Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hilary Weeks Workshop with NSAI

Have you ever juggled your aspiring music career with the pulls of your family? Ever said to your spouse “Honey if I can just get this one song to be picked up by an artist it will be worth the cost of the demo.” Or “If I can just perform out enough I can build a fan base” and yet in the process feel torn by the needs of your family and the restraints of your budget? HELLO…you are not alone.

So when the idea was presented to me to have Hilary Weeks give a workshop for the Utah chapter of NSAI, (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International of which I recently stepped down as head coordinator), I thought great! But I wanted her to present something that was unique for the group. My co-coordinator, Cami Morrison, came up with the perfect thought. How to balance your music career with your family life.

Who better than Hilary Weeks? Hilary has a family of her own, travels year round to concerts and speaking engagements, and is very popular with Deseret Book’s “Time Out for Women” events. Just take a look at her schedule on her website at and see for yourself.

Is her life a bit hectic? Yes…but she has a wealth of information to share about how she manages her own journey in the crazy business of music. This is a unique opportunity for those of you seriously looking into a songwriting/music career or who are trying to make it right now in the business and feel that constant tug and pull between family and finance like I do. After Hilary’s presentation we will allow our NSAI members, along with a few non-NSAI members, to have a short group evaluation of a song. Hilary will be participating in the song evaluations.

Refreshments will follow.

Hilary is a much sought out speaker and performer and she has offered our NSAI group, since we are a not-for-profit organization, a special rate so we are able to offer an incredible intimate evening with her for only $15.00 for NSAI members and $20.00 for non-NSAI members on Wednesday October 8th from 7:30-10:00 pm. The location is the Piano Gallery at 650 S. State St. in Orem. Please e-mail me, Julie Keyser, at if you would like to attend.

Over the last few years the Utah chapter of NSAI (Nashville Songwriter’s Association International) has been privileged to host some of the best songwriters in the country, several of whom live right here in Utah.

NSAI is committed to helping aspiring and independent songwriters craft songs which are commercially marketable and give them the tools to move forward with their music careers. NSAI does this by offering monthly workshops; through it’s over 100 chapters worldwide, where songwriters come together for one hour lessons, developed by any one of NSAI’s pro-songwriters, followed by an hour of individual song evaluations lead by a trained coordinator.

So if songwriting is in your blood, as it is mine and thousands like me, do yourself a favor and check out NSAI and see what we can do for you.

Until next time,
Julie Keyser

Julie Keyser ©Sept. 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jennifer Griffiths: Inspiring others with “A Song and a Prayer”

Just the other day I received this invitation from my good friend Jen Griffiths via e-mail:
"I share my music with people online again, but with a little different approach than I did last time. So, Jen Griffiths Music is officially online! My site has a free weekly 5-10 minute podcast called "A Song and A Prayer." Each podcast has an inspirational message followed by an original song. Let me know what you think!"
So...I checked it out, like any good friend would, not realizing what a difference it would make in my life by just listening for a few minutes. But before I go into what a difference it made for me that day let me get you caught up on Jen Griffiths the person, the singer/songwriter extraordinaire...the friend.

I first met Jen through the website. She was looking for a co-writer and I answered the call. We found out afterwards that we lived less than ten minutes away from each other. Our first co-write attempt was the song "Tempted" found at the pop/rock/alt section and while it turned out to be a great song, and has had a few labels and artists seriously consider it, it hasn't gone farther than the demo stage at this point...however, the best thing that came out of that first co-writing experience together was a lifelong friendship.

In time we became part of a foursome of singer/songwriting women that included Jen, myself, Lindy Kerby and Stacilee Whiting. We performed our original inspirational music at Relief Society Enrichment Night gatherings and even the state prison. Our theme was always the same: "Don’t be so hard on yourself for not being perfect. The Lord loves you and we are all human and make mistakes." We gave this message in our own inspirational and somewhat corny way but hearts were always touched.

Jen always sang one song in particular called "Forgive Yourself" that really addressed the theme of our musical mission as a group. It's a light pop song with a deep message. In our first performances I would play backup on my guitar to her keyboarding while she sang the song. We felt like such our own highly toned down Mormon Mom sort of way. But only this past weekend did that song effect me at the level it was truly intended.

When I got Jen's request to check out her site I was dealing with some personal issues and feelings of discouragement. As I listened to Jen's story and prayer that went along with her song "Forgive Yourself" I started to feel the Spirit and then as the song played I became deeply touched by the words...
"She'd been told she was beautiful, but each time she looked in the mirror she saw a thousand flaws appear. It's an age-old story of which we've become a part by expecting perfection from all we are."
Then the chorus hit me hard
"Every tree has hidden scars. Every sky can turn gray, but the bird still loves the old oak's branches and we still pray for rain. If we can look beyond life's imperfections then why not our own...forgive yourself your human."
I couldn't get through the song without the floodgates of my tear ducts opening up...thank heavens I was by myself.

Well okay, my writing of the words does this song no justice at all, so do yourself a favor go to Jen's website at and discover for yourself the powerful healing effect of Jen's beautiful pop vocals blended with her incredibly inspirational lyrics. The website isn't perfected yet so be patient with the downloads cause it's definitely worth the wait.

And now, so you can get to know this great musical talent, Jen Griffiths, better I've included her bio from off of her website and asked her to answer a few questions for me as well.

Jen Griffiths is a singer-songwriter, originally from Northern California, and has been writing music for almost 20 years. Jen has performed her original music in numerous venues and has been mentored as a writer by some amazing music industry pros. She currently resides in Utah County with her husband and three children.

What was the underlying inspiration behind your new website theme of a "Prayer and a Song"?

Well, that's exactly what it was--inspiration! The idea for the podcasts and the title "A Song & A Prayer" just came to me all at once. When you get those kinds of ideas (that are whole and complete) you know they are not something that originated with you, but rather from a Greater Source. I had all these songs that I had written and all these experiences that I could share with other people and I knew I needed to do it, so I acted on that inspiration.

What do you hope to accomplish in the hearts of your listeners?

My greatest hope for my listeners is that they will feel a renewal of hope, an uplifting of spirit, and a measure of peace when they hear the messages--that they will reconnect with the Source of all strength and joy, which is God.

Where does your inspiration for each song you write come from?

I find inspiration everywhere--life, people's, trials, celebrations, phrases I hear people speak, stories--everything has the potential to become a song topic!

Will you be performing again anytime soon so we can hear your terrific music live?

On the FAQ page of my website I answer the question "Are you available for presentations?" The answer is yes. The page gives more specifics on how to go about that, but interested parties should email me at to check availability.

Until next time,
Julie Keyser
© By Julie Keyser

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