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THE POET

Dana Sigmon

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.

I’d been saved when I was 7, but I’d 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 I’d moved to Nashville, she said “Okay, he’s yours, Lord. I give up”. It’s 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 didn’t 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, I’m American. I believe in God. It’s a Christian country, so you know...” He said, “That’s great. Have you ever been to McDonalds? Are you a Big Mac?”
I started getting defensive. I told him since I’d come to Nashville, I’d been trying to straighten myself up, get myself cleaned up. I’d cut back on the drugs and was not doing nearly as much blankety blank cussin’. Here I was cussin’ about how I wasn’t cussin’ so much!
He said, “That’s wonderful! Once you have yourself all cleaned up, and you’re perfect and you have no faults left whatsoever, you’ll 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 you’ve heard a million times. You know, I’d been saved since I was seven. Each time I’d come close to being busted or getting into trouble, I’d always call on the Lord and He’d always help me. I’d never renounced the Lord, but I wasn’t 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. We’d 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 we’d also got turned onto the Lord. We had a little band, and we’d 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.

I CHOSE YOU

He couldn’t believe his ears...
could what they’ve 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 it’s high time you knew,
you didn’t just happen along,
you didn’t 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 couldn’t leave it alone...
he had to try and make her his own..
When he finally did, she smiled at him and said
“There’s something you ought to know...”
Chorus
One night he was counting his blessings,
and he asked the good Lord why...
when deep in his slumber, these words came like thunder,
rolling across the sky...
And God said; “I chose you, you’re one of my one in a million.
I chose you. I guess its high time you knew
they didn’t 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, T.J. Klay


We had trouble getting airplay in the early days because a lot of Christian radio stations didn’t 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 You’ll Never Come Down and Jesus Junkie and Jesus In The Backfield and all this kind of stuff — they didn’t 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 ministering.

CCRB: Let’s 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. We’d 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 he’d been adopted by these great people, but he’d always wanted to meet his real mom. We started talking about how special it is when someone’s 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 haven’t 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 songwriting days?

Dana: We don’t only write Christian music. We write Christian Country and we write good clean country music and pop music, and love songs. I don’t 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 it’s a very godly thing. It’s 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: What’s 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 God’s slant on life. -Les Roberts Les is publisher and editor of CCRB.

© Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Joyful Sounds, Inc.