Collaborating + making a difference

There's many of us songwriters who'd love to make a difference and benefit others with our music but knowing how to do that can be challenging (especially in these strange and uncertain pandemic times).  Below is an inspirational story and song from two songwriters I know: a lyricist and guitarist songwriter who've never met each other in the flesh.

Brian Ramsay and Mary Ann Daugherty first connected in May 2020 in an online masterclass with (my hero) Pat Pattison. Since then, Brian (based in Arkansas) and Mary Ann (California) have been collaborating regularly online, using email, zoom and the odd phone call. 

Mary Ann originally wrote the lyrics to "Summerland" back in 2011 - a song that tells a story of soldiers and post traumatic stress. At the time, she approached several organisations that work with returning veterans in the USA about the song but recieved only polite "thanks but no thanks" in response so she shelved it.

Recently, Mary Ann shared the lyrics with Brian who put them together with a chord progression that had been floating around in his mind for a while. Over a couple of months, they honed the lyrics (Mary Ann said the song took ten hours to write but the title three weeks!), brought the song to the table for feedback and worked on the song more in response.

They began bouncing around ideas for sharing it with a wider audience and partnering with initiatives that support war veterans with PTSD. They invested about $300USD in production and the creation of a lyric video and identified several organisations who might be a good fit. From first contact (they sent a brief email with the lyric video), they received supportive but canned responses (more of the "thanks but no thanks" variety). 

Mary Ann and Brian persevered though and connected with Guitars4Vets. In a warm and welcoming conference call, one of the directors said (more or less), "We get submissions like this all the time but it's refreshing to receive something from someone who can actually craft a song." It was decided to create another video for the song featuring Guitars4Vets in action and using images of people the organisation works with (Willy Nelson appears in one picture!) and to use the song for a national fundraising campaign. 

And voila! Below is the resulting song and video out there right now, doing good work and helping to bring more light to the world. I'm blessed to be part of the songwriting group with Mary Ann and Brian and to have heard the song in the early stages of development. To see it here now, out there in service of a worthy and vital cause is inspiring and uplifting. I hope it makes you feel the same way.

"Summerland" is dedicated to Brian's dad who was a veteran. He passed away in September 2020. If you can, please consider sharing the song and donating to Guitars4Vets

- Mira