The Poet is a ongoing feature in CCRB, profiling the songwriters of
this genre of music.
CCRB: Tell us about your background.
Dana: I was always into music, Les. I started out playing
drums when I was 11, and playing them professionally when I was 13. Everybody
else in the band was college age. We played in nightclubs and things. Id been saved when I was 7, but Id
fallen away from the Lord a little bit. I spent two years playing drum
professionally all over the country. I did a lot of work in Miami. Thank God I
finally got burned out on that.
I sold my drums, bought a guitar, and
moved to Nashville. I had already started writing some songs. I got here and I
had no idea what country music was. I was a rock n roller. I thought
Ernest Tubb was a sincere bucket.
My little Baptist mama had just about worn
her knees out praying for me. When she found out that Id moved to
Nashville, she said Okay, hes yours, Lord. I give up. Its
good to pray for your kids, but she would pray and worry.
I was pitching my songs one day, after
going to all the large record companies, at a little company called Cherish
Records. I was pitching my stuff to Don Smith and he invited me to a Bible
study. I didnt have much interest in a Bible study, but he mentioned that
a lot of writers, session players and producers attended this study. So I went,
for all the wrong reasons.
When the study ended that night, Don and I
wound up sitting on the couch together and he asked, Hey Dana, you goin
to Heaven when you die? I said, Well, uh, yeah. He asked How
do you know? I said, Well, you know, uh, Im American. I
believe in God. Its a Christian country, so you know... He said, Thats
great. Have you ever been to McDonalds? Are you a Big Mac?
I started getting defensive. I told him
since Id come to Nashville, Id been trying to straighten myself up,
get myself cleaned up. Id cut back on the drugs and was not doing nearly
as much blankety blank cussin. Here I was cussin about how I wasnt
cussin so much!
He said, Thats wonderful! Once
you have yourself all cleaned up, and youre perfect and you have no faults
left whatsoever, youll die and go to Hell and burn forever.
He had my attention. The next thing I knew
he just laid John 3:16 on me. It was like hearing the words of a song youve
heard a million times. You know, Id been saved since I was seven. Each
time Id come close to being busted or getting into trouble, Id
always call on the Lord and Hed always help me. Id never renounced
the Lord, but I wasnt living for Him. But then, in Nashville, the Lord
became real to me.
The next thing I knew, I met Glenn
Ashworth and turned him onto the Lord. And I started collaborating with Glenn.
He had country roots and I had rock n roll roots and we started
writing songs together. We signed a deal with Acuff-Rose in 1977, the third
largest publisher in the world at that time. Glenn and I were freshly saved. Wed
come back to the Lord, gotten Spirit-filled and really turned on.
Today Acuff-Rose is Opryland Music. We
started writing for them as a team. They nicknamed us the Songwriters, Glenn,
myself, and a guy named Jacky Watts who wed also got turned onto the Lord.
We had a little band, and wed sing here and there. The more turned on we
got for the Lord, the more Bible studies we went to, and the more we listened to
Christian tapes we started filling our hearts with the Word and the Word started
coming out in our songs. Pretty soon we were invited to sing in church. We did a
concert with Amy Grant before she had a record deal.
He couldnt believe his ears...
could what theyve been sayin be true?
Were they just lyin, could they be playin,
children can be so cruel.
So he held all his tears inside...
ran home as fast as he could...
Cornered his mamma, said Am I adopted?
You gotta tell me the truth
And she said, I chose you, you were my one in a million
I chose you. I guess its high time you knew,
you didnt just happen along,
you didnt come out of the blue...
No, I... I chose you
After his teenage years, the girl of his dreams came along
But she was dating another and that made him wonder...
could he have
been dreamin all wrong?
But he couldnt leave it alone...
he had to try and make her his own..
When he finally did, she smiled at him and said
Theres something you ought to know...
One night he was counting his blessings,
and he asked the good Lord
when deep in his slumber, these words came like thunder,
across the sky...
And God said; I chose you, youre one of my one in a
I chose you. I guess its high time you knew
they didnt just happen along,
those blessings came out of the blue
I... I chose you. Yeah I... I chose you.
© © Copyright 1993 Star North Music (ASCAP) /
Star South Music (BMI). Reproduced with permission. Dana Sigmon, Glenn Ashworth,
We had trouble getting airplay in the
early days because a lot of Christian radio stations didnt want to play
stuff that was too scriptural. We were Christian Country before there was
Christian Country. You had Amy Grant on one end of the spectrum and the Florida
Boys on the other end. We had number one songs in Houston and Dallas and Phoenix
and different places. But it was never the same record. We just sent out albums
and stations would play whatever they wanted to play.
We traveled all over the country. Little
by little one band member would leave and then another. And after a while it
ended up to be just me. Me and my wife and two kids would be traveling around. I
had a 5-year deal with Acuff-Rose, but they kind of let go of me after the first
couple of years. When you start bringing songs to your secular country music
publisher entitled Turn On To Jesus And Youll Never Come Down
and Jesus Junkie and Jesus In The Backfield and all this
kind of stuff they didnt have a whole lot of use for those kinds of
songs they let us out of our contracts and we found ourselves on the road
CCRB: Lets talk about one of your recent songs, I Chose You.
Dana: Our record producer started a publishing company
here in town and he hired Glenn and I to create a catalogue. So Glenn Ashworth
and I started writing for Five Star Music six years ago. After about a year we
opened offices down on Music Row and got a guy to run the company locally. Wed
write during two sessions everyday. We met a guy named T J Klay who plays with
Western Flyer, a country band (made up of Christians) on a secular label. Well T
J was so excited one day, and running around the office. He said, I just
found my birth mom. He told us hed been adopted by these great
people, but hed always wanted to meet his real mom. We started talking
about how special it is when someones adopted. Sometimes people like that
feel like second class citizens, when in actuality, they were chosen.
And we talked about how many times a guy
would chase a girl and they wind up getting married and yet actually she had
done the choosing. And then we talked about how God said, You havent
chosen me. I have chosen you. So we put those three elements together in a
song, I Chose You.
CCRB: How have things changed from your early Christian
Dana: We dont only write Christian music. We write
Christian Country and we write good clean country music and pop music, and love
songs. I dont have a problem with that. God created a family before He
created a church. God created love between a man and a woman. If you keep it
clean its a very godly thing. Its at the heart of God. One man, one
woman for one lifetime. In the meantime, Glenn and I go out on weekends to
minister. We also go out on our own.
CCRB: Whats your assessment of Christian Country?
Dana: I believe Christian Country music has the potential
of really taking off. I believe that if some people will get involved, it can
have no limits. Christian Country is what people want because country music is
about real life. With Christian Country you put in Gods slant on life.
Les is publisher and editor of CCRB.
© Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Joyful Sounds, Inc.