Since 2010 he has served as CEO of the Jacksonville Medical Center, but a successful career in hospital administration is but one aspect of his life. There is another passion Edmondson has been cultivating since he was a teenager growing up on a large cattle farm in Oklahoma – that of a professional songwriter.
“It’s a long shot,” he says, laughing. “But it never hurts to dream.”
Since he was 16, bouncing around in various local garage bands, Edmondson has spent more than 30 years writing music. He is now hoping to strike a chord with aspiring songwriters in the Calhoun County area by founding a local chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), which meets the second Thursday of each month in the basement boardroom of the hospital from 6-9 p.m.
“There’s a real craft to songwriting,” Edmondson says. “It starts with a strong opening line, a length of about three-and-a-half minutes, rhyming scheme and, believe it or not, a syllable count. It’s something that we can learn and teach each other.”
Half of the class is dedicated to the craft of songwriting while the second half focuses on feedback. Each session includes videos and tutorial programs from NSAI featuring established songwriters discussing what it takes to write a good song. Afterward, participants are asked to share what they’ve written. Some bring guitars to play, while others have CDs of their performances.
“Whatever people want to share, we’re there to listen,” Edmondson says. “Some bring in songs that are polished and well-produced and others bring in songs that are raw – just them and a guitar. Some people have lyrics they just read out loud and are looking for a musical partner, a co-writer.”
Edmondson is quick to point out that just because it’s based in Nashville, NSAI isn’t just for country and western songwriters. Rather, he estimates some 30 percent of their songwriters are Christian while many are pop, rock, hip-hop and country.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” he says. “NSAI is for all kinds of songwriters.”
It was in college that Edmondson made a friend with the same passion for music. But life took its toll and the two went their separate ways after graduation. Two decades later, they again crossed paths when Edmondson was working for a hospital some 70 miles outside of Nashville, where his old friend was working as a full-time songwriter for Sony Music. His inspiration ignited, Edmondson made numerous contacts in Nashville where he began working steadily with talented young co-writers.
More than two years ago, Edmondson joined NSAI and went through “Songposium,” an annual event featuring hundreds of classes on numerous topics – all led by some of the most accomplished songwriters in the industry. He wrote the 10-year anniversary song for publicly traded LifePoint Hospitals in Brentwood, Tenn, while also founding and coordinating The Songwriter’s Dream in Pulaski, Tenn, an event that features hit writers like Pam Rose, Tim Nichols, Chuck Cannon and Tia Sillers as well as aspiring NSAI writers in five yearly performances. The Songwriter’s Dream raises money to develop a songwriting curriculum at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski.
But when Edmondson left Tennessee and moved to Jacksonville, he lost most of his songwriting contacts in the process. He briefly attended meetings at the Birmingham chapter of NSAI, but the constant commute for meetings and to develop relationships became too difficult. Thus, he decided to found his own chapter.
“I’m a facilitator,” Edmondson says, “because I have no measure of success in the business.”
That isn’t exactly true. He has one song, “Coming Home” that is currently with four publishers, though it hasn’t yet been picked up by a recording artist.
“It’s a song about someone who’s dying and knows that they’re dying,” he explains, adding that the inspiration had nothing to do with his career as a hospital administrator.
“There could be worse ways to go. Funny thing is that I don’t even think it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written. It just goes to prove that you never know what’ll speak to people. Still, it’s something I’m pretty proud of.”
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com
Want to participate?
The NSAI Anniston/Jacksonville Chapter meets the second Thursday of each month, 6-9 p.m. in the basement boardroom of the Jacksonville Medical Center.
Participants don’t need to be NSAI members to participate.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian.
Admission is free.
For more information, contact Jim Edmondson at 256-405-7537 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.