Ladies of the South
I didn’t know that I was going to be a musician as a child, but I think in a primitive way I knew I would be an entertainer. I was always performing for my stuffed animals, my grandparents or really anyone that would watch and listen.
I also knew that I wanted to visit the UK. As a child, I loved all the great programs that PBS would bring over from the UK like Monty Python and Doctor Who. So last year, when I got a chance to go to the UK as a speaker and performer, it was a dream come true. Though I had been to the UK and Europe as a child and tourist, this was truly an amazing experience because, in a way, I was coming home--all that culture that had entertained and influenced me from the Brit-coms to the music of the Beatles and the Smiths as a child and later a teenager. Well, I was able to soak it in even more and at the same time give back to a place whose music and people had meant so much to me. I should pause here and mention that I was a very sick child and spent a lot of time in the hospital from issues from the brain tumor that took my sight. These British books, movies, TV shows and music were a big part of my way of focusing on happy things and not being a scared little boy.
Okay, so why am I telling you my life story?
Because without the tour of the UK I did last year, the rest of the story about southern music I want to share in this article wouldn’t have happened.
As you know by now, I love all things Macon and think we have had music that comes from our shining city on the hill as meaningful as any music city, London, NYC, LA, Nashville. When I moved here at the age of 15, I became obsessed with Macon’s musical heritage and its future--and I still am. I am proud that we can call Otis Redding, Little Richard, Jason Aldean, the Allman Brothers, Wet Willie and many more artists and bands home folk!
I have been proud to be a music educator and producer here in Macon for the past 20 years and have had the privilege of producing some artists from Macon and the south that are as good as anything out there!
Last year when I was on tour speaking and performing in the UK, I met Charlie Hoskins who has become a good friend and co-writer. If you don’t write music for a living, you might not understand that co-writing with someone is something you shouldn’t undertake unless you have a lot of respect for each other and a good friendship. To date, I have co-written with very few people because writing is a very spiritual and personal experience for me and it is not something I do with just anyone.
Charlie and I hit it off at once and promised to write together or collaborate in some way. That was March of 2015. We kept in touch, but my schedule was so crazy that I didn’t have a chance to follow up with Charlie until December of last year when Charlie sent me 2 MP3’s of music he had recorded. He didn’t have a melody or lyrics and asked me if I would like to come up with something. I loved what he sent and started writing over the Christmas holidays, but then started running out of time again to work on the project. Then this year, my wife and father both had some major health problems. They are doing well now, but it was a hard time and I stuck closer to home to try to be of some assistance to them. Because of this, I worked a less hectic schedule and had time to really start working on Charlie’s music and it went so well that we decided to form a side project band called “The Shadow Bandits” and we now have seven songs written and in some form of recorded state. And here is the payoff for reading so far. Charlie is an accomplished producer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with some well-known artists and musicians. In fact, he is the founding member of the band the Popes. One day, I got an email that introduced me to two of Charlie’s mates, Will Morrison, of the band Modern English, and Paul McGuinness of the Pogues. Together we wrote a song called “What You See Aint What You Get”. I knew we had written a great song, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it because it was written for a female vocalist to sing.
I knew at once that I wanted my long-time friend and Georgia treasure Sue Wilkinson, aka Sue Lu, to sing it, but again, I just didn’t know what to do to give the song life or how I would find an audience to enjoy the work we had done. And then it hit me! Over the years of producing music, I had produced some amazing female artists from the south. what if we celebrated those artists with an all-female artist compilation and just like that “Joey Stuckey Presents Ladies of the South” was born.
This compilation features 12 songs either written, performed or both, by truly remarkable female artists and most of them from Georgia and Macon.
First up is the track I wrote with Charlie, Will and Paul called “What You See Ain’t What You Get” performed by myself and the rest of my co-writers and Sue Lu on vocals that will melt your face off!
The song is about how women have always played such important roles in our society from mothers, to warriors, to CEOs! This track really sets the tone as the remaining 11 tracks share all the amazing things that women are and can express.
Check out the video here:
Track 2 is “Everybody’s Pretty” by Kim Meeks. Besides being a good friend of mine and a great Macon talent, Kim was one of the featured artists on the first Macon Music CD that I partnered with NewTown Macon to create in 2015.
The third track was written by good friend and all around music guru Hugh Hession and performed by vocalist Camille Scoggins with fiddle performed by the legendary Sue Tomlin.
Hugh’s song “Start Over” is country music at its finest and a real romantic track, don’t blame me if you hear this and get back together with that crazy person you just broke up with!
At track number 4, I featured Someday Merry. This band hails from Warner Robins and features Eline Chavez on vocals. This song “With You” is a powerful indie rock ballad of longing that is sure to resonate if you have ever been away from your loved ones for a prolonged time.
Track 5 is really special. Back in 2007 I met an incredible artist over the internet. She lives in Malaysia, but, we work together on her music, so all the musicians I bring to her music are from right here in Macon. She cuts her vocals overseas and sends to me for me to mix and master, so I think of her as an honorary southerner!
Her name? Vanessa Moses. We have been working together for years and her talent is a once in a lifetime kind of talent. I honestly can’t describe her--you just have to listen for yourself. Her song” Danish Cookies Is My Name” is truly infectious.
Check out the video here:
Track 6 “Box Labeled Questions” was written by Tyler Moore and has an interesting story. Tyler came into my studio to record some songs he had written for a friend, Kimberly Lochner-. You have probably seen her around town in different musical theatre productions here in Macon, and what a voice! I loved Tyler’s songwriting so much, I signed him to a publishing deal and started recording his catalog. I brought in my buddy Tom Rule on keyboard, Mark Williams on drums and myself on guitar and bass and got my secret weapon for female vocals, Camille Scoggins, and this song about trying to make good life choices was done and out the door!
Track 7 “Lonely Boulevard” is dear to my heart because of the young lady that wrote and performed it. Her name is not new to you especially if you have been to any play at MDS over the past 2 or 3 years as she has played many of the female leads there. She has also performed a lot around town. I first met Katherine Daniel as a guitar student of mine. One day we were working on a guitar part and I told her to sing the rhythm knowing that if she could sing it, she could play it. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard her sing and from that moment on, I started teaching her voice instead of guitar and she started working on her original music. This song is pop goodness and a really radio friendly track.
Track 8 comes from a band that has the best country music around--really country, not pop country--it is honest and powerful and the lyrical content is just great. I am of course talking about “The Vineyard Band” and their song “Letting Go”.
This song is moving in a way that only country can be and the lead vocals by another vocal student of mine, Amber Pierce are just top notch. The viola track is also performed by a female Macon artist, Heidi Clinite.
At number 9 is Louise Warren, another young lady I have had the great privilege to work with for a long time. She has been a vocal student and friend forever and a day. This song “Home” was featured on 13 WMAZ during the 2013 Super Bowl and showcases Macon’s music like only she can.
The tenth spot on the album goes to songwriter Doc Henderson. I always enjoy working with Doc, he is a true renaissance man and I co-wrote this song “Lately (Morning Dove, Mourning Sparrow)” with him last year. We brought Kim Meeks in to bring out the blues sound of this track with her vocal perfection.
Song number 11 is written by someone that has a heart as big as the state of Georgia. Stacy Hostler does contemporary Christian the way it was meant to be experienced--by the ears and straight to the heart. Yes, she is a great singer and songwriter, but her spirit of service and worship is what really gets your attention. Stacy has overcome a lot as a stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor. As a brain tumor survivor, I understand better than most what this means. I am glad to report that after undergoing both chemo and radiation, today she is currently in full remission. What a blessing!
For the final slot on the album, I chose another contemporary Christian composition and an I wanted to highlight a band that has some of the best musicians in Warner Robins and Macon playing on it and a one of a kind song writer, Bo Samonns. With Bo’s writing and the vocal prowess of Rachael Elkins, a kickin’ female phenomenon if I’ve ever heard one, you just don’t get better music! This song is also a cool way to end the compilation because it talks about a blind man, and well, you know, at least for this record, that’s me.
Are you still there?
I know this is the longest article I have done for Gateway, but I am so proud of the talent we have here in Georgia and the world class female artists that call middle Georgia home that I just had to brag. Also, it is exciting that artists and songwriters from the UK love Macon’s music and want to work with artists from this area.
I literary could go on and on about all the amazing people from session musicians to the artwork team that made the cover for our project, but I have already written enough. I will just end by saying that if you want to learn more about all this talent, please take a moment and go to www.ladiesofthesouthmusic.com and check them out. One final note, when you look at the cover art and wonder how we got a supermodel to pose for the cover, I will proudly tell you that my dear friend Ginger Huff, a real life entrepreneur graces the cover. In fact, we are holding a CD release party at her businesses in Bonaire at Wild Organic Juice Company and Salon Fusion on Friday, August 26th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm and would love to see you there. There will be free food music and fellowship, just go the website www.ladiesofthesouthmusic.com for more details!