Texas

Country artist Summer Dean is ready to kick off the party at the stock show and rodeo in Fort Worth.

Fornoff: You’re going to perform here at the stock show and rodeo at the Bud Light stage. Tell us how you became a singer-songwriter? first of all?

Dean: Of course. Well, I’ve always done that. I did it in college and then I started thinking, well, maybe this is not the way to go. It’s too risky. This is not what women do. (Such a thing.

So somehow I didn’t think about it. I’ve always done (music) in the background, but I’ve never gone all out. And then when I was about 30, the green lights just started coming into my life with writing and singing and stuff like that. Therefore, I began to pay more attention to this, watching what is in front of you and your path.

At the age of 39, I quit my regular teaching job for 10 or so years and decided to follow this path.

I think I write a lot more than I do anything else. And there’s more to it than just what people see. People see what is on the Internet and what is on stage. So I just decided to do it as a business and not as a hobby. It was pretty good. (I) am very proud of myself.

Fornoff: It takes a lot of courage. Can you lift the veil on some of the things that people don’t see when you’re doing it as a business and not as a hobby?

Dean: Absolutely. Well, everything is expensive these days, so some of the things I do behind the scenes are work on how to cut down on my overhead. And then there is the licensing and publication of songs. If a song that I write or that I own the rights to (I’m working on) puts it on the show or gets other artists to sing it and cover it. And then there’s booking all the shows with my agent, and then looking for opportunities with management, the label, all the way down to our social media analytics and all the streams.

I have finished writing and recording the next album. So now we do the album covers and all the titles that come with it, and then we hand over the songs to the artist and the person who is going to do it. Then it goes to the press where the vinyl is cut… and then you get the proofs. So we’re going through all of this right now.

Fornoff: Was it difficult to go from writing songs for yourself to letting someone else sing your songs?

Dean: I write every week. I try to do at least one (song) a week, and I will never allow myself to do less than one a week. This does not mean that each of them is good. Anyone will tell you this, in most cases they are bad. And you keep writing. You are stealing from yourself. It’s like, “I don’t like this song, but I really like this part.” And I’m going to turn it into a song. And you are constantly working on your craft.

When you write thinking about someone else, I think that somewhere deep inside you put yourself into it. Your style or recognition of what you write about. And then sometimes I write for myself and I’m like, “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this” or “Someone else should be doing this.” Who is it for? And we are working on sending it to these people and hope they like it.

You just keep working, knowing that maybe one in 20 will be good. One of my favorite songwriters, Bruce Robison, who I worked with to produce my next album, said, ‘It only takes one or two really good songs you write and the right person to sing them to completely change your career.’ That’s why I pay a lot of attention to it, because the overhead is very small.

It’s not expensive to write a song and bring it to people. When you travel by road, the overhead is high. You have to pay all the musicians, all the gas, all the hotels, all the food. So, as a business person, you have to look where you can make the most money. It doesn’t mean you don’t tour, but you should look at where you make the most money and try to make it more mainstream.

Fornoff: I’m sure it’s really hard to choose, but do you have a favorite song or two that you hope could be the one that turns the bucket over?

Dean: It’s funny. Your favorite songs are your favorite songs for a variety of reasons. There are favorite songs because you personally like them or I like where they came from. And what the public likes is usually the other way around. And that’s why you can have a favorite song because it brought you a lot of money or popularity. Or you may have a favorite song, even if almost no one listened to it, but personally you just like it.

The next album that’s coming out is full of songs that I’m really proud of. I am now 42. I have never been married, I have no children, and I write from this point of view. I don’t write love songs because I don’t. And I don’t write too many honky tonk songs because I’m 42 and I’m tired of not doing it anymore. You write what you know.

There are a lot of things on the next album that I’m proud of. I’m proud of the songs and I don’t know what the public will like.

When you let go of business and let art in, it’s like I should just do what I think is great and important and release it. Let the public think what they think and like what they like. You like different ones for different reasons. Like I said, if it helps my business, then this is my favorite song.

Fornoff: It’s not a point of view that we often hear, and it certainly isn’t (frequent) on top 40 hits or on radio. I’m curious where you got the courage to share this important but not always talked about story.

Dean: You know, it’s not necessarily a story about independence, like: “I don’t need a man, and he cheated on me, so I’ll burn his truck.” This is not the point of view I’m talking about. As I said before, you write about what you know. When you write all the time, you’re going to be writing about a lot of different things, and it just so happens that this perspective often came up. As a woman, I want to be honest and real. I write that I’m sad, or depressed, or lonely, or whatever … self-deprecatingly even because I don’t have a family, a husband, and all that. Women can relate to this feeling.

But also in terms of why I feel bad? It’s just life. Maybe this is not the norm, but the more I talk about it, the more normal it will be.

You asked what gives me the confidence that I’m so vulnerable in what I write: I’ll do it and sing it on stage, and women and men will come up after the show and join it. I think that’s what makes me want to keep going. For example, if you can keep a balance in your art, whether it be personal but at the same time effective and reaching (others), that is important. I mean it’s still just good old country music because I love it, but my next album has a lot more content than my previous ones.

Fornoff: Could you tell us about what your set list will look like this weekend and what to expect for the people who will go to the show?

Dean: You have to build your setlist around what you do, so this show is not about me and my songs. This show is about the legendary stock show and rodeo in Fort Worth. It’s a rodeo ranch weekend and people are at the rodeo and they’re going to party and have a good time and celebrate Fort Worth. We’re not going to fill the room with sad songs. We’re going to keep up the optimism with a lot of songs from the first two records. They will make people dance and play two steps. It will be a good time.

Fornoff: Is there anything else that I haven’t covered that you would like to mention or would like to know?

Dean: There are a lot of good bands playing and there are other tents. But it’s a whole experience (at the stock show and rodeo). You can come and shop at the trade show and watch the stock show and then stay the night to go to the rodeo and then go to the dance. It will be a great time and I hope to play a small part in helping you have a good time.Marcheta Fornoff covers art for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at [email protected] or call Twitter. At Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.



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