Country Music Hall of Fame to Launch Words and Music: Journey of a Song Series

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photo from Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will launch an online video series, Words & Music: Journey of a Song, on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The five-episode educational series follows four teenage songwriters through an immersive experience crafting and presenting their original songs with support from professional songwriters.

The series will chronicle each student’s creative journey, from collaborating with a professional songwriter to recording and performing their original song. The weekly series will premiere on the museum’s YouTube channel and its website on Wednesdays beginning on Dec. 13. The first four episodes will each focus on one of the student’s experiences through workshopping the song, co-writing with a mentor songwriter, recording the song, and then adapting the song for the stage. In the final episode, the four students perform for a live audience in the museum’s CMA Theater and share reflections on their experience.

The immersive experience was designed by museum educators as an extension of the museum’s flagship education program, Words & Music, which promotes language-arts skills by pairing students with professional songwriters to create original songs in the classroom. The experience was filmed and edited by the museum’s award-winning creative team.

“Through Words & Music: Journey of a Song, students were given the unique opportunity to expand their skills, collaborate with professionals and learn to stay true to their own creative voices,” said Katie Palmer, the museum’s senior director of education and community engagement. “We hope the series will encourage youth and families — and anyone who has not previously tried songwriting — to experience it.”

Viewers will also be able to download a step-by-step guide to writing song lyrics available for free on the museum’s website. The guide — which includes supplemental video content — encourages users to write their own lyrics and share on their social channels. For teens (ages 13-18) who participate with Words & Music: Journey of a Song, the museum will offer a lyric-writing contest. The winner will receive a trip to Nashville and a full scholarship to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Beginner-to-Intermediate Summer Songwriting Camp next June. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

The students and songs featured in the episodes include:

Episode 1: “Peter in the Garden” (premieres on Dec. 13)
A senior at Lipscomb Academy at the time of filming, Abby Whitman has participated in Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum songwriting programs since 2019. She also performed in musical theater productions in high school and plans to pursue a performance or music business degree in college. Columbia Nashville recording artist and songwriter Tenille Townes’ songs include “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” (Tenille Townes), “Somebody’s Daughter” (Tenille Townes) and “The Thing That Wrecks You” (Tenille Townes with Bryan Adams), among others. Whitman’s song is “Peter in the Garden.”

Episode 2: “Last Thing” (premieres on Dec. 20)
A sophomore at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School at the time of filming, Jazmine Croom has been writing songs in museum programs since 2019. In 2021, Croom was selected to perform her original song, “Go with the Flow,” at the museum’s Nightfall at the Hall concert. Songwriter, producer, arranger and executive Shannon Sanders’ songs include “Country Girl” (Rissi Palmer), “Lovesick” (Robert Randolph & the Family Band), “Video” and “Brown Skin” (Indie.Arie), among others. Croom’s song is “Last Thing.”

Episode 3: “Ticket” (premieres on Dec. 27)
Max Rees was a senior at Nashville School of the Arts (NSA) at the time of filming. During the school year, Max wrote and recorded several original songs as part of a songwriting and music education partnership between the museum and NSA. He grew up playing trumpet in his family band and usually writes songs with his twin brother. Max also plays guitar, bass, mandolin and whatever other instrument he can get his hands on. Monument Records recording artist and songwriter Caitlyn Smith’s songs include “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (Meghan Trainor and John Legend), “Wasting All These Tears” (Cassadee Pope), “You Can’t Make Old Friends” (Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers), “I Can’t” (Caitlyn Smith, featuring Old Dominion) and more. Rees’ song is “Ticket.”

Episode 4: “Kenopsia” (premieres on Jan. 3)
Avalon Simpson was a senior at Nashville School of the Arts (NSA) at the time of filming and also a part of the songwriting and music education partnership between the museum and NSA. Avalon performed an original song to open Lauren Daigle’s Ryman appearance as part of the partnership, and she often performs with a local rock band. Songwriter and producer Cameron Bedell’s songs include “Breakups” (Seaforth) and “Found It in You” (Tiera Kennedy), among others. Simpson’s song is “Kenopsia.”

The final episode, which includes all four students’ performances of their songs, will premiere on Jan. 10.

Designed for grades 3-12, the museum’s Words & Music program embraces and showcases country music’s legacy of songwriting and passes it down to the next generation of writers and thinkers. Through Words & Music, students interact with a professional songwriter, paired with their class, in an engaging performance workshop that transforms students’ lyrics into finished songs. More than 10,000 students participate annually in the Words & Music program. More information on school programs and Words & Music can be found on the museum’s website.

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