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Connie Janes, Cheryl Newton, June Bjorge, and Laura Dickey (left to right) discuss ideas for new songs at Monday’s meeting. Breana Noble | Col­legian

After a restless night in January, June Bjorge had the words of an 1830s poem on her mind.

The poem was by Sandord Tracy, the great-great-uncle of a friend, and, after reading the verses about finding rest, the Adrian res­ident said she knew she needed to turn it into a song. On that January morning, when she looked at the pond in her backyard, a chorus for the poem came to her, she said.

“It’s amazing how God works, because when I sat down to write this, I had no idea what the chorus would be,” Bjorge said. “I prayed for that, and one day, it came out of the blue. But they don’t always come that way.”

For days like that, Bjorge said she is thankful to be a part of Song­writers Grounded in Grace. The group of local song­writers, who range from years of expe­rience to new­comers, meets the first Monday of every month 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Grounded in Grace Coffee House in the Jonesville First Pres­by­terian Church. Par­tic­i­pants learn about the song­writing process, col­lab­orate, get feedback on pieces, and seek to take their work to the next level.

Three years ago, Laura Dickey began Song­writers GIG with a few other women she met at a song­writing workshop in Spring Arbor, after a Nashville Song­writers Asso­ci­ation Inter­na­tional group in Cold­water stopped gath­ering.

“I missed having a local meeting to go to,” Dickey said.

The group chose Jonesville for its central location between Jackson and Cold­water and has worked with many artists of dif­ferent abil­ities and skills who have come and gone over the years. The ability to read music, play an instrument, or sing well is not required.

Song­writers GIG has con­nec­tions in Hillsdale College’s music department and at the Gospel Barn in Hillsdale. It pro­motes work­shops across the country for members to attend and receive cri­tiques of their work and make con­nec­tions within the business. The group also holds an annual concert with pieces from its members and an annual song­writing workshop. On May 20, song­writer and pub­lisher Dave Clark, who has written more than 25 No. 1 Christian songs, will lead the group’s workshop at Camden Mis­sionary Church.

On Monday night, the group members dis­cussed the impor­tance of devoting time to song­writing, as they sit around a table covered in lyric and musical com­po­sition sheets and cards that read a Suzy Kassem quote: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” After, several shared songs on which they had been working. The artists pro­vided feedback, offering sug­ges­tions on structure, diction, and music.

In addition to improving local song­writers, the group encourages its members to pursue this love, whether it is just a hobby, for a per­for­mance at church, or perhaps preparing for some­thing more, they said.

“It’s pushed me to do some­thing with it,” Cheryl Newton of Walden said. “It gives you more direction and passion for what you’ve been doing. They encouraged me. It gives you hope, and you’ll see what happens.”

For some, the group also teaches its members what oes into writing a song from rhyme scheme and rhythm to structure and flow.

“I had no idea song­writing took so much effort,” Bjorge said. “I had no idea I had to con­sider so many things.”

For that reason, Song­writers GIG offers a sup­portive com­munity for people who express their cre­ativity in a similar way, Dickey said.

“You find out, ‘I’m not just weird — there’s people like me,’” she said.

Although Dickey orig­i­nally worked in edu­cation, as her love of music grew, she said she decided to audit courses at Spring Arbor Uni­versity to learn more theory and com­po­sition. She said she goes to song­writing work­shops to learn as much as she can to share with the group.

“The Lord con­victs me, ‘This is what you’re sup­posed to do,’” she said. “And as I teach others, I grow.”

Most recently, Dickey wrote a com­munion song and solicited the help of Debbie Wyse, a Hillsdale College music teacher, to do a piano arrangement so Dickey can submit the song for a formal cri­tique. Wyse had come to a Song­writers GIG meeting in 2015, where she said she learned a lot about song­writing, though she does not do much of it herself.

“I know how much time it takes to get any­thing pol­ished,” Wyse said. “It was really pos­itive time. I think we worked really well as a team. It’s really uplifting to put together some­thing that can give glory to God.”

The group’s members said song­writing ben­efits them in dif­ferent ways. Newton said it is her therapy.

“My best stuff has just come from when I’ve been bur­dened,” Newton said. “I write out my thoughts and feelings. Then, you share it with someone else, and it’s a double blessing.”

For others, it is nos­talgic and allows them to become involved in music. Connie Janes of Som­erset recalled how his father would sing and dance every morning, when he was a child.

“It’s fun to create some­thing and write some­thing down that’s never been heard,” Janes said. “For those who can do it, you’re blessed.”

Although Song­writers GIG is a Christian group, artists can share songs of all genres so long as they are clean, Dickey said.

For her, the group strengthens her voice in the songs she writes, she said.

“It’s about getting your story out,” Dickey said. “We help you spread the message that you want to present.”’