December 23 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 64) “A Very StrongWriter Christmas 2015”

“A Very StrongWriter Christmas”
featuring Christmas songs from various StrongWriter guests

A Very StrongWriter Xmas

It’s my very special Christmas show!  How cool is it for me to spin some Christmas tunes on my radio program, especially when the artists are my friends from the show!   Grab some hot chocolate (or something stronger if you like) and enjoy my special offering for the end of December… It’s a Very StrongWriter Christmas!!   ~ Dean

Merry Christmas!

A Very StrongWriter Christmas 2015

Sleigh RideDean Olson
I’ll Be Home For ChristmasKanisha K
Christmas Is HereCindy Alexander
Jingle Bell RockShantell Ogden
Driving Home For ChristmasFrank Shiner
Santa On VacationCindy Alexander (featuring 6 year old Jette Betrue)
Blue ChristmasBrian Hutson
That’s What Christmas Used To BeLaura Pursell
I Found Love (Just In Time For Christmas)Kanisha K
For Auld Lang SyneCindy Alexander
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)Dean Olson

Special thanks to all my guests for the use of her images and music.
© 2015 StrongWriter On the Radio – All Rights Reserved

August 7 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 44) “The War and Treaty – Tanya Takes the Mike”

On this fourth and final episode of my “War and Treaty special,” I finish up strong with the conclusion of my interview with Tanya Blount!  She is one beautiful and charming guest, and like her musical husband Michael Trotter, she has a shining positive attitude!  We pick up from the previous conversation, about starting their own music company.  Tanya and I discuss some more of her acting experience on the set of Sister Act 2, and then she gives me some insight on what it was like to sign with a major record label in the 90’s.  But, of course, she travels with me down the path of faith, and gives us all something special to think about.   Please enjoy the show!!

Featured Guest:   The War and Treaty (featuring Tanya Blount)

Four years ago, two solo artists from opposite sides of the world meet at a Love Festival.  Michael Trotter, Jr. had just returned home from serving in the war in Iraq, and Tanya Blount was performing on various stages around the world.  They fell in love, and combined their talents to form The War & Treaty and have been performing on stage and writing music together ever since.  They are currently increasing fans on the social media airwaves with their soul-pop-folk songs from their recent album, Bars & Churches.  Trotter & Blount are gaining momentum in the past few months and their successes have led to a national 20 city tour in United States ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

Quotes and Notes….

Faith, Family and Music. Ok, it sounds cliché, but it’s the center of everything I am. All I do and am comes from God and my love of family drives my message of power and purpose to teens and the people who encourage them. I speak professionally to teens, young adults, parents, educators, youth pastors and anyone else who can make an impact. I’ve also got a band that writes and plays music that aligns with my message and assignment.

The War and Treaty

Please visit The War and Treaty’s website:
www.thewarandtreaty.com
July 31 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 43) “The War and Treaty – Meet Tanya Blount”

On this special series of episodes, I wish to introduce you to a very special married musical couple.  They are a wonderfully talented duo, and they happen to be very dear friends of mine.  They are Michael Trotter and his bride Tanya Blount, also known as The War and Treaty.   To start this journey, I want to share PART THREE of the series as I have my first official interview with Tanya.  First, we’ll meet with Michael and the musicians on speakerphone, and then Tanya is my special guest for the rest of the show!  If you thought Michael was incredible, you need to hear his lovely bride as she shares parts of her life, acting career, her musical journey and faith.  You will absolutely love Mrs. Trotter,  aka Tanya Blount!

Featured Guest:   The War and Treaty (featuring Tanya Blount)

Four years ago, two solo artists from opposite sides of the world meet at a Love Festival.  Michael Trotter, Jr. had just returned home from serving in the war in Iraq, and Tanya Blount was performing on various stages around the world.  They fell in love, and combined their talents to form The War & Treaty and have been performing on stage and writing music together ever since.  They are currently increasing fans on the social media airwaves with their soul-pop-folk songs from their recent album, Bars & Churches.  Trotter & Blount are gaining momentum in the past few months and their successes have led to a national 20 city tour in United States ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

Quotes and Notes….

Faith, Family and Music. Ok, it sounds cliché, but it’s the center of everything I am. All I do and am comes from God and my love of family drives my message of power and purpose to teens and the people who encourage them. I speak professionally to teens, young adults, parents, educators, youth pastors and anyone else who can make an impact. I’ve also got a band that writes and plays music that aligns with my message and assignment.

The War and Treaty

Please visit The War and Treaty’s website:
www.thewarandtreaty.com
July 17 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 42) “The War and Treaty – Mike Ivory Moves On”

On this special series of episodes, I wish to introduce you to a very special married musical couple.  They are a wonderfully talented duo, and they happen to be very dear friends of mine.  They are Michael Trotter and his bride Tanya Blount, also known as The War and Treaty.   To start this journey, I want to share PART TWO of my first conversation with Michael Trotter from 2012.  His stage name and songwriting persona was Mike Ivory back then, and his contribution to the show was genuine and on point.  Over the next few years, I would realize the scope of prolific talent coming from the heart of this thirty-something musical artist and veteran of the U.S. Army.  Grab some refreshment, and enjoy the show!!

Featured Guest:   The War and Treaty (featuring Michael Trotter, Jr.)

Four years ago, two solo artists from opposite sides of the world meet at a Love Festival.  Michael Trotter, Jr. had just returned home from serving in the war in Iraq, and Tanya Blount was performing on various stages around the world.  They fell in love, and combined their talents to form The War & Treaty and have been performing on stage and writing music together ever since.  They are currently increasing fans on the social media airwaves with their soul-pop-folk songs from their recent album, Bars & Churches.  Trotter & Blount are gaining momentum in the past few months and their successes have led to a national 20 city tour in United States ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

Quotes and Notes….

Faith, Family and Music. Ok, it sounds cliché, but it’s the center of everything I am. All I do and am comes from God and my love of family drives my message of power and purpose to teens and the people who encourage them. I speak professionally to teens, young adults, parents, educators, youth pastors and anyone else who can make an impact. I’ve also got a band that writes and plays music that aligns with my message and assignment.

The War and Treaty

Please visit The War and Treaty’s website:
www.thewarandtreaty.com
July 10 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 41) “The War and Treaty – Meet Mike Ivory”

On this special series of episodes, I wish to introduce you to a very special married musical couple.  They are a wonderfully talented duo, and they happen to be very dear friends of mine.  They are Michael Trotter and his bride Tanya Blount, also known as The War and Treaty.   To start this journey, I want to share my first conversation with Michael Trotter from 2012.  His stage name and songwriting persona was Mike Ivory back then, and his contribution to the show was genuine and on point.  Over the next few years, I would realize the scope of prolific talent coming from the heart of this thirty-something musical artist and veteran of the U.S. Army.  Grab some refreshment, and enjoy the show!!

Featured Guest:   The War and Treaty (featuring Michael Trotter, Jr.)

Four years ago, two solo artists from opposite sides of the world meet at a Love Festival.  Michael Trotter, Jr. had just returned home from serving in the war in Iraq, and Tanya Blount was performing on various stages around the world.  They fell in love, and combined their talents to form The War & Treaty and have been performing on stage and writing music together ever since.  They are currently increasing fans on the social media airwaves with their soul-pop-folk songs from their recent album, Bars & Churches.  Trotter & Blount are gaining momentum in the past few months and their successes have led to a national 20 city tour in United States ending in Zurich, Switzerland.

Quotes and Notes….

Faith, Family and Music. Ok, it sounds cliché, but it’s the center of everything I am. All I do and am comes from God and my love of family drives my message of power and purpose to teens and the people who encourage them. I speak professionally to teens, young adults, parents, educators, youth pastors and anyone else who can make an impact. I’ve also got a band that writes and plays music that aligns with my message and assignment.

The War and Treaty

Please visit The War and Treaty’s website:
www.thewarandtreaty.com
April 24 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 34) “Shantell Ogden – Ghosts In the Field”

My guest in this episode is a hallmark artist that I am proud to call a StrongWriter… Miss Shantell Ogden!   I’m also blessed that she is my good friend and my window to the fabled Music City.   Shantell is a very talented songwriter who plays well with others around town, and her work ethic and positive attitude make her a superstar on my show.  I brought her on to promote her fourth studio album, Ghosts In the Field, produced and recorded in Nashville with John Willis.  Many of the songs were written and given a little extra kick with her familiar collaborator Bill DiLuigi and vocal producer Judy Rodman.  And it was a pleasure to share Shantell’s music, because I really enjoyed this collection of songs ranging from thoughtful to ebullient to sometimes stirring.

For example, “God Counts Every Tear” (co-written with Joe Doyle and Brian Kolb) sets a melancholy tone, until Shantell takes you by the hand to point to the heavens.  It is there that the desperate and lonely can take comfort that God is there, watching over everything and proving that we’re not alone after all.    Some of her thoughtful tracks are slightly heavy, as in “Who Comes First” which deals with addiction and relationships … while others touch the heart (“Be My Rain” co-written with Judy Rodman) and the spirit (“Ghosts In the Field.”)  The ebullience is definitely apparent in “Just a Little,” which captures the nervous joy of a new relationship.   Finally, Miss Ogden offers two tracks that she didn’t write:  One is the mandolin and banjo driven “Blossom In the Dust” written by Joe Doyle, Jon Hendersen and Mallory Hope.  The other is the eight-beat gospel & blues flavored “As Long As You’re Mine” written by Mandy Cook, Dustin James and Jimmy Borja.  Feel free to clap along as I did!

As a whole, Ghosts In the Field puts a smile on your face and a beat in your heart.   And I think that’s what Americana music should do!

✰✰✰✰✰

Featured Guest:   Shantell Ogden

Shantell Ogden has a gift for crafting songs with real conviction and emotion. Her gift, combined with a work ethic gained from growing up on a farm, is paying dividends. Shantell’s songs have received airplay on more than 500 country and Americana radio stations internationally, reaching Top 20 chart positions both in the U.S. and Europe. Her songs have also appeared on the CW’s popular TV series Hart of Dixie and in several feature films.

As a performing Americana artist, Shantell and her albums have been covered by Maverick Magazine (UK), Performer Magazine, Music News Nashville and other media. She’s released three acclaimed independent albums, including Better At Goodbyewhich won Americana Album of the Year in the 2014 IMEA Awards.  Shantell tours internationally from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. When at home, she’s known for keeping her front door open and a song drifting down the street.

Ghosts in the Field was recorded and produced at Willisoundz by John Willis (Faith Hill, Jewel, Indie Arie, Taylor Swift)  John is an A-list session musician who played all the instruments on this album, except for percussion, played by Steve Brewster (Dierks Bentley, Faith Hill, Chicago, Bob Seger)

Mixed by Grammy-nominated engineer Brian Kolb.  Mastered at Mayfield Mastering by John Mayfield.  And the wonderful Judy Rodman produced the vocals!

“Shantell Ogden – Ghosts In the Field”
featuring the songs “Ghosts In the Field” and “God Counts Every Tear” 

Shantell Ogden on ''Josh Connor in the Songwriter's Circle''

Visit Shantell’s website:
www.shantellogden.com
Shantell hipfarmchicrecords-logo

Special thanks to Shantell Ogden for the use of her photos and music.

(Photo credits:  Chuck Eaton, Angie Miller)

April 10 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 33) “PJ McClure – Get Out Of the Boat”

I continue my conversation with author/speaker/coach and music maker PJ McCLURE, and if you missed the first part, click here to listen.  PJ is motivated by The Lord, as you’ll tell, and he shares his positive mindset where my program can use it…songwriting and making music.   I learned how he stepped out on faith to write and perform his first song, especially one that he spontaneously posted on social media.   Then, I take a break to share my own song that PJ inspired me to write, “What a Working Mom Can Do.”   Then finally, we discuss briefly his “7 Elements Of Personal Choice” and how they affect your life.   I hope you will enjoy PJ McClure!  “… to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Ephesians 4:23 NIV

Featured Guest:   PJ McClure

PJ McClure is the trusted voice for those seeking the bigger life they know is out there for them. His strategies and guidance for living life to the fullest are called unique, meaningful, focused and personal, while he delivers them in a sincere, warm, and straight-shooting way.

PJ’s pursuit of his own bigger life is built on an ever-deepening, personal relationship with Jesus-Christ and the promise Jesus made in John 10:10, “I have come so they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

© 2009-2015 PJ McClure

From PJ’s YouTube channel:

Faith, Family and Music. Ok, it sounds cliché, but it’s the center of everything I am. All I do and am comes from God and my love of family drives my message of power and purpose to teens and the people who encourage them. I speak professionally to teens, young adults, parents, educators, youth pastors and anyone else who can make an impact. I’ve also got a band that writes and plays music that aligns with my message and assignment. Make sure to subscribe!

One Obedient Step

Please visit PJ McClure’s website:
www.pjmcclure.com
October 5 2014

Shantell Ogden – Dreams Do Come True!

Shantell IMEA Award crop

Over the last three years, I’ve been sharing music and media from a good friend and role model, Miss Shantell Ogden, Songwriter.   She has been and remains one of my favorite StrongWriters, and many of my music friends have become fans as well.   Nashville has got to be mighty proud to have her in the community.   With three quality albums under belt, Shantell has been receiving more and more recognition for her art.   This year alone, her latest album has enjoyed a steady climb up the Americana charts.   And during this musical journey, something fantastic happened.   This weekend, Shantell won on an international stage at the 2nd annual IMEA Awards.

Shantell IMEA Award
Shantell Ogden after receiving the IMEA Americana Album Of the Year award

The IMEA Awards is a red carpet awards show put on by the International Music and Entertainment Association, Inc.   The purpose of the program is to honor and internationally recognize artists and organizations in music, the film industry and the theater.   The prestigious gala took place Saturday, October 4 in Ashland, Kentucky at the Paramount Arts Center.   For residents of Nashville, this is easily a five-and-a-half hour trek by automobile.   I didn’t ask Shantell if she made the drive or hopped a flight, but either way, it was worth the trip, because she got to take home a trophy and so much more!   Dozens of categories encompassing several genres with five nominees for each award were featured in the ceremony.   Shantell, who represented the Americana category, was nominated for both Artist Of the Year and Album Of the Year.   She won the latter for her most triumphant CD, Better At Goodbye.

Sidebar: You can read my review of Better At Goodbye by clicking HERE!

Shantell Ogden (Better At Goodbye cover final)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is wonderful news for Shantell, her producer John Willis, her vocal aficionado Judy Rodman, and of course all her collaborators and musicians.   Not to mention her lovely parents from her hometown in Utah.   But, we in the Olson household, are beaming with excitement and wish her continued success and happiness as she continues on down the road of songwriting and performing.

 

Shantell, we have so much to chat about since our first interview over three years ago.   God bless you, and we’ll talk soon.

~  Dean

Photos courtesy of Shantell Ogden

Please visit www.shantellogden.com for more information and music!

December 2 2013

Shantell Ogden – You Had Me At “Goodbye”

Shantell Ogden (Studio with Guitars)

It is truly a privilege as well as a treat to preview and review a new album that comes out of the Nashville community.   There is additional perspective in reviewing one when it is by someone whom I consider a dear friend.   Performing songwriter Shantell Ogden has issued two previous collections of critically praised music in five years time (Water Through Stone in 2008 and Stories Behind Songs in 2011,) and I think the third time will be a charm.   And believe me when I tell you, the charm is in the lady herself, and you’ll happily fall for it as you listen to her third offering, Better At Goodbye.

This well crafted assortment of eight tunes reflects the tender and vulnerable heart of Miss Ogden, and it’s a captivating glimpse into a journey that unfolds from Utah dairy farm girl to young independent woman who made a name for herself in the big city.  Love relationships, dreams, doubts, self-discovery and epiphanies.  Is Shantell telling you about herself with this CD?  You’ll have to decide for yourself, but you will undoubtedly enjoy the time you spend finding out!  With Better At Goodbye, she gets back to her singer-songwriter roots, delivering very honest and introspective lyrics through lustrously crafted hooks.   Fans of country music are sure to enjoy Shantell’s lilting vocals which seem to float above the music, but this new album will indicate that her style is a bit more diverse than to put her in a box, genre-wise.   The melodies are infectious; I felt like singing along almost right away.  In fact, I got a nice warm feeling as I listened to Better At Goodbye, which is quite gratifying on a chilly month like December.  better-at-goodbye-cover-finalIt evoked fanciful memories of listening to late-nineties folk-pop radio queens like Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Amanda Marshall or Paula Cole, except the vocal styling is so much more down-home.   Her previous CD, Stories Behind Songs, was acoustically driven while Better At Goodbye has more pop elements.   During a recent interview, Shantell pointed out that, although she has written several country tracks, it is actually Americana music that you are listening to with this album.  A very suitable distinction, indeed!

However, the Nashville footprint is undeniably evident on Better At Goodbye thanks to John Willis, a multi-instrumentalist and producer extraordinaire who took Shantell’s songs of life and love to an exciting and aesthetic level.  That’s just my fancy way of saying that you’re going to like the way it sounds!  And, like a great chef concocting a brand new soup, John throws in many surprise ingredients.  In this case, you can taste various wild-card instruments such as harmonium, glockenspiel,  psaltery, and even a Melatron.   That’s pretty flavorful!   And then making certain that too many cooks don’t spoil the broth, he is accompanied by a few more musicians:  Steve Brewster on percussion,  Gary Prim on keys and Thom Flora on vocals.  All served up hot and good to the last spoonful!

Shantell’s residency in Music City, USA has been a blessing, and her work ethic is apparent in the music she creates.   A blank page will neither scare her nor slow her down.  In fact, she has proven she can write formulaic and catchy songs on the spot, which is an invaluable skill in that town.  But I have found that some of her best creations have been brewed up through her collaborations with her professional friends, some of whom are top songwriters in the business.   This is demonstrated in the opening two tracks, “The Lie I Tell Myself” and “Only God Knows Why” which were co-written with veteran song-smiths Jan Buckingham (Tim McGraw, Whitney Houston, Pam Tillis) and Wood Newton (Kenny Rogers, Steve Wariner, David Ball)  These particular songs have the chops to be put into regular rotation on country radio, and I would recommend that program directors get on the ball and start playing it now.  (Oh, if it was that easy!)  Marcum Stewart (Acklen Park) co-wrote “Looking For My Last”  inspired by a quote, “It may be more romantic to be someone’s first love, but its better to be their last.”  And finally there is Shantell’s long-time friend and collaborator, the great Bill DiLuigi, who co-wrote two songs:  “Where You’re Not” which stems from the idea that all the places you’ve been to matter less when you find the one.  And the title track, “Better At Goodbye” which according to Shantell sums up the essence of the project, which is healing, self-examination and saying goodbye to bad relationships and welcoming new ones.    ShantellSinging2Shantell has surrounded herself with great musicians and writers, but this wonderful lady’s talent sparkles on the second-to-last track, “More To Me” which is my personal pick and will tug on those heartstrings, for sure.  She performs it with both emotion and grace.  You just gotta get this album when it comes out on December 17th!

My bride and I have gotten to know Shantell, and she is just as sweet as the voice you hear on the record.  You’ll agree when you meet her as well.  Get to know her on her website and blog at www.shantellsmusic.net  and also on her facebook page www.facebook.com/shansmusic  Lots of pictures and music to check out.

And of course she is on iTunes, and you can check out her music including an advance 3-song EP!  iTunes “Just the Lonely”

If this current album is your first introduction to Shantell Ogden, I am certain that she’ll have you at “Goodbye!”

~ Dean Olson

♪ ♫ ♩ ♬  ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬  ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

You can also check out my review of Stories Behind Songs from 2011

June 25 2013

Accept Me or Reject Me

approved and rejected buttons 300x300

By PJ McClure

I’m hearing the same phrase nearly everywhere I go. In my world, that means I need to pay attention because there is an issue needing attention. The issue, fear of rejection disguised as self-confidence.

The phrase in question is one form or another of, “They’ll just have to accept me as I am.” On the surface it seems sincere enough, but there is a nasty underbelly that brings the phrase out. Hang with me for a moment and I’ll show you what I mean.

First, there really are segments of people who will accept us as we are. Immediate family or very close friends could be in that category. This acceptance comes from unconditional love and will always be the case regardless of the person you are. This acceptance is also a safe place that allows us to become more than we are and strive to be our best selves.

Approved-and-rejected-buttons-300x300

Unfortunately, not everyone has that safe place. Many of us have experienced rejection from those closest to us and there is nothing that feels good about it. Instead of having a foundation of acceptance to grow from, we begin to withdraw. The questions swirl in our minds about our worth and if we will ever be good enough.

Thoughts take root… “If I won’t ever be good enough, why bother getting better?”

We are remarkable machines and our primary program is self-preservation. We want to protect ourselves physically, emotionally, etc. To do so we create systems, many unconscious, to defend against attack. One of those systems is to strike first.

If I fear that my efforts could fall short and put me at risk of rejection, I’ll take the first shot instead. I build my identity around things that purposefully keep me distant from those that could reject me. Eventually my entire persona guarantees rejection, but I’m okay with that because I can claim it as my choice.

I chose to be this way and if you don’t like it, it’s your problem. “If you can’t accept me as who I am, I don’t need you.” I created the rejection so that you couldn’t.

The attitude runs throughout the rest of our lives. Family, jobs, friends, all become the bad guys in our minds because they don’t accept who we’ve become. The truth is that they have never been given the chance to accept us because we are always rejecting ourselves before they can.

If you recognize these traits in yourself or someone else, take a moment to consider these steps to recovery.

  • Forgiveness: The most powerful tool in the universe and absolutely essential to breaking the rejection cycle. If you are the one fearing rejection, forgive any and all people you’ve ever felt rejected by and understand that people never reject you as a person. They either reject an idea or they are projecting their own insecurities on you. You don’t have to carry around their issues and shape your life accordingly.
  • Vision: What kind of person do you want to be? Ditch the unhappiness that comes with pushing people away and open your arms to life. Just because you want more from life than you currently have and decide to strive for it does not make you a “sell out” or any other such nonsense. Decide what you want and go for it!
  • Risk: Sorry to break it to you, but risk is part of life. You might fall short and completely on your face in attempting to do or be more. That’s part of it. Anyone who ridicules you for taking a chance and coming up short isn’t doing much with their own life. Failure is not permanent and you can always go for it again with a new set of experience.
  • Repeat: Once you’ve had the freedom of forgiving and the thrill of spending yourself in a worthy cause, you’ll never go back. This is what life is made of! Put yourself out there and do something new today. Do it once per week! See how many doors open because you are willing to knock.

I know the freedom and thrill mentioned above firsthand and I only want you to know the same thing in your life. It’s so worth it! Please let me know how these thoughts affect you and what steps you need next. To your best life!

———————————————————————————————————

PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset and Unlock Your Life: How to go beyond Time-Management to the Life of Your Dreams. You can download a copy of Flip the SWITCH for Free by clicking here.