Kip Moore, Ross Copperman and Jon Nite have penned countless hit songs for country radio and on Thursday (June 14), they lent their songwriting talents to the 9th Annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp. The three songwriters took part in the camp’s Songwriting Workshop where they helped craft a song called “One Voice” with 30 campers who have Williams Syndrome, a developmental disability that happens at birth and can include learning disabilities but often results in striking verbal abilities and an affinity for music.
For an hour Moore, Copperman and Nite led the workshop where they crafted a song from start to finish with the help of the students. Held in a lecture hall at Nashville’s Scarritt Bennett Campus, the campers’ boundless energy was evident and had an infectious effect on each songwriter. Moore, who was battling an illness ahead of the workshop, admits that the moment he entered the room his demeanor changed.
“It was hard to get out of bed this morning,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville following the morning’s writing session. “I had a pretty hardcore fever for about 24 hours but the minute I sat down in there, I saw how excited everybody was to be a part of this. It was a very empowering moment. I immediately felt better and I was excited to be there and I was excited to be in it. It was truly a joyful experience to be a part of.”
Moore says the campers threw out some great ideas and made writing the track easy. He, Copperman and Nite helped to massage the lines the campers suggested to make what would become “One Voice.” When the workshop began, Nite said the idea for a song called “One Voice” came to him in the shower earlier that morning. He then sang what would become the song’s melody.
“Should we start with that?” Copperman asked the room to a resounding yes. He then began taking ideas from the campers. One volunteered the suggestion “one voice can change a life” while another added “one voice can change a dream.” These lines laid the groundwork for “One Voice” as Copperman continued calling on each camper to add to the growing list of lyrics written on the classroom’s whiteboard.
As Nite began singing the lines thrown out to the melody he had, Moore joined in, suggesting to combine a few lines. He then began to sing his suggestion while strumming a guitar. “One voice can make a dream. One voice can change a life and that life can change the world,” Moore sang. The room then erupted in chants of “Kip! Kip! Kip!” in approval.
Nite, who like Moore was also experiencing the workshop for the first time, says he had an unbelievable experience helping the campers write a song.
“[I had] no clue what I was getting into other than Ross has done this many years and he said, ‘It will change your life. The way that they appreciate music and the way they’re so joyful and full of life and full of love for what we do as a living.’ You could see it in their eyes. They’re just smiling as wide as they can smile, it made me smile. It’s fun to watch them enjoy it,” he shares. “Every person said an idea and tried to move the song along. It was a true co-write with 30, 40 people.”
Nite says that going forward he’ll appreciate what he does for a living as a songwriter more, having seen how much joy writing a song together brought the campers.
“It’s a job for us. We want to make the best songs we can make and then sometimes you forget until you see a live show where everybody’s singing every word and screaming every word,” he admits. “Those campers in there were on fire and in love with music like all of us were when we were kids and learning about music. It was incredible.”
The campers and the three songwriters continued to flesh out the song and within 35 minutes they finished “One Voice.” They then rehearsed the song several times before recording it as a rough demo. The campers will visit a local studio to record “One Voice” on Monday (June 18) before performing it on the Grand Ole Opry stage Tuesday (June 19) evening with Craig Morgan.
Copperman has been assisting with the workshop for the past seven years and says it’s an event he looks forward to all year long. He’s gotten to know the campers, seeing many familiar faces year after year, and admires their passion for life.
“They just say what they feel and [when] they talk, there’s no filter with them. It’s all about love and loving people and gratitude and thankfulness. I feel like a lot of times in life you forget about that and it takes this day to remind you that life is precious,” Copperman shares. “It was pretty crazy to be able to put a song together in 35 minutes with a whiteboard. It was pretty impressive to watch Jon and Kip to go back and forth and go, ‘Oh, that should be the verse. No, that’s the chorus.’ I don’t take that for granted, how talented all these people are in Nashville. And they are so talented, the campers had great ideas.”
As a token of their appreciation for Copperman’s support, ACM Lifting Lives presented the songwriter with a $10,000 check for his high school, where he is in the process of building a recording studio.
“I would love to lead a camp like this. I want to try and maybe start doing that in small towns all over the country, with studios. Where I started, I didn’t have the opportunity. I didn’t know I had the option when I was a kid. I thought you either were good at football and you maybe got a scholarship to play college football or you got a job in your town,” he admits. “I saw my high school kids recently and I saw that same thing in them and I thought, ‘Gosh, I just want to show them that you can write songs. You can do anything you want to do.’ I hope I can make them realize that.”
The 9th Annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp runs through June 19 and hosts musically talented campers ranging from the ages of 16-50 who have Williams Syndrome. The week also serves as a way of studying Williams Syndrome.