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Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:MUSIC
  • SubGenre:Instruction & Study / Songwriting
  • Language:English
  • Pages:199

The Songwriter In Me

Snapshots of My Creative Process

by Donna Ulisse

Book Image Not Available

Donna Ulisse shares her development as a songwriter; from introducing us to the people around her as a child who fired up her imagination, to being a signed songwriter at a music publishing company in Nashville, TN for the past fifteen years. She offers tips on the co-writing process, explanation of song structures and rhyme patterns, exercises on how to get your own creative juices flowing, as well as many of her own lyric examples with insights to her approach on each lyric. Written in her endearing, straightforward and down to earth style, Ulisse's love of songwriting shines through and she presents the information in an accessible form to writers of all levels.


How’d you like to spend a little time with “one of the best singer-songwriters in bluegrass,” hearing the stories behind the songs and learning how to turn inspiration into an inspiring work of art? Simply immerse yourself in Donna Ulisse’s new book, The Songwriter in Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process (Hadley Music Group). Bluegrass music is all about the story, and Ulisse is a masterful storyteller. “Donna’s songs are in a league all their own; intelligently crafted , thoughtful, inspired and married to some truly interesting and memorable melodies,” says Dave Higgs, host of NPR’s “Bluegrass Breakdown” show on Nashville Public Radio. No wonder she was nominated as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s songwriter of the year in 2012 and 2013! The legendary Del McCoury Band recorded the Civil War tale “Butler Brothers,” which Ulisse wrote with Jerry Salley, on its 2014 Grammy-winning album, The Streets of Baltimore. Her songs also have been recorded by Claire Lynch, Larry Stephenson, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, The Bankesters, Nu-Blu, Natasha Borzilova, Diana Jones and Louise Mosrie. The Songwriter in Me unfolds like a visit with an old friend — down-home, easygoing, conversational — as Ulisse invites you in to “this beautiful place where I make music these days.” Peppered with personal anecdotes and generous with insights, this handy book stands as a tribute to the power of the imagination. You don’t have to be a songwriter to reap its benefits. Ulisse’s suggestions can help you whether you are writing a song, a poem or a short story — or, for that matter, a speech, a sermon or marketing copy. As the title of one early chapter says, “Creativity Keeps You Young,” and Ulisse stands as living proof, showing no signs of slowing down her prolific output of new songs and recordings. Learn how to feed your imagination … nurture your creativity (and revive it when it seems dormant) … see the world through a child’s eyes … discover your own unique storytelling style … engage listeners’ imaginations … be honest in your writing … access your deep well of emotions … and do research to make your stories more believable. Ulisse also explains the mechanics of songwriting, such as rhyme, “syllable sense” and meter, and how she approaches the different parts of a song; discusses the joys (and necessity) of rewriting; and describes her process of “song scrapping,” or finding ideas for songs. She provides helpful tips for collaboration and shares some of her favorite tools of the trade, as well as other outlets to help you in your songwriting journey. Along the way, Ulisse offers numerous examples from her own rich catalog of songs and provides exercises that will help you hone your creative skills. Spend a little time with Donna Ulisse and you’ll be enriched by the experience!

About the author

Donna Ulisse (pronounced You-liss-ee) has been called "one of the best singer-songwriters in bluegrass" with a voice described as rapturous and angelic. Which leads us to the pen. Nominated as the International Bluegrass Music Association's Songwriter of the year for three years running, Ulisse has been blessed to have her songs recorded by Claire Lynch, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, The Bankesters, Larry Stephenson Band Nu-Blu, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Louise Mosrie and Diana Jones among others. She also had a song on the 2014 Grammy winning album Streets of Baltimore by the Del McCoury Band. Throughout the various phases of her career, Donna Ulisse has remained true to who she is, and that musical integrity comes across in every note she sings and writes. Born into a musical family in Hampton, Virginia, she grew up surrounded by traditional sounds and from an early age was drawn to performing. She later married Rick Stanley, a cousin of bluegrass legends Ralph and Carter Stanley, and was further influenced by his family's Clinch Mountain roots. As a teenager, she sang in a western swing band. After moving to Nashville in the 1980s, she quickly became an in-demand demo singer and background vocalist, lending her voice to recordings by legends such as Jerry Reed. A production deal with Dale Morris, manager of the supergroup Alabama, led to her signing a recording deal with Atlantic Records, which in 1991 released her well-received traditional country album, Trouble At The Door, and two singles that cracked the Billboard country charts. Despite critical acclaim, however, the album failed to generate widespread attention, though it remains a worldwide favorite today among discerning fans of fine traditional country music. After her Atlantic Records deal ended, she turned her focus to songwriting, amassing a high-quality catalog that often leaned toward bluegrass and mountain music, especially when she wrote alone. That observation by her publisher, Hadley Music Group, led to the recording of her album When I Look Back, the inaugural release of Hadley's own independent record label. Since then, she has released six more well-received albums for Hadley Music Group, each incorporating traditional and contemporary bluegrass, gospel and country: Walk This Mountain Down (2009), Holy Waters (2010), An Easy Climb (2011), All The Way To Bethlehem (2012), the gospel compilation I Am A Child of God (2013) and Showin' My Roots(2013). Her 2012 release, a stunningly original song cycle relating the story of Christ's birth, drew rave reviews, including: "may be the best Christmas story-related country album of 2012" (Country Standard Time) ... "a work of art" (The Bluegrass Special) ... "a masterpiece" (Bluegrass Unlimited) ... "a grand adventure told in song" ( When she is not in Nashville writing, she is performing. With her able touring band, The Poor Mountain Boys, Ulisse regularly hits the road, playing festivals, concert venues and churches, and gaining new fans at every stop. She is also in growing demand as an instructor at songwriting workshops and has started her own traveling songwriting workshop called Songwriting Escape.

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