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:
Shantell hipfarmchicrecords-logo

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

(Photo credits:  Chuck Eaton, Angie Miller)

November 20 2012

Look Out Nashville! Here Comes Jan Buckingham

Jan and I backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

Nashville didn’t see Jan Buckingham coming…

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Jan discovered her knack for writing when she wrote her first song, titled “Oh Sad Little Blue Bird” when she was eight years old. Her next songs came in her early twenties shortly after her first divorce.

“Nothing like a little pain to draw the creativity out of you,” said Jan. “I knew I had found my passion.”

Jan started performing in local clubs in Columbia, Missouri after she graduated from college during the summers when she wasn’t teaching school. It was during this time that she entered the American Song Festival (a contest she won several years later), and read on the entry form that Nashville was the ‘place to be’ for songwriters.

She knew she needed to make the move.

“I came to Music City in the early eighties with a guitar, a grocery bag full of my songs on cassette and a big ole dream,” said Jan.

Jan networked her songs around town, with her signature fearless zeal, and within months she was going in to Nashville to write every day.

“It might have been in a vault at the Sound Stage Recording Studio, or in a closet at Tree Publishing, sandwiched in between Buddy Killen’s and Donna Hilley’s offices, but I went in to write every day,” said Jan. “I would also go out into the studio at the Sound Stage to play the grand piano in between sessions, until the players came back from lunch.”

Jan got to know a lot of the players and executives in town through her daily writing efforts.

“They might have thought I was a little crazy, but I didn’t care,” Jan recalls with a smile. “I had a passion for writing they could see and they were all pretty nice to me. Being a little busty blonde probably helped a bit too.”

Despite her work ethic and talent, it wasn’t always easy for Jan.

“Back then, no one wanted to write with a girl, and there weren’t many girls on the Row,” Jan remembers.  “But one day I met Wood Newton, who had just signed a publishing deal with House of Gold and he said he’d write with me.”

During that first session they wrote a song that would later become a hit, titled “Love Have Mercy.”

Jan knew they had something.  She believed in it so much, she drove in early one morning and waited outside of Bob Montgomery’s office on Music Row (he was then the head of House of Gold) for him to come into work. When Bob arrived, Jan jumped up and handed him a cassette of “Love Have Mercy” and said, “Bob, here’s money in the bank.”

Bob chuckled, but he did listen to the song. He ended up bumping another tune on a Janie Frickie album to record it. “Love Have Mercy” became both Jan and Wood’s first major artist cut.

After that, Jan signed with House of Gold, and later with Warner/Chappell, getting cut after cut for countless artists from Whitney Houston to Pam Tillis, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Brian White and The Osmonds to Air Supply and Melissa Manchester (click here for a full list).

While continuing to write, Jan moved to LA in 1990 where she worked as an actress in TV appearing in shows like Frasier and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and films like “Sgt. Bilko”. It was during this time that Jan penned songs featured in the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” “Hangin’ With The Homeboys,” “The Thing Called Love,” and many other feature films.

Jan also wrote the theme song to Hollywood Wives.

“I had just read an excerpt of Jackie Collin’s book “Hollywood Wives” in Cosmopolitan Magazine while on a flight to Los Angeles,” Jan recalls. “It was such a sleazy piece of grease that I couldn’t put it down and I knew someone would buy the rights.”

As it turned out, Aaron Spelling was going to produce it as a TV series. Jan finished the lyric on the plane and wrote the music to Hollywood Wives with Jeff Silber in Nashville.

When Jan had a demo of “Hollywood Wives,” she cornered Chuck Kaye, the head of publishing at Warner/Chappell on Sunset.

“I dragged him into his office to listen to the song,” said Jan. “Chuck passed me off to George Guim, who had just come to work for Warner/Chappell that day. I got Val Knust, greatest secretary in the world, to type up a letter that I dictated to her and then had George sign it. Val then got that letter and my song to Aaron Spelling that afternoon by messenger. I was blessed with some angels around me.”

The letter she dictated to said: ‘Dear Mr. Spelling, One of our top writers has just completed a song that we feel captures the essence of Hollywood Wives. Sincerely, George Guim.’

“I look back and have to laugh at my passion and what I’ll politely call gumption,” said Jan. “The next morning we got word that they were going to use my song as the theme song for the Hollywood Wives Mini Series. And it only happened because I didn’t know that you couldn’t do things like that. Sometimes it pays to be naïve.”

It’s that kind of tenacity in business, along with a rare creative gift and big heart, that makes Jan a successful songwriter with many hits to come.

Visit www.janbuckingham.com or www.reverbnation.com/janbuckingham to hear more.


February 5 2012

Mormons to Host Local Interfaith Music and Arts Festival in April


A group of Mormon musicians and artists is hosting a family-friendly music and arts festival on April 20-21 at the Wilson County Fairgrounds, about 30 minutes from Nashville, Tennessee.



Named Liahonaroo, the event will bring together artists and musicians from across the U.S. of all faiths to showcase their work in an outdoor festival setting. The name “Liahonaroo” was inspired by a compass called the Liahona that a Book of Mormon prophet named Lehi used to lead his family through the wilderness.

The event will be drug and alcohol free, and music performed will be appropriate for listeners of all ages. Ogden believes this will resonate with most Christians in the area, regardless of denomination.

“We wanted to create an event to celebrate positive and engaging music and art,” said Shantell Ogden, festival co-founder and performing songwriter.  “By hosting the event in a family-friendly venue, we hope to expand the reach of artists who deserve to showcase their talents.”

Shantell Ogden

Ogden feels this event will create an inclusive, welcoming experience for both fans and performers.

“I have a friend in a punk band who plays clubs regularly, and because of the environment and age restrictions his daughter hasn’t been able to see him perform,” said Ogden. “At Liahonaroo, artists and their fans won’t have to worry about things like that.”

Approximately 30 artists will be selected to perform at the two-day festival; all genres of family-friendly music are accepted.  While artists are asked to sell 10 tickets to the event as part of an artist agreement, they will also receive 50 percent of the ticket sales as payment for their performance.

The event will also include 20 booths for visual artists, jewelry makers and other related artists.

For more info, go to liahonaroo.com