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Home-grown talent
Budding Meldrim songwriter inks deal with Nashville group
nice smile
Michelle Aspinwall gets in some recording time in the studio. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

An aspiring local music artist has just signed a deal with Nashville publisher, Mark Stender and Nashville Music Supervision, as a songwriter and she couldn’t be happier.

Michelle Aspinwall, known now as Michelle Aspen, is taking a short break at home before going back to Nashville.

“I was born and raised in Meldrim, so it’s like the littlest town in the world, I think,” she said.
Aspinwall is a 2006 graduate of South Effingham High School. She admitted she didn’t make the best grades because her focus was on songwriting.

“I was writing songs since I was 11,” she said. “I’ve been in the studio since I was 13, getting them on paper. I have about 300 at least. So I decided I was going to move to Nashville, and then I found out that I was going to have a little boy.”
Her move to the Music City was put on hold for a couple of months — then her baby became sick with heart failure.

“We had to move up to Egleston Hospital, and we didn’t think he was going to make it,” Aspinwall said. “But he did, so I literally made a deal. I said, ‘God, you let my kid live, we move to Nashville.’ So when he was 4 months old, we did.”

Two years after that, she has performed at Tootsie’s and had the privilege of writing with Big Machine — “Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, people like that,” she said. “I was doing great, but I decided that I wanted to come home and spend some time with my family. They really missed us, so when we moved back home, lo and behold, two weeks later I signed a publishing deal.”

The publishing deal is about her songwriting and though the firm she has signed with is new, they have about 60 years together in the music business.

“What’s really neat about this publishing deal is they’re new,” Aspinwall said. “They’ve just put themselves in a new company. I can’t say that it’s going to be Lark and Creek, but I’ll be offered an artist’s deal in a few months, so that’s what I’m really, really looking forward to.

“Because I have so many (songs) I could sell, I don’t mind selling songs or writing for other people, but it’s really neat to have that opportunity to do my own thing and to be able to do it for me. I can’t wait — it’s kind of exciting.”

Aspinwall will be doing a preliminary album of about five or six songs, she said, in a couple of weeks.

She also said that Disney has just placed a hold on one of her songs, which means they are looking at having one of their stars sing or record it. Tiffany Giordino, an up and coming artist who has reached No. 13 on the Disney charts “fell in love with one of my songs,” Aspinwall said.
She wrote the song, “Speechless,” with one of her good friends.

“It’s just coming out of the woodwork,”  Aspinwall said.

She also talked about what it’s like to work in Music City and said she really got an education there.

“When I moved to Nashville, I was kind of under the pretense that I was going to move there, and I was good, so I could go and sing,” Aspinwall said. “I actually wrote a song about it called ‘Music Man,’ and it’s hilarious. It’s exactly what life is like when you get there, because you’re good, but so is everyone else. And everyone else wants exactly what you want.

“It was hard for me to accept that, because I just didn’t have that here, you know. There, it’s just like you’re a dime a dozen. Everybody’s there pushing for what you want, so I just had to get educated on what it is if you don’t have $500,000 to start, you’re kind of at the bottom, so thank God I can write. That’s what I’ve used to my advantage.”

She was also excited to hear about the future of the Mars Theatre.

“You know, I’m 22 now, but a big hindrance for me was the fact that there was nothing like that for me,” Aspinwall said. “It was Don’s (Don Coyer) studio or nothing. It was really discouraging because you have this dream. But it was always constantly squashed because the school band was doing a concert at the ballgame and you couldn’t exactly get out there, so that is perfect. There’s no telling what kind of talent will come out of that. That’s just inspirational to anybody with a dream right there, so it’s really cool.”

Aspinwall has been networking and meeting the right people. She related that while cutting a demo, one of the studio players liked what he heard. Since he also played with Tracy Lawrence, he took her CD to him and her talent wowed him.

“Everybody has been so helpful,” she said. “I met Taylor Swift when her first album came out and I just remember her looking at me and we were just talking and she was like, ‘I’ll see you at the top.’”

Aspinwall performed Sunday at a wedding at Bass Pro Shops in Savannah, where an Effingham County couple, Melissa Jenkins and Brandon Davis, was married after winning a radio station promotion.

“You know, I’m just now learning how to cook and clean,” she admitted, “so I’m not good at everything by far. Do not think I’m talented at all. Music is all whoever ends up marrying me has got to look forward to.”