Being from a small town may not feel so small for those who were born and raised in the “hit recording capital of the world.” Now, roughly a 10-minute drive from campus is the new Muscle Shoals Song Rooms created by UNA junior Lillian Glanton.
If that name sounds familiar to you, you may know her from American Idol several years back when she was only 15 years old. You might also remember her as the creator of the successful 2019 Muscle Shoals Songwriters Festival that took place on Oct. 25 and 26. The festival presented more than 80 acts including aspiring songwriters and hit songwriters.
Glanton started the Muscle Shoals Song Rooms as a part of her growing vision for the music scene in the Shoals area. With the Shoals already being known for its FAME Recording Studios, annual W.C. Handy Festival, and other musical feats, Glanton wanted songwriters of the Shoals to have a workspace specifically for them to write and be comfortable in a supportive environment.
“Mainly we’re just here to create a songwriting community and to make music come out of the shoals,” Glanton said. She refers to the Song Rooms as “a creative and professional space for songwriters to write and co-write.” She wanted the concept of the Muscle Shoals Song Rooms to be similar to “The Workshop,” a songwriting space in Nashville.
The Muscle Shoals Song Rooms will operate on a membership-based service. “It’s like a gym membership,” Glanton said. “There’s hundreds of thousands of people with a gym membership, and they don’t go to the gym, you know? It’s like how are you gonna use it to its full potential?”
There are currently two main payment plans for membership. One option is the monthly plan for $30 per month; however, for UNA students and younger members in high school and middle school, the cost is $20 per month. There is also a yearly plan for the one-time annual payment of $350.
Membership not only guarantees the use of any selected songwriting room, but there are many perks such as discounted rates on upcoming events and provided snacks and beverages during writing sessions.
The Song Rooms building consists of many spaces which members and staff have access to. Upon entering the building, visitors will first see the Performance Hall lined with pews facing the stage which sits front and center, ready to be graced by future performers. Three creatively themed rooms await songwriters hoping to strike inspiration, each room unique from the other. The names they have respectively earned are the “Modern” room, the “Classic” room and Glanton’s personal favorite, the “Vintage” room. Finally, a conference room with walls adorned with encouraging quotes and music paraphernalia completes the space.
Each of the writing rooms has been uniquely designed to give off a certain vibe relating to its name. For instance, the “Modern” room features decor such as electric guitars, bright red walls and illuminating light, while the “Vintage” room houses acoustic guitars and more mellow lighting to provide more of an old-school feel.
Song Rooms members may book a writing room for up to three hours at a time. For members who want to work with co-writers, the first session for the co-writer is free; however, the co-writer will need to register as a member for any sessions following the first one.
Members aged 15 and younger will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. More information on the registration process, along with general information regarding the Muscle Shoals Song Rooms can be found on the website www.muscleshoalssongrooms.com.
Glanton has her work cut out for her as the owner of a business, a UNA Entertainment Industry major, as well as the creator of the Muscle Shoals Songwriters Festival, which will be returning Nov. 5–7. She heavily encourages young people to surround themselves with hardworking, successful people in order to emulate that success.
“You are who you surround yourself with,” said Glanton. “If you surround yourself with people who don’t have a positive attitude, who have a negative look on life, you will eventually start picking up some of those characteristics. But success leaves clues. If you hang out with people who are successful and who take their songwriting career seriously, then you will also take your career seriously.”
Glanton has been nothing short of extremely humble and grateful when asked about her personal experience so far with starting a business and putting on a major festival that has gathered much attention.
“As I was looking out in the crowd, and I saw real live people who had spent their hard-earned money on a ticket to come to the festival, that was an amazing feeling,” said Glanton. “And I really thought to myself, I think this is what God put me on Earth here to do...to bring people together and make it about songwriters and make it about the song, especially here in Muscle Shoals. I tell people those are my two biggest passions: songwriters and Muscle Shoals. So bringing those two together, whether it be with the Song Rooms or with the festival, that gives me just pure joy.”
Glanton also attributed much of her support to her mom, who she said gave her the faith, courage and belief to start in general, and encouraged her to see the vision of the current Song Rooms building, which was originally only a storage building with no rooms or paint. Glanton said, “I think that’s one thing people my age need to hear. It’s not how they need to do something, but give them the courage that they actually can make it happen.” She puts her heart into her work, making hers and others’ dreams become a reality.
As the Songwriters Festival approaches, applications will open back up on Jan. 31. Songwriters who are interested in showcasing their work in this year’s festival will need to visit mssongfest.com to fill out the application and submit an audition video. For further questions and information on how to get involved with the Muscle Shoals Songwriters Festival or becoming a Muscle Shoals Song Rooms member, inquirers may contact Ms. Glanton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @muscleshoalssf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.