Vol State songwriters perform at local eatery

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

The Advanced Songwriting Class and Commercial Music Ensemble from Volunteer State Community College performed at Swaney Swifts in the Gallatin, Tennessee square on March 23.

Liz Hengber, Instructor for Advanced Songwriting, opened for her class. She introduced herself and said that six of her students would be performing.

She said the first student that would be performing was Jackson Steele and said his biggest inspiration was his dad. He started the show off with an original song.

After he finished his song and everyone had applauded, Hengber said Justin Walters, another student from her class, would be joining Steele for them to sing a song they had cowritten.

Hengber said when she walked into the cafeteria at Vol State one day, they were sitting around with their guitars.

“I thought, this is like the 60s—I love Vol State,” said Hengber.

Walters joined Steele and they performed their song, “Instead I’ll be Gone.”

Hengber then introduced the next student, Cecily Wingsong, who was born in Chicago and had been singing since she was 4-years-old.

Hengber and Wingsong had been waitresses together, after Wingsong had moved to Nashville.

“I’ve loved her for a long time,” said Hengber.

Wingsong’s first song was “For You,” a song she had co-written with Barbara Harmon, another student in the songwriting class.

Her next song was a song she wrote about her father. He had been a cowboy singer on the National Barn Dance.

When she would be staying at her grandmother’s house, they would gather around the radio so they could her him sing.

The song was about him singing “Sing of Great River Valley,” and her wanting to hear him sing to her.

The audience complimented her on her performance as she walked back to her seat.

“A petite beauty with a huge voice,” said Hengber into the microphone.

Hengber then reintroduced Walters and said he found his love for music at 13-years-old. He performed his song “While You’re at It” with his fiance Kelly.

As he sang his next song, “Wake Up My Yesterdays,” the floor vibrated while his and several other people’s feet were tapping to the beat of his song.

Caleb Baker, another student from Hengber’s class, then joined Walters for them to perform “Talking in Emoji,” a song they had cowritten together.

Walters played the guitar while Baker sang lead. They both smiled as they performed their song that everyone in the songwriting class had said was catchy.

Hengber then introduced Rickie Pickering, an advanced songwriting student, who had lived in Gallatin for 30 years.

“He is one of my favorite hippies in the world,” said Hengber.

Pickering then sang a song he had co-written with Braden Baugh, a former songwriting class student. The song was titled “Poison,” and Pickering said that Baugh had it available on iTunes.

Next he sang, “Luckiest Man Alive,” a song he co-wrote with Bobby West, who was also in the audience that night.

After Pickering, Baker came back up to perform two of his original songs.

The first song he sang he said was about staying together, and the next “Story of a Broken Man,” he said was the story of a homeless man.

Hengber then introduced Victoria Lee Watson, another songwriting student, and said she had singing since before she could talk and writing songs since she was 3-years-old.

“I heard her song on iTunes, and I went crazy for her,” said Hengber.

Watson’s first song was “Just a Little More,” a song she said she wrote when she was 17-years-old.

She said it was about her grandmother and about her own personal experiences.

Her next song, “Hands to the Sky,” was a song she wrote for songwriting class. “It’s about guys cheating on girls at bars,” said Watson.

Watson shrugged her shoulders as she sang the words “and quite frankly neither did I.”

“You nailed it,” said Hengber to Watson, as she ended the songwriting class’s part of the show.

“Thanks, so much, for coming tonight to see the advanced songwriting class.

“I’ve never been so proud of eight students in my life…in many ways, they are teaching me,” said Hengber.

Lynn Peterson, Instructor of the Commercial Music Ensemble, then introduced the ensemble.

Watson was also a member in this group. They opened with “Dust in the Wind.”

After the song had ended, Hengber said “they’re good.”

They performed several songs including “Jolene,” “The House of the Rising Sun” and “Wish You Were Here.”

For the last two songs the Commercial Music Ensemble performed, Kyle Cothron, a Commercial Music Ensemble student who had also been the sound person through all the performances for both classes, joined them.

One of the songs he sang was “Seven Bridges Road.” Steve Young, the original singer/songwriter of this song, had recently died on March 18.

Peterson ended the show with a few words.

“The reason why they’re smiling is because they work hard at this and are enjoying there time,” said Peterson.

He said there will be a big show with these students at the end of April.