feel like that has really influenced my voice and writing recently, as you can hear in songs like “Star” and “Sing Out Loud.”  In fact, the first traditional country song I tried to write was composed entirely on a plane between Nashville and Philly.  That could be a good metaphor for my musical style. I’d like to think it’s flying somewhere between Nashville storytelling and Philly soul.

Blair  006

What else is going on in your world? What’s next?

I’m going to finish up this new CD and I am so excited about it!  At the end of the summer, I’ll definitely be doing CD Release shows in Philly, New York, and Nashville. I like to think of release shows as Album Birthday Parties. So yes, there will definitely be cake involved.

Blair  007

Where can we see and hear more of you?

The best place is my Web site: www.blairbodine.com where I’ll announce shows and post videos. I just want to close by saying thank you so much for what you all do.  I love discovering new artists and listening to old friends on your site.  Much love to the Kettle Pot Tracks fam

 

 

Blair  009

American Songwriter Magazine

1st Place Winner, May/June 2014 Contest: “Lonely Pretty Things”

Written by April 3rd, 2014 at 10:59 am

1st Place
“Lonely Pretty Things”
Blair Bodine
Nashville, Tennessee

I know the loneliness beauty can bring
A falling star, a sidewalk flower, a feather floating on the wind
A syncopated melody that others try but they just cannot sing
I know the loneliness beauty can bring

And you, you showed that to me
How lonely pretty things can be

I know how easily things fall apart
The crumbling ledge of promises like bridges falling down between our hearts
One minute you are standing there the next your packing boxes in you car
I know how easily things fall apart

And you, you showed that to me
How easy leaving things can be

I know forgiveness is the grownup thing to do
A parting gift I’ve yet to give, cause once I do, I’m scared of what I’ll lose
See I held on to pain so long that pain became how I held on to you
Forgiveness is the final gift my heart will give to you

And you, you showed that to me
Didn’t you baby?
You, oh you showed that to me
Forgiving you sets my heart free

Click here to read Blair’s Lyric Spotlight Q&A.

Click here to see Blair’s Songspace Profile.

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

RIAA, NSAI + Nashville's Bluebird Cafe Partner on Open Mic Nights

June 21, 2011

This week the RIAA and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) announced a new partnership to sponsor a weekly “Monday Open Mic” night at Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Cafe.  The new collaboration aims to bring Nashville’s music labels into an even closer industry relationship with the extraordinary cast of songwriters, performers and music publishers that regularly attend the Bluebird’s “Monday Open Mic” night, which welcomes songwriters who want to try out new material, meet other writers, become a part of the songwriting community and practice performing skills. 

Throughout the years the RIAA has been fortunate to team with some exceptional musicians and groups to raise awareness for the important work, and artistic endeavors, each undertakes.  Through our own “Listen and Learn” in-house concert series we have welcomed a number of remarkable singers and songwriters to our DC headquarters to speak about their artistic growth and career experiences.  Additionally, the RIAA’s Gold and Platinum Program awards remain the recorded music industry’s recognized brand for success, and each new plaque presentation offers a fresh opportunity to connect with bands and support their creative and commercial growth. 

This new partnership is another example of the music community pulling together to discover and celebrate American music’s rich heritage and support songwriters and recording artists.  We’re thrilled that it is taking place in Nashville, a city already legendary for the friendly and close relationship that exists within the different elements of its music community – making it Music City USA. 

Photos by Bev Moser:

Songwriters Adam James, Blair Bodine and Dave Berg participate in Bluebird’s “Monday Open Mic” night on June 20 in Nashville

 

Adam James, Songwriter; Steve Bogard, President, NSAI; Dave Berg, Songwriter; Blair Bodine, Songwriter; Barbara Cloyd, Bluebird Cafe’s “Monday Open Mic” emcee; Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO, RIAA; and Erika Wollam Nichols, COO, Bluebird Cafe gather at the launch of RIAA, NSAI + Bluebird Cafe's new "Monday Open Mic" partnership

Ticket Magazine Montgomery News

Ambler songstress Blair Bodine raises awareness with her songs

 

Ambler songstress Blair Bodine will perform at her CD Release Party at World Café Live, Wednesday, April 15.

It is truly amazing when someone is blessed with the gift of song. It is even more astonishing when that someone uses that gift to benefit others. Enter Blair Bodine.

This talented songbird has been gracing the world with her music since the age of 13. She has also been helping the world with her voice for almost as long.

Gifted with a guitar for her 13th birthday, the Ambler singer didn't waste any time.

"When I was 15, my sister came back from a peace conference and it was the first time that I had read about child soldiers. I wanted to do something about it, so I wrote a song to raise awareness. The whole project began as a single song," says Bodine.

Bodine went on to begin her multimedia campaign, "Beyond All Borders," in 2000 to help the world become aware of child soldiers. She has performed all over the world, including Ghana and Switzerland, to continue to raise awareness for global human rights.

Bodine's sweet and soulful vocals and meaningful lyrics that make up her self-titled debut album will transport you to different worlds. Every song that she writes has a deep meaning and message.

"People always say 'write what you know.' My songs are stories based on experiences. They aren't 100 percent autobiographical, but I always try to make them uplifting. I want to send the message that people are able to overcome," says the songstress.

On Wednesday, April 15, the Columbia University alum will release her debut CD at World Café Live. The album is full of Bodine's stories, all told through her powerful yet gentle style of music.

"I'm excited to come home. It was making the dream and then bringing it home," says Bodine. "I hope to perform a lot more locally. I'm going to follow my songs and see where they take me."

If You Go:

Blair Bodine's

CD Release Party

will take place

at World Café Live,

3100 Chestnut St.,

Philadelphia, PA 19104,

Wednesday, April 15, 8 p.m.

AcousticMusicScene.com

The Falcon Ridge/Grassy Hill Emerging Artists Showcase is not a contest, and artists won’t be judged per se, although the audience is surveyed as to which showcase artists they’d like to see return the following year to participate in a Most Wanted Song Swap.

This year’s Most Wanted Song Swap will feature Nashville, TN-based singer-songwriter Blair Bodine, Baltimore, MD area-based band ilyAIMY, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Louise Mosrie, and Boston area-based band Pesky J. Nixon, who also host the popular Lounge Stage on the festival campgrounds on Thursday night, July 26, before the official start of the festival. These artists also are currently playing a number of Northeast gigs as part of a FRFF Most Wanted Tour. Upcoming performances include the Urban H20 series at the Beczak Environmental Education Center in Yonkers, NY on Saturday night, July 21, and headlining the seventh annual Huntington Folk Festival at Heckscher Park in Huntington, Long Island, NY on Sunday evening, July 22. Co-presented by the Folk Music Society of Huntington and the Huntington Arts Council, that free, day-long festival, also features unplugged showcases and song swaps during the afternoon. Hosted by AcousticMusicScene.com and Acoustic Live! in New York City and Beyond, the afternoon festivities will feature more than three-dozen performers — including several of this year’s FRFF Emerging Showcase Artists. Both Acoustic Live! and AcousticMusicScene.com also will have a presence at Falcon Ridge.

Among the Northeast’s most popular music festivals, the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, now in its 24th year, takes place July 27-29 at Dodds Farm on Route 7D in Hillsdale, New York, located in the foothills of the Berkshires near the tri-state corner of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The festival features dozens of artists performing on several stages, a dance tent, children’s music and activities, and a wide array of crafts, food and other vendors. Among the artists performing this year will be Aztec Two-Step, Brother Sun, Eddie From Ohio, John Flynn, Girlyman, Tracy Grammer, The Grand Slambovians, Eilen Jewell, Holly Near, Nerissa and Katryna Nields, Rod MacDonald, Todd Sheaffer (of Railroad Earth), and Spuyten Duyvil, among others.

Those camping at Falcon Ridge and staying up through the early morning hours can enjoy an array of informal jams, mini-showcases and after-hours song circles that help foster a sense of “folk” community and a different kind of festival experience.

More information on the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival can be found at www.falconridgefolk.com and will be posted on AcousticMusicScene.com next month.

American Songwriter Magazine (Online)

Announcing the 2014 Grand Prize Lyric Contest Winner:

Congratulations to Blair Bodine, the winner of our 2014 Grand Prize Lyric Contest! Bodine took home 1st place in our May/June Lyric Contest for her song “Lonely Pretty Things,” a song she wrote after a particularly inspiring trip to Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

For her grand prize, Bodine, who currently resides in New York City, will join singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe for a dream co-write. Bodine will also receive a demo recording session at Omni Sound Studios. American Songwriter will provide hotel accommodations and airfare to Nashville.

Read our Q&A with Bodine here and check out her winning lyrics below.

“Lonely Pretty Things”
Blair Bodine
Nashville, Tennessee

I know the loneliness beauty can bring
A falling star, a sidewalk flower, a feather floating on the wind
A syncopated melody that others try but they just cannot sing
I know the loneliness beauty can bring

And you, you showed that to me
How lonely pretty things can be

I know how easily things fall apart
The crumbling ledge of promises like bridges falling down between our hearts
One minute you are standing there the next you’re packing boxes in your car
I know how easily things fall apart

And you, you showed that to me
How easy leaving things can be

I know forgiveness is the grownup thing to do
A parting gift I’ve yet to give, cause once I do, I’m scared of what I’ll lose
See I held on to pain so long that pain became how I held on to you
Forgiveness is the final gift my heart will give to you

And you, you showed that to me
Didn’t you baby?
You, oh you showed that to me
Forgiving you sets my heart free