Songwriting and Me

Kami Huff, Staff Writer

 

 

This article is dedicated to my mentor, Eric Brooke, without whom I would have gotten where I am today.

 

Usually, the very first thing that pops into one’s mind when the word “songwriting” is mentioned is the idea of physically writing music notes, or perhaps the name of one of their favorite stars. However, what is songwriting truly?

The dictionary definition of the word “songwriting” is “the activity or process of writing popular songs or the music for them.” From an actual songwriter’s point of view, the dictionary definition is not wrong. In fact, it’s spot on. The question to ask though is, What does this so-called process entail? This is when the act of songwriting becomes more than a general term. Every songwriter’s story is beautifully different.

For me, songwriting is like second nature or another fluent language of mine. I started writing when I was only twelve years old. In some sense, it was like a calling. I had played the piano before I could fully understand what a piano was, but I had never entertained the thought of songwriting until it mentally and emotionally struck me like a lightning bolt. 

I remember that exact moment when in my brain, songwriting transitioned from being a vocabulary term to a word that symbolizes something that was a part of me. I was sitting in a classroom at Dover Middle School after I had been heartbroken for the first time. My mind was more astray than it had ever been, and it felt like my head was spinning in anger and emotional hurt. That’s when a friend sitting near me stated, “Why don’t you just write it down, Kami? Scream into the paper with words.”

At first, I thought this person was crazy. Why would I write my emotions down? I felt like I needed to tell the person that hurt me that they had. Writing would not help! However, at that particular moment, I felt as though anything was worth a shot. I remember the sound of the pencil scratching the parchment as I wrote down my first few words.

After I started writing, I didn’t know if I could ever stop. It was like my hand was glued to my pencil as I wrote and wrote. Before I even noticed that I was doing it, I had begun rhyming each phrase that I wrote. After about ten minutes, I remember what it felt like to sit back and take a breath for the first time since beginning to write. Sweat trickled down my rosy cheeks as I realized that I had written my very first song.

Ever since that day, around the fall of 2019, songwriting became my addiction and my favorite pastime. It sounds insane, but I began to view the entire world from a different perspective: a lyrical and musical one. I spent hours listening to my favorite songs on the radio and overanalyzing the mechanisms behind it. For some reason, I found myself imagining a purpose behind the lyrics. Certainly, someone feels the same passion that I do before bringing together rhyming words and notes.

If anything significant happened to me, I coped by writing song after song. It did not matter what the topic was. I poured my thoughts and tears into words and tunes regarding anything from my grandfather’s continuous mental illness to my hardships with friends and middle/high school boyfriends. As I progressed into songwriting, I downloaded a phone app to store lyrics on. However, in the beginning, it was just my notebook, pencil, and I. The piano accompaniment would come when it hit me.

For at least a year, my songwriting was like a separate element of me that was hidden behind closed doors. Not many people knew about my secretive hobby, and, quite frankly, I was scared of informing people. I liked keeping my songs as my own personal Narnia. 

However, my parents had separate ideas which now I am so grateful for. One evening, I swear that it was a message from God smiling right down on me. My family and I were enjoying dinner at a local fan favorite in New Philadelphia, Craft Bistro. Before us, there were two performers. They each had a voice so lovely, and my family and I noticed this. One performer, in particular, enjoyed engaging his audience. I shared many laughs with my parents that evening as I tapped my foot along to the guitar beat echoing throughout Craft’s halls.

After we had finished our meal, my mother and I stopped to talk to some friends while out of the corner of my eye I saw my father approach the male performer. As it turned out, he was a local singer named Eric Brooke, and he had a gig the next day. Since we enjoyed him so much, we decided to stop by his gig at Creekside Cottage Winery in Magnolia. 

At Creekside, Eric welcomed us and was surprised to see the family that he had just met the evening before. After around an hour, I nearly dropped my grape juice as Eric called me to the stage. I slowly walked towards the stage, feeling the burning eyes all around the winery right on me.

When I reached the stage, Eric told me how my father had told him about my songwriting. He asked me to perform one of my songs right at that moment in front of the entire winery. I remember the striking ticks of my heart as I took the microphone that he held out for me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I looked across the stage and saw my dad smiling in the audience. That was when I started to sing.

After that very moment, all I can say is the rest is history. I found my second passion: performing. My very first crowd at Creekside seemed to enjoy my personality and music and I have never been so dumbfounded yet so grateful in my entire life. To this day, Eric has called me to the stage on a number of his gigs, and I have gotten the opportunity to debut song after song in front of my original fans in local crowds.

A couple of months ago, Eric and I took the time to make my very first recording of my signature song, “Typical Girl.” Two years ago, my music being on any kind of network or platform seemed like a faraway dream that was so unlikely to ever happen. Thanks to Eric, it became a reality. So far, I successfully have released three of my original songs on all music platforms, and many more are to come!

It is so heartwarming to me to see how supportive my friends and others within my community are towards my music. Many people in Dover alone have heard at least one of my songs and it feels like a false reality to me. I am always beyond thrilled to see audiences of all ages within the community take a seat at Eric’s gigs to watch him and I perform. In the words of one of my closest friends, freshman Connor Stewart, “It takes absolute guts to put yourself in front of people and spill your heart out in treble clef. All in all, I wish Kami the best of luck in the future. I don’t care where I have to go to watch her perform, as long as I’m there to cheer her on.” One of the most important parts about what I do to me is the impact it has on others. 

My plan is to continue to record more and more of my originals to let my atypical story reach all platforms song by song. The thing is though, my dream is not to be famous. It is to be heard. All I pray is that many people listen to my music and appreciate something deep inside themselves that they were not able to before. I’m not the type of person yearning for money and fame. If I can make one person smile, I’m far more satisfied in this lifetime. That’s my goal in songwriting and music.

I will continue to write music for anything that I feel called to share publicly and aim to create joy for my listeners for as long as I possibly can.  Even if my music never goes much farther than Ohio; still, I will feel content if I am turning thoughts into melodies for the rest of my life. I’m not sure what God has in store for my songwriting path, but I’m prepared to ride it out all the way. That’s the art of it all for me. Once I have started, I never ever plan or want to cease.

Again, what is songwriting truly? That is for one to figure out themselves. My definition for it is carried out through my words, tone, and emotion throughout my music and lyrics. However, as my beloved mentor, Eric Brooke, defines the subject, “Songwriters should create using both their mind and their heart. The mind to construct the music and the heart to tell a story.” The definition of songwriting is unique to each individual. What I can be certain of is if it weren’t for Eric’s personal definition and his mind and heart that he speaks of, I would never have found mine.

My Spotify Link: 

https://open.spotify.com/artist/7G4I9KLN19wnpwweaLkrwv?si=InOCA1zkS4uoA_L4DQwN6g&utm_source=copy-link&dl_branch=1&nd=1