GWU Distinguished Artist Series Hosts Event for Aspiring Songwriters

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Three Accomplished Composers Will Share Advice and Critique Compositions

An image of songwriter Steve Simpson posing with his guitar.
Steve Simpson

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Aspiring songwriters will have the opportunity to share their compositions with three accomplished composers in a workshop and concert at Gardner-Webb University on Jan. 12. Presented by the School of Performing and Visual Arts Distinguished Artists Series, the free event features Fiona McAllister, Glenn Selby and Steve Simpson.

The workshop is open to the public and will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Gardner Recital Hall in the O. Max Gardner building. The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. in Blanton Auditorium, located in Hamrick Hall.

Attendees should bring three copies of their original songs to perform for the guest artists. “At the workshop, the three songwriters will teach songwriting, lyrics, melodies, chord progressions and substitutions, give critiques on your songs in a song circle, and talk about the publishing and music business,” related Dr. Patricia Sparti, GWU professor of music. “They will also discuss the ‘Best practices of Successful Songwriters.’ After a break for dinner, the concert follows. All three songwriters will swap songs, and the program includes performances by singer/songwriter Kevin Bridges, the GWU AcaFelons, and others.”

Selby has a Bachelor of Music with a minor in music business from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Having worked as a music publisher in Nashville, Selby has been affiliated with songwriters since 1985. His roles have included publisher, producer, mentor, contest judge, and co-writer. Currently, the official mentor for Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Charlotte Chapter, his focus has been to share deliberate approaches to songwriting and the entire songwriting process. Selby says these techniques have been used for over 80 years.

Simpson has been writing songs as a hobby for 20 years, and performs them regularly at acoustic music venues in the Carolinas. He has won numerous songwriting contests. In 2006, he released his first CD, “Better Late,” and in 2013, he released his second CD, “Dusty Lawn Chairs.” Simpson has been a member of the NSAI for 20 years, and is currently one of the coordinators of the Rock Hill, S.C., chapter.

An image of songwriter Fiona McAllister standing behind a microphone.
Fiona McAllister

McAllister is a co-coordinator for the NSAI Charlotte Chapter. She is trained in song construction and evaluation by the NSAI in Nashville. A multi-instrumentalist, she performs 13 instruments in a program called, “Strings and Things,” for local schools. She plays Celtic hammered dulcimer and harp for weddings and has a hammered dulcimer CD. She performed in contemporary Christian groups and Shepherds Pie folk group for years. “My favorite thing about working with the songwriting community is helping people gain the skills and courage to share what is unique about them,” she shares. “That is where the skill and the artistry meet.”

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-2155 or email with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants in the global community. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb is a place where Christian conviction meets intellectual freedom. Ignite your future at