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Songs at the Center

SONGS AT THE CENTER is a new national music series featuring accomplished singer-songwriters performing "in the round" before a live audience. The weekly, half-hour program showcases three-to-four artists per episode, and includes interviews and short features. Songs at the Center is hosted and co-created by Eric Gnezda, an award-winning songwriter and Emmy-nominated TV journalist, who conceived the program based upon his decades of performing in venues across America, from concert and convention halls, to Nashville's iconic Bluebird Cafe.

Songs at the Center  
  • Friday, May 31
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Songs at the Center's season-ending compilation special features some of our season's most compelling artists doing great, original material we have never broadcast. All original and very compelling. From seasoned pros to young up-and-comers you will want to learn more about, our compilation shows always bring strong, positive audience response! MICAH KESSELRING was raised in the Appalachia foothills of southeastern Ohio. Cutting his teeth on the Columbus blues scene, he soon made his way to Memphis, TN, for the International Blues Challenge, representing the Columbus Blues Alliance in the Youth Showcase category. Following a performance at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street, he was awarded the inaugural Generation Blues scholarship at the age of 15. Micah later went on to perform as a special guest with the Otis Taylor Band at the Blues Music Awards in May of 2009 and was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge in 2016. MARC COHN shares fascinating stories about his creative process. After winning a Grammy Award for his soulful, iconic ballad, "Walking in Memphis," Marc has solidified his place as one of this generation's most compelling singer/songwriters, combining the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a great soul man. He's a natural storyteller, balancing the exuberant with the poignant, and able to distill universal truth out of his often romantic, drawn-from-life tales. TIME magazine calls Marc "one of the honest, emotional voices we need in this decade" and Bonnie Raitt declared, "Marc is one of the most soulful, talented artists I know. I love his songs, he's an incredible singer, and I marvel at his ability to mesmerize every audience he plays for." She, along with James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin all made guest appearances on Cohn's records for Atlantic. In 2016, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album, Marc proudly released Careful What you Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities and the bonus album, Evolution of a Record, featuring never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his debut and the Grammy that followed. SADIE JOHNSON & GRACE MATOMBE are students at Marietta College, who we discovered in our Songwriting Workshops. Sadie first picked up the guitar at the age of six and has since developed into an inspiring blues guitarist, composer and performer. Recently opening for Delbert McClinton, she has numerous individual and ensemble jazz fest awards. Sadie is also a compassionate leader with a heart for children and music therapy, serving as a representative for Blue Star Connection, an organization that provides instruments to children with cancer and other illnesses. Grace is from the Congo. Her passion is Gospel music, of which she says, "If music heals the soul, Gospel music heals the spirit, the heart, the thoughts, and the soul." She plays and writes on the keyboard. THE TRIO consists of three Grammy Award-Winning songwriters from Nashville. CARL JACKSON was born in the small town of Louisville, Mississippi. By the time he was eight years old, thanks to his father's influence and a burning desire inside, he was already well on his way to being an accomplished musician. Glen Campbell, with whom he played 12 years, called him "The greatest banjo player in the world." As a vocalist, he has recorded with EmmyLou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Garth Brooks, Janie Fricke, Dolly Parton, and other top names. His songs have been recorded by Vince Gill, Glen Campbell, Trisha Yearwood, and many, many others. LARRY CORDLE, a native of eastern Kentucky, was a childhood friend and neighbor of fellow musical prodigy, Ricky Skaggs. Upon hearing Cordle's new song, "Highway 40 Blues," Ricky promised that he would one day record it. In the summer of 1983, it was the number one song in the nation, helping to launch Larry's songwriting career and skyrocketing Skaggs' already solid country music career. At last count, Larry's songs had appeared on projects that have sold a combined total of more than 55 million records, by artists such Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and many others. JERRY SALLEY has been referred to by Billboard Magazine as "One of Music Row's greatest veteran tunesmiths." The 2003 SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year, Jerry has had over 450 songs recorded in his multi-award winning career. Jerry's songs have sold in excess of 15.5 million records worldwide. His songs have been recorded by some of today's biggest country stars, including Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire and Brad Paisley. As an artist himself, Jerry has performed many times on the Grand Ole Opry, Late Night with David Letterman, and NBC'S Today Show. ERIC GNEZDA, creator and host of Songs at the Center, is also an award-winning songwriter. Eric and his work have been featured on media around the world. He is a recipient of the Ohioana Citation for Music Composition, joining Michael Feinstein (American Songbook), Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane), and Chip Davis (Mannheim Steamroller). Eric is a regular performer at Nashville's iconic songwriting venue, The Bluebird Cafe. He is also an Emmy-nominated television journalist.
  • Friday, June 7
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, June 14
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, June 21
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, June 28
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, July 5
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, July 12
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, July 19
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, July 26
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, August 2
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, August 9
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, August 16
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, August 23
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.
  • Friday, August 30
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    No description available.

 

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  • Friday, May 24
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artists: NBC's The Voice Semi-Finalist Emily Keener, Thor Platter, Laurie Caner (with Eddie Caner) of Hey Mavis, and hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. EMILY KEENER is a young woman with an old soul. Since her exciting journey into the Top 12 on NBC's The Voice, Emily has been writing and recording diligently in an effort to capture the energy of this most transformative year. Emily started playing the guitar when she was 11 years old and began writing songs almost immediately. She writes and performs music that springs from a place of beauty and pure emotion. Based in Wakeman, Ohio, she plays the six-string acoustic guitar with a folksy, nostalgic groove, and collaborates frequently with the Womack Family Band. THOR PLATTER, originally from Buffalo, NY, writes and performs music that Scene Magazine hails as "Americana roots rock and soulful good vibes." Now based in Cleveland, Thor sports gentle, affecting vocals - which have earned him numerous comparisons to Willie Nelson - carried along freely by the accompaniment of rollicking banjo and harmonica. "The tradition and history of American music have influenced me my entire life; it encompasses many sounds and styles from many different eras," he explains. "Above all, it is just good music to your ears." Thor approaches song craft without specific genre boundaries, choosing instead to allow his music to evolve instinctually. LAURIE MICHELLE CANER is "a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and Garrison Keillor with a killer voice, a killer banjo, and a killer band," according to one articulate fan. She's also a homeschooling mom, a songwriter, and Ms. May in the 2015 Banjo Babes Calendar. She has been hailed as a role model for mothers who strive to honor their own artistic vision while continuing to raise a healthy family. Her banjo playing is of curious origin, but beautifully serves as a foundation for her lyrics. Laurie's songwriting tells the story of life-with all of its beauty, heartache, disappointment and joy-weaving a musical tapestry that speaks the truth of love, life and the human condition. As the lead singer in the band, Hey Mavis, she has worked extensively with Don Dixon, who has produced the last few recording projects for the band. She is joined by her husband, Edward Caner.
  • Friday, May 17
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Master Serieswith Multiple Grammy winners Peter Asher & Albert Lee, hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. PETER ASHER first became known to the world through ten Top 40 hits with Peter & Gordon, whose debut, "A World without Love," topped the charts in the US, UK and 30 other countries. His days as A&R Director for the Beatles' Apple Records made history, and he became a legend as producer and manager of James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and many others. He remains the only Artist Manager to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, and his studio work has led to two Grammy Awards as "Producer of the Year." ALBERT LEE, a two-time Grammy Award winner, catapulted onto the world stage with Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and Emmylou Harris. A 25-year run as Music Director of his beloved Everly Brothers coincided with studio and stage work with Vince Gill, Roseanne Cash, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. As the two legends have been touring together, they visited our show to sing and tell the stories of their travels that brought them through so many intersections of music history.
  • Friday, May 10
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artists: Cheley Tackett, Micah Kesselring, Mandy Cook, and hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. CHELEY TACKETT grew up in Ohio. Her blend of lyrical intensity and melodic craftsmanship has earned her recognition and respect in Nashville, a town where being a stand-out is a rare achievement. American Country Magazine suggests Cheley's song "Play the One I Like" "...might be the best song that I've heard this year so far." Acclaimed as much for her songwriting as for her artistry, Cheley won the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk competition, among others. Also a much sought-after demo singer on Music Row, Cheley's sultry voice and velvety moments are uniquely her own. MICAH KESSELRING was raised in the Appalachia foothills of southeastern Ohio. Cutting his teeth on the Columbus blues scene, he soon made his way to Memphis, TN, for the International Blues Challenge, representing the Columbus Blues Alliance in the Youth Showcase category. Following a performance at the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street, he was awarded the inaugural Generation Blues scholarship at the age of 15. Micah later went on to perform as a special guest with the Otis Taylor Band at the Blues Music Awards in May of 2009 and was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge in 2016. MANDY COOK forged her musical niche by pulling classical vocal training, and the influential Jazz and R&B of her childhood together. She was raised listening to greats like Sade, Nat King Cole, and Peggy Lee. On her own, she discovered Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, and Ani DiFranco. Discovering her own style on guitar produced a nuanced, bass-driven playing style that now ranges from beautifully minimalist, to swampy, to jazzy and complex. She can create a whole atmosphere to live and listen within, with simply her gut string guitar and her voice.
  • Friday, May 3
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artists: RCA Recording Artist Christon Gray, Whetherman, Danika Holmes (with Jeb Hart), and hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. CHRISTON GRAY, an RCA recording artist, has composed music for ESPN, HBO, and Fox. Creating a wide range of music, from hip hop to inspirational, Christon rises above the attempts to "label" his songs, preferring to categorize them as "human songs." Also a visual artist, Christon is an insightful songwriter and captivating performer. WHETHERMAN, the moniker of independent singer-songwriter Nicholas Williams, artfully bridges American-made folk, blues, country, soul, and bluegrass with a timeless tinge. He has produced eight full-length albums, including the highly anticipated, This Land, released in June, 2017. His music aims at the heart center, with earnest and poetic lyrics. DANIKA HOLMES, an Iowa native now based in Nashville, has opened for Dierks Bentley, Phil Vassar, and, at last count, her songs have spun on more than 150 radio stations. Believing that music has the power to heal, Danika chooses to focus her music on overcoming challenges and emerging better for it. In 2010, Danika joined forces with guitarist Jeb Hart, whose sophisticated playing complements Danika's smooth, soulful vocals, creating their unique blend of acoustic pop.
  • Friday, April 26
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artists: Multiple Grammy Award winner Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, and hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. CARL JACKSON was born in the small town of Louisville, Mississippi. By the time he was eight years old, thanks to his father's influence and a burning desire inside, he was already well on his way to being an accomplished musician. Glen Campbell, with whom he played 12 years, called him "The greatest banjo player in the world." As a vocalist, he has recorded with EmmyLou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Garth Brooks, Janie Fricke, Dolly Parton, and other top names. His songs have been recorded by Vince Gill, Glen Campbell, Trisha Yearwood, and many, many others. LARRY CORDLE, a native of eastern Kentucky, was a childhood friend and neighbor of fellow musical prodigy, Ricky Skaggs. Upon hearing Cordle's new song, "Highway 40 Blues," Ricky promised that he would one day record it. In the summer of 1983, it was the number one song in the nation, helping to launch Larry's songwriting career and skyrocketing Skaggs' already solid country music career. At last count, Larry's songs had appeared on projects that have sold a combined total of more than 55 million records, by artists such Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and many others. JERRY SALLEY has been referred to by Billboard Magazine as "One of Music Row's greatest veteran tunesmiths." The 2003 SESAC Country Music Songwriter of the Year, Jerry has had over 450 songs recorded in his multi-award winning career. Jerry's songs have sold in excess of 15.5 million records worldwide. His songs have been recorded by some of today's biggest country stars, including Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire and Brad Paisley. As an artist himself, Jerry has performed many times on the Grand Ole Opry, Late Night with David Letterman, and NBC'S Today Show.
  • Friday, April 19
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Student episode, featuring great emerging singer-songwriters, aged 16-20, "discovered" through regional Songs at the Centerworkshops. Artists: Sienna Stocky, Olivia Martinez, Hunter Rich, Sadie Johnson, Grace Matombe, and by songwriter Eric Gnezda. SIENNA STOCKY, 18, writes and performs songs with hints of Celtic influences while sporting a youthful American edge. She first sang on stage at a music festival in the hills of southeast Ohio when she was just four years old. Ever since, she has made a deliberate effort not to emulate other artists and has developed a sound and style which is compelling, recognizable, and all her own. OLIVIA MARTINEZ, 16, is a sophomore at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland. She has been writing songs for two years and enjoys performing at local venues. When Olivia is not playing her guitar, she can usually be found ballet dancing at The Beck Center for the Arts. She attended Interlochen Center for the Arts on a partial scholarship. HUNTER RICH, 18, cut his songwriting teeth in his native Columbus, Ohio, and will be attending American University in the fall. He plans to travel the world raising awareness of various humanitarian issues prevalent in today's society, and harnessing music as a universal language to promote peace, prosperity, and well-being for all cultures. SADIE JOHNSON, a student at Marietta College, first picked up the guitar at the age of six and has since developed into an inspiring blues guitarist, composer and performer. Recently opening for Delbert McClinton, she has numerous individual and ensemble jazz fest awards. Sadie is also a compassionate leader with a heart for children and music therapy, serving as a representative for Blue Star Connection, an organization that provides instruments to children with cancer and other illnesses. GRACE MATOMBE, of the Congo, is a student at Marietta College. Her passion is Gospel music, of which she says, "If music heals the soul, Gospel music heals the spirit, the heart, the thoughts, and the soul. " She plays and writes on the keyboard.
  • Friday, April 12
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artists: NBC's The Voice Semi-Finalist Emily Keener, Thor Platter, Laurie Caner (with Eddie Caner) of Hey Mavis, and hosted by songwriter Eric Gnezda. EMILY KEENER is a young woman with an old soul. Since her exciting journey into the Top 12 on NBC's The Voice, Emily has been writing and recording diligently in an effort to capture the energy of this most transformative year. Emily started playing the guitar when she was 11 years old and began writing songs almost immediately. She writes and performs music that springs from a place of beauty and pure emotion. Based in Wakeman, Ohio, she plays the six-string acoustic guitar with a folksy, nostalgic groove, and collaborates frequently with the Womack Family Band. THOR PLATTER, originally from Buffalo, NY, writes and performs music that Scene Magazine hails as "Americana roots rock and soulful good vibes." Now based in Cleveland, Thor sports gentle, affecting vocals - which have earned him numerous comparisons to Willie Nelson - carried along freely by the accompaniment of rollicking banjo and harmonica. "The tradition and history of American music have influenced me my entire life; it encompasses many sounds and styles from many different eras," he explains. "Above all, it is just good music to your ears." Thor approaches song craft without specific genre boundaries, choosing instead to allow his music to evolve instinctually. LAURIE MICHELLE CANER is "a cross between Edgar Allan Poe and Garrison Keillor with a killer voice, a killer banjo, and a killer band," according to one articulate fan. She's also a homeschooling mom, a songwriter, and Ms. May in the 2015 Banjo Babes Calendar. She has been hailed as a role model for mothers who strive to honor their own artistic vision while continuing to raise a healthy family. Her banjo playing is of curious origin, but beautifully serves as a foundation for her lyrics. Laurie's songwriting tells the story of life-with all of its beauty, heartache, disappointment and joy-weaving a musical tapestry that speaks the truth of love, life and the human condition. As the lead singer in the band, Hey Mavis, she has worked extensively with Don Dixon, who has produced the last few recording projects for the band. She is joined by her husband, Edward Caner.
  • Friday, April 5
    12:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Artist: Master Series with Grammy winner Marc Cohn. MARC COHN shares fascinating stories about his creative process. After winning a Grammy Award for his soulful, iconic ballad, "Walking in Memphis," Marc has solidified his place as one of this generation's most compelling singer/songwriters, combining the precision of a brilliant tune smith with the passion of a great soul man. He's a natural storyteller, balancing the exuberant with the poignant, and able to distill universal truth out of his often romantic, drawn-from-life tales. TIME magazine calls Marc "one of the honest, emotional voices we need in this decade" and Bonnie Raitt declared, "Marc is one of the most soulful, talented artists I know. I love his songs, he's an incredible singer, and I marvel at his ability to mesmerize every audience he plays for." She, along with James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin all made guest appearances on Cohn's records for Atlantic. In 2016, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album, Marc proudly released Careful What you Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities and the bonus album, Evolution of a Record, featuring never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his debut and the Grammy that followed.