Darden Smith

Darden Smith is an Austin-based singer-songwriter who redefines what it means to be a musician. With fourteen critically acclaimed albums in a career that spans almost three decades, Smith continues to write and tour across the US and Europe along with exploring new and innovative ways to use the craft of songwriting in education, entrepreneurship studies, and service.

Recording since 1986 from Austin, to New York and Nashville, from London to Los Angeles, his albums weave together rock, pop, country, folk and Americana influences with the musical roots of his home state of Texas. He has long transcended traditional singer-songwriter boundaries, and the evolving nature of his work since 2000 reflects his consistent creative excellence.

Smith founded The Be An Artist Program nearly a decade ago, and his seminars to encourage students to explore their own creativity and interests have reached more than 15,000 students across the United States and Western Europe. His SongwritingWith collaborations find him teaming with, among others, U.S. soldiers transitioning to civilian life after combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, homeless youth in New Jersey and HIV-affected villagers in Africa. Darden also adapts his programs for corporate retreats and conflict-resolution workshops.

While continuing to expand his SongwritingWith collaborations and tour regularly, Smith is currently Artist-In-Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Institute for Creativity and Innovation, where he seeks to share with students the challenges, joys and know-how in succeeding in creative business pursuits. His workshops and creativity sessions for Fortune 500 companies use songwriting to inspire new ways to listen, collaborate and learn in the traditional work environment.

Smith’s latest album, “Love Calling,” was recorded and produced in Nashville during the spring of 2012 and was released August 27, 2013 on Compass Records.

Granville Automatic

Led by a modern-day Linda Ronstadt, Granville Automatic writes songs the Associated Press calls “haunting tales of sorrow and perseverance.” With influences as diverse as Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams, The Smiths and Dawes, Granville Automatic has created a quiet and lyrical sound that revolves around their passion for storytelling. The duo, comprised of BMG Nashville songwriters Vanessa Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins, is named after a 19th-century typewriter.

The girls’ devotion to the project has proved a chaotic road of back-breaking touring, interpersonal tension, former-day-job balancing, other-band leaving, and a love-hate dynamic that brought them from Atlanta to Nashville. Theirs is a creative partnership reminiscent of Lennon-McCartney, a dreamer-doer, accessible-obtuse, country-rock collision of two polar opposites. What the two share, however, is a love for nostalgia: old records and antiques, tarot cards and dusty books, ghosts on battlefields and lost stories from the past. That common ground has produced three albums widely praised from The New York Times to an Editor’s Pick in No Depression.

Currently, Granville Automatic is hard at work on their forthcoming studio album, RADIO HYMNS. The project, similar in approach to the lauded 2015 record AN ARMY WITHOUT MUSIC: Civil War Stories from Hallowed Ground, will focus on the city of Nashville and the historic buildings and spaces that are being threatened by the area’s unprecedented growth. By focusing on the little-known stories that make those vanishing landmarks sacred to Nashville, the girls hope to unearth a new perspective on an area that was forging a unique identity long before it became known as Music City. Conversations are currently underway with prominent Nashville songwriters and producers who have expressed interest in leaving their thumbprints on what will be a heartfelt love letter to the history of the city they call home. In a town where the songwriting bar is set high by their heroes John Prine, Jason Isbell and Jim Lauderdale, Granville Automatic believes they can leave a unique mark on Americana music.

Olivarez and Elkins have written songs recorded by country stars Billy Currington (the single “Drinkin’ Town With A Football Problem”), Sugarland, Wanda Jackson, Angaleena Presley and numerous others. Their songwriting led them to a coveted Composers in Residence spot at Seaside, Fla.’s Escape to Create program. They’ve appeared on PBS’ Sun Studio Sessions and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. You may have heard their songs on ABC’s American Crime and The Lying Game, as well as Netflix’s The Ranch. Their tour schedule has been as frenzied as 200 shows a year, including stops at SXSW, the Key West, Island Hopper and 30A Songwriters festivals and Tin Pan South. They’ve played at venues from the legendary Joshua Tree roadhouse Pappy & Harriet’s to Texas’ haunted Gruene Hall to listening rooms such as The Tin Angel (Philadelphia), Club Passim (Boston), Eddie’s Attic (Atlanta), The Station Inn and Music City Roots (Nashville) and Rockwood Music Hall (NYC).

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