International Songwriters Association (ISA) Songs And Songwriting Patricia Knapton
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ISA Patricia Knapton Interview

Patricia Knapton


Regular readers of Songwriter Magazine will be familiar with the excellent interviews carried out for us over the years, by the UK writer, Patricia Knapton.

Unfortunately, Patricia is not one to blow her own trumpet, and consequently, most of our interviewees were probably never aware that they were being interviewed by a superb songwriter in her own right.

Some time back, we found out that Patricia herself had released a new CD and of course, we wanted the story. But instead of sending somebody else to interview her, we thought - why not ask her to do it herself?

It took some persuasion, (but then we can be very persuasive!) and so at long last, in her own words, is Patricia's account of  the creation of "Moments" - now available as they say, in all good record shops nationwide!

Patricia Knapton

I've always been a great believer in the power of positive thinking - which perhaps is just as well, because when I decided I wanted to write songs, I couldn't play an instrument, I couldn't read or write music, and I wasn't a singer either. At least I knew it was going to be difficult!

However, what I did have were lots of lyrics which I had written down over the years and stored in what I called my "maybe one day" folder.

I  had always loved music and songs as I was growing up, and there was always music around the house.  My brother was a singer, and played drums on the QE2 liner.

My younger sister was lead singer with a country & western band which played the pubs and clubs circuit in the West Country.

As for me, I fell in love, got married, and had two children!

Once I had some spare time, I began to think more about songwriting but soon began to wonder if it was all just a "pipe dream".

Undaunted, I went back to my "maybe one day" folder and decided that if I wanted to write songs, I would need to have a plan. So I became a member of The International Songwriters Association.

Next, I decided I would place an advertisement in the local evening newspaper for a melody writer.

Two weeks later I was co-writing with a singer/songwriter,who was also a talented keyboard player, and soon we were having weekly songwriting nights at my house.

Patricia Knapton
Courtesy of Images & Editions Greetings Cards

Now my lyrics are mainly inspired by life, and by the many shades of the human heart.  I've always enjoyed writing lyrics with a story but now, the time restriction of three or four minutes meant I had to condense the story-line.

But it was great hearing my words put to music, and as soon as we had a dozen or so songs completed, we took six of the best into studio to demo. 

It was my first time in a recording studio and I loved it. I loved the whole process of the recording of songs, and of course, hearing them as completed demos, was very rewarding.

Believe me, I know how other songwriters feel when they say they could paper their walls with rejection slips. I too have had my share of these!

However, thanks to a tip in the ISA SongSeller, we soon had a publishing deal for all six songs! It was exciting signing my first ever contract. 

Some time later I received a phone call out of the blue from a  local musical director who was looking for a lyricist for his forthcoming Christmas musical production of "The Pied Piper" which was to be staged at the town's Music Hall. 

Having heard that I wrote lyrics, he asked me if I would consider writing the lyrics for the show.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and now found I was able to write lyrics to music too. In the end, we wrote a dozen or so new songs.

Writing lyrics for a stage production was a new dimension for me, and I must say, I enjoyed it immensely. I have always loved musicals, especially Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Anyway, "Pied Piper was a success, and it was really great to see the children and cast singing the songs we had written especially  for the show.

Once again, thanks to another ISA songwriter contact, I found myself  co-writing by post with a gospel songwriter, and we created some good songs. I was always drawn to the inspirational style of lyric writing  - many of my earlier lyrics seemed to have uplifting messages. 

While I continued co-writing songs, I happened to read in a national Sunday newspaper a story about a famous guide dog called Bella. The write-up told how Bella had gone missing after being frightened by fireworks, and despite an extensive search by hundreds of people, she was never found. It said her owner faced a heartbreaking Christmas without his beloved Bella.

Patricia Knapton
Patricia at a book-signing in Ludlow

This sad story was to inspire me to write the book and lyrics for a new family musical which I called simply "Bella".

I contacted Bella's owner, via the newspaper, and he was delighted at the prospect. I had no real knowledge of stage craft, or of scriptwriting, but I wrote the script (or "book" as it's called), and the lyrics, but of course, I then had  to find a composer who could write the score.

I was fortunate enough to find someone who wrote good melodic music, but I wasn't finished yet by a long shot.

Bella - Patricia Knapton

I now had to find a production company,  and some children who were to play an important part in the story-line,  along with a producer and a director - and of course, a dog!

I also found myself taking on the role of executive producer - an area where positive thinking is certainly needed!

Rehearsals were fun, and to my amazement, "Bella" ended up being staged more or less as I had written it, with just a little adjustment here and there.
When writing songs for a musical play, it is important for the songs to move the story-line along smoothly, from the dialogue to the song. With a time frame of approximately two hours for the  complete performance, we had to stay focused on timings. 

We had a good relationship with the  local press and radio, so as opening day loomed, we got some excellent publicity.

The show was booked at The Music Hall, the town's main theatre, and I put fliers in every possible shop window in the run up to the opening night. 

I remember my sister asking me " what if if fails? "  I took a deep breath and said  "It can't!" 

I had invited  some of the top people from the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association in London for the final night along with the real Bella's owner - plus the Mayor and Mayoress of the town, so I couldn't allow myself to think of the show failing!

I needn't have worried, "Bella" was a great success, and we were able to donate a sizeable amount of money to the Guide Dog charity.

For me, it was a particular joy to see 'Bella'  lifted from 'the page to the stage', and I loved working with the children.

The party on the final night was a really happy occasion, and the children sang the show songs on their way home.

The following morning, I woke up to what seemed like a house full of bouquets - bunches of beautiful flowers that had been presented to me the night before. It was really heart-warming. 

"Bella" was staged later that year by a theatre company in the north of the country, with a champagne opening, and Eddie Shah and his wife as special guests. That production too was a sell -out.

The following year I wrote the book "Bella".  In an inspired moment, I had noted the name and address of a guest publisher on a local radio programme, and wrote to her via the radio station. Soon after, "Bella" was published and proved to be a very popular book.  I also managed to get it recorded by Talking Books For The Blind, read by a member of The Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Later that year, due to my involvement with the Guide Dogs For The Blind, I became  press & publicity officer for the Shrewsbury & District Guide Dogs For The Blind Association!

Unfortunately, after two years, I had to give it up due to my being dogged by an old back injury which meant I had to spend many weeks in bed.  However, in between bed rests, I still managed to write songs and a number of musical plays, one of them being  "Heaven Sent",  a musical play I have set in downtown New York, which I hope to have staged sometime in the near future.

But it was a particularly vivid dream that was to set me on yet another road.

I dreamt that my name was "Patricia Rose", and when I woke the following morning, the dream stayed with me. It was such a vivid dream that it inspired me so much that I started writing inspirational poems and verses, which as usual, I put away in my "maybe one day" folder under the name Patricia Rose.

Over the months I had written quite a few, so I sent them off to my book publisher, without knowing if  they even considered poems. The result was three books of inspiring poems & verses, published under the name "Patricia Rose" ! 

Patricia Knapton
Patricia, with her publisher Dorothy McNiel

With the coming of the new millennium, my publisher suggested that I write a new hardback book to celebrate the event. This was later published under the title "Grains Of Truth - Thoughts For The Twenty First Century" and was very well received, I'm pleased to say.

With time to think, I realised that whenever I wrote lyrics, I nearly always had a rhythm and a melody line running through my head, and that I knew exactly how I wanted the song to come across. I could whistle, and I could sing (a bit!), and I had a tape recorder, so I decided to write down my own songs - making sure to 'marry-up' the stress notes with the stress syllables.  The demo people soon got used to my whistling, and my voice! 

I still smile at the memory of the  joy I felt on hearing my first complete song when it arrived in the post. It was the first of  many.

Anyway, thanks to another  tip in the ISA SongSeller, a UK publisher signed fourteen of my own, and co-written songs. I couldn't believe it !

However,two years later, there were still no major covers - although the songs did get a lot of airplay on independent radio stations in Europe and the USA -  and most important of all, it also led to me winning  an "International Songwriter Of The Year Award" at the Las Vegas American Eagle Awards For Country Music - two years running with a co-writer, and a third year with my own song "Somewhere Between Heaven And Help Me".
It was a wonderful moment. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the Awards, so my music publisher, who was going anyway, collected the awards on my behalf .

The plaques now have pride of place on my office wall!

Patricia Knapton

Once the songs were out of copyright, I decided I would approach artistes, which is basically what a publisher would do anyway, and try and obtain covers myself. 

I managed to get a number of my own and co-written songs covered by three top UK line dance artists, which was very rewarding.

However, while still struggling with back pain, I developed a heart problem. Although not life threatening, it resulted in me being rushed to hospital on several occasions.

While recuperating, I sent some verses to a UK greetings card company. They wanted more! Nowadays, cards with my verses are selling in the UK and the US. You will see the credits on each card, "Words by Patricia Rose".

My latest project is a new CD titled "Moments".

About a year or so ago, I was asked if I would like to write and record an album of uplifting verses and poems. I was fortunate enough to know a  well  established and respected record producer, who had previously signed a couple of my songs, and  who had purchased my book "Grains Of Truth".

I was delighted to be asked, and the result is "Moments" - an album that has been written from the heart to inspire and to help anyone going through a difficult time, perhaps  through illness. Hopefully it may also help those who need to hear some positive and uplifting words of hope.

Moments - Patricia Knapton
"Moments" by Patricia Knapton

There are four segments on the CD, each containing eight separate verses, which are headed "Moments To Inspire Positive Thinking & Confidence", "Healing & Peace", "Comfort & Caring", and "Harmony & Peace", with music weaving in and out the verses. 

My personal satisfaction comes very much from the fact that if I can help just one person, with any of the words of my songs, my books or my CD, and make them feel uplifted and better about themselves, and their situation, I will be more than happy. 

Members who have read my interviews in the ISA's  Songwriter Magazine will know I always ask my interviewee  "Finally, do you have any advice for fellow songwriters?"

Well, if asked, my own advice would be simply this.

Try to cultivate a positive attitude and apply it to everything you do. If you believe in yourself and your songs, others will believe in you. And do remember, when opportunity knocks at your door, be sure to answer -  you never know where it might  lead you.  Dreams do come true - I know!

Heaven Sent - Patricia Knapton
Souvenir Programme from the World Premiere of
"Heaven Sent" by Patricia Knapton & Stephen Hearson

Postscript

Since I wrote the above, quite a few interesting things have happened!

Firstly, the musical "Heaven Sent" was finally performed at the Rep Theatre, Stoke-On-Trent and was very well received by the audience.

Stephen Hearson, who wrote all the music for the show (with the book & lyrics by myself), was in a position to stage the musical because he and his wife Judith own their own Theatre Company, S&J Productions, and for Stephen - having overcome serious health problems, it was something of a dream come true to see "Heaven Sent" finally staged.

The musical proved to be very successful with a full house and standing ovation on the final night, and for me personally, although I couldn't be involved in the same way that I was for the musical "Bella", it was wonderful to see "Heaven Sent" emerge from the "page to the stage" with some very talented people performing in it.

A few months later I was lucky enough to get three country/gospel songs signed to the American Gospel Publisher & Record Company, Claude E Reed. Two were co-written songs, and one was my own song entitled "A Mother's Love" which was later recorded by Claude E Reed himself on his latest gospel album.

Soon afterwards, the recession hit, and the greetings card company I used to write for lost their American contract and unfortunately went into receivership.

Some time later I decided to write and produce a couple of my own little books of inspirational poems and verses as it seemed publishers were reluctant to take on new books due to the decline in the economy.

I was aware that it was not a good time to be bringing out new books when money was scarce, and many people were going through a difficult time. However, I eventually wrote and published four little books - "Every One A Hero", "Words Of Comfort", "Hold Onto Hope", and "Healing Words".

Patricia Knapton
Patricia with one of her books "Hold Onto Hope"

"Every One A Hero" and "Words Of Comfort" have sold well at The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire, and all four books have sold well on the Help for Heroes website and are still available on www.helpforheroes.org.uk

I would like to think these little books have inspired some of the people who have read them, and perhaps given them a few words of comfort and hope to help them through a difficult time.

More recently, I have been writing greetings card verses for Cherry Orchard, a National Greetings Card Company, who seem to like my style of writing and have produced an Inspirational/Sentiment range of greetings cards, which I am really pleased about, and have named it "Serenity Rose".

Copyright Patricia Knapton & Songwriter Magazine: All Rights Reserved

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