The art of writing has so many intricacies. There are novels, blogs, press releases, poems and countless other facets that take months, sometimes years, before a hobby is crafted into a self-sustaining career. While it’s subjective to determine which writing style is more rewarding, one of the most challenging formats to master, is songwriting.
Writing a song involves not just simple song lyrics, but finding the perfect melody, harmony, lyrics and structure to accompany the deep personal feelings that are expressed through song.
For Fernandina Beach native, Westin Davis, writing songs has always come naturally. But it wasn’t until he packed up everything he owned and moved to Nashville, Tenn., that he discovered how much work goes into true songwriting.
“I wrote my first song in the fourth grade. We lived in an area that had a lot of crime and my elementary school principal asked us to write a song to help stop the violence. My song ended up winning and was performed in front of the whole school,” said Davis.
After his song won the contest, Davis said he left songwriting alone and, like most boys his age, got into sports. It wasn’t until his family moved to Fernandina Beach that Davis started dabbling in writing again.
“When my family moved, I was 14, and back then, there was only one way in and one way out with nothing to do,” said 33-year-old Davis. “So after visiting my aunt and uncle in Nashville, I picked up a guitar and started writing songs again.”
A few years after picking up the hobby again, Davis knew he had the talent to make it professionally. So he packed up everything he owned and made the move to the country music capital of the world: Nashville.
“When I first moved to Nashville, I found out my songs were terrible. But moving here taught me how to treat songwriting like a job,” he said. “I write about 140 songs a year in what we call ‘writing rooms.’ It’s real work. Sometimes you’ll go into a writing room at 8 a.m. and come out at 8 p.m. The mental stress is sometimes wearing, but it’s worth it.”
It’s this process that Davis enjoys the most; not because he wants to put out a song just for the sake of making a couple bucks, but rather to create something lasting.
“I try to write songs that are more real and songs that will stick around for years,” said Davis. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll write songs that make you want to tap your feet and drink a cold beer, but the work I’m most proud of is when you can still feel something from a song 10 years later.”
Naturally the more you write, the better you get. And treating writing like a job has landed Davis ongoing roles writing for some of country’s biggest acts in Thompson Square, Cole Swindell and Parmalee. But his biggest success continues to be his work with fellow South Georgia/North Florida native and best selling artist, Kip Moore.
“Kip and I come from the same area, so we share the same heartbeat, the same values. We’re best friends and we work really well together. The song we co-wrote together, ‘Young Love,’ is something that I’m very proud of because it really makes people feel emotionally connected to the song,” said Davis.
As for the near future, Davis is excited for Moore’s sophomore album to release later this summer, but admits he doesn’t like to plan his career too far in advance.
“I’m not here to chase the radio. I’m here to write good songs and to do that, you can’t look too far ahead. You have to go with the flow and take it day to day. So that’s what I do.”