In 1992, NSAI was working to refocus its mission based on the idea of raising the profile of the American songwriter, whether it be throughout the music industry or in Washington, D.C. NSAI needed magic to happen and it indeed turned out to be a magical time. The right people showed up at the right time to join the staff at NSAI, the professional songwriting community stepped up to claim their organization, we established our collective vision and it was all right on time.
Fred Knobloch, one of the most instrumental leaders in the professional membership ranks, always had great ideas. One day we were discussing how to raise some money and he said that a destination event like the Jazz Fest in New Orleans would be a great event. Songwriters would perform their own hits for the event and what better places to do this than the clubs around town who believed in our music community. It certainly had the potential to be a destination event for Nashville. So, after much discussion, we decided to try and pull off the event within just three months. Naivety was our strength in hindsight.
We needed a name for the event – a brand! One morning Beth Hall came running into my office exclaiming that she had it! Tin Pan South!!!! I wholeheartedly agreed.
Next we needed money to get a logo designed and materials printed. I figured I needed $10,000 to kick it off and we didn’t have that kind of money lying around. So, I called Dene Anton and invited her to come over to the office. I told her about our idea and asked her to help with the initial money. She said that we could apply to her foundation for the money but that it took a little time – something that we just didn’t have. She must have seen the disappointment in my face because I’ll never forget her saying to me – “Oh, I get it, you need the money now.” At which point, she reached in her purse and wrote me a personal check for $10,000. I was speechless!
Besides Tin Pan South and the committee structure that needed to be in place, we were able to kick Tin Pan South off during the week of our 15th Annual Spring Symposium, our 26th Annual Songwriter Achievement Awards, our 3rd Songwriter Day Camp and our 1st Songwriters Golf Classic. Pretty Amazing! The staff at NSAI - Mark Ford, Ed Corley, Mia Figlio, Donna Michael and Sara Light were all incredible! Our fabulous volunteers: Beth Hall, Sharon Eaves, Fred Knobloch, Alex Harvey, Jody Williams and well, the list is too long to mention. Thanks to everyone who stepped up to help. Of course, none of this would have been possible without our great, supportive Board of Directors and our President, Richard Leigh. It was some kind of week!
As I said before, naivety was our strength and if once, just once, we had stopped to say “this can’t be done,” we may not have pulled it off. But, here we are 20 years later and this is the proof that magic happens.
Happy Anniversary, Tin Pan South!
Former NSAI Executive Director