HERE IS OUR AWARD-WINNING 2021 FACULTY
...includes the top writers in Christian music. They devote the Write About Jesus weekend to sharing their knowledge and giving analysis and advice. They're with our registrants throughout the day, not just during classes, but chatting between classes in the hallways and joining them at meals.
Collectively they are…
— the winners of over 50 Dove Awards
— the writers of over 100 number one songs
— the writers of over 150 musicals
performed in churches around the world
— the writers of countless cuts by top Christian artists
More important than cuts, awards and number ones is the heart of each member of the faculty. Each one has been invited to Write About Jesus for more than their expertise, but because they believe in helping to open the door for others.
The WAJ faculty changes from year to year, but it always includes top writers who are currently getting cuts in Pop/AC/CCM, Southern Gospel, Worship, and Print and Choral. Representatives from several publishers, A&R directors, and producers round out the faculty, giving Write About Jesus a 8:1 registrant-to-faculty ratio. This gives our registrants lots of opportunity to connect with these music business pros.
SUE C. SMITH,
WORKSHOP FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR
Sue is a five-time Dove-award winning songwriter and the writer of 16 #1 songs. In July of 2020, she was given the Susan Unthank Award for the impact she has made on Christian music. She's nominated in 2020 for two Dove Awards: Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year ("What Kind Of Man," written with Kenna West and Jason Cox) and Musical Of The Year (Is He Worthy?, created with Russell Mauldin). She is the writer of an astonishing 100 musicals published by Brentwood-Benson Music. She is a staff writer with Capitol Christian Music Group, where she has their longest running staff songwriting contract, and with Daywind Music Publishing. Sue is the author of three books: 365 Of Songwriting Advice: The Best of the Write About Jesus Interviews, Adventures In Songwriting: A Guide for Kids—And Anyone Who Wants to Write Songs, and Every Hallelujah: A Songwriter's Journey Through The Psalms. Sue and her husband John founded the Write About Jesus® Workshop in 2000.
January 6, 1934-October 27, 2020
John was a widely-respected family and career counselor and motivational speaker. He served as the president of the Board of Directors for MOHELA an organization whose mission was to assist students with low cost loans for college. As president of the City of St. Charles School Board as well as an administrator working with private schools, he developed servant leadership programs for school administrators, faculties, and students.
During his years as administrator of Living Word Christian Schools in Fallon, MO, the high school enrollment quadrupled under John’s leadership. He was the founder of One Accord Ministries, Write About Jesu® parent organization, and still serves as its director.
John's devotions were a highlight for many who have attended Write About Jesus throughout the years. He was well known for sharing his love for Jesus with everyone he met, and he prayed for literally hundreds of people each day during his retirement years.
John was always an integral part of the planning of Write About Jesus. He went home to his Lord two weeks after last year's workshop. We will miss his leadership so much this year, the first workshop we will do without him.
Gina Boe is a writer of songs, books, and blogs, as well as a singer and speaker. She is a Dove- award winning songwriter with multiple adult and children’s musicals to her credit, #1 songs, and songs recorded by numerous artists in a variety of genres.
Gina has dedicated herself to mentoring creatives of all ages, and to providing opportunities for creatives to experience community.
She recently released her second book, titled "What If They Fly? Raising Creative Kids to Believe They Can Soar." She also co-authored the book Adventures in Songwriting, with her friend, co-writer, and mentor Sue C. Smith.
Gina and her husband, Perry, make their home in Nebraska with their four children, two dogs and one cat. Theirs is a full and wild life.
Dave’s songwriting credits include hits that cross musical boundaries from contemporary Christian music to southern gospel, including songs recorded by Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, Steve Green, 4HIM, Al Denson, Point of Grace, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Glen Campbell, CeCe Winans, and many others.
Twenty-six of his songs have reached the #1 spot in the country on the Christian music charts. He is Director of Creative Development, A&R and Publishing for Lillenas Publishing Company. In 2009 Dave was awarded the prestigious ASCAP Living Legend Award.
Joe dan cornett
Joe Dan, a Nashville native, is currently the Creative Manager at Billy Blue Music Publishing and Daywind Music Publishing where he serves the staff writers and works within the Mainstream Bluegrass, Southern Gospel, Mainstream Country, and Worship/CCM markets. He has worked in several different facets of the music industry, which range from major market rock and country touring to the Film and TV department at BMI. His heart is to serve others and to help guide “creatives” towards their goals and aspirations.
For over 30 years, Dennis Dearing, a two-time Dove Award nominee for production, has invested his professional life in the music industry in Nashville, TN. A graduate of Belmont University with a Music Business degree (BBA), producer, guitarist and writer Dennis has worked and performed directly with notable artists and Grammy Award winners like Natalie Grant, Mathew West, Mandisa (American Idol), Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum), Jay Demarcus & Gary Lavox (Rascal Flatts), Joy Williams (The Civil Wars), Sara Evans, Kathy Troccoli, Travis Cottrell, Nicol Smith Sponberg, Todd Smith (Selah), 4-Him, Truth, Lisa Bevill, Charly McClain, Geoff Moore, The Martins, and David Phelps. Dennis lives in Franklin, TN where he owns his own production company and studio, Menace Music.
Cliff Duren is the Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA. In addition, Cliff is a songwriter, arranger and orchestrator, producing music resources for various church music publishers and projects for various recording artists each year. He is a 5-time Dove Award winner for his contributions to church music. Cliff was honored to compose his first film score for the faith-based film Champion, which hit theaters nationwide in May of 2017.
He became a Christian at age 17 and soon after pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Shorter University in Rome, GA, and a Master’s Degree in Church Music from Lee University in Cleveland, TN. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate from Southwestern Seminary in Dallas, TX. In March of 2002, Cliff married his college sweetheart, April. Together, they enjoy leading worship and ministering at many churches, conferences, and workshops. They reside in Woodstock, GA, with their 4 children: Mac, Sydney, Elijah, & Emma Kate.
Simon is an award-winning songwriter/producer and an Amazon best-selling author, based on the south coast of England, UK.
He was initially signed with Brentwood Benson Music Publishing/Universal CMG and is now signed with Great British Music Publishing, representing his work of over 300 songs in his catalog. Simon's had cuts with Vince Gill and Sheri Easter (“Livin' in the Rain,” #2 SOGO charts, long-listed for a Grammy), Mandisa (“Truth About Me”), Abandon (“Known”), Avalon (“Destined”), Gold City (“Never Too Broken,” #1 SOGO charts). Simon also received a Dove nomination for the musical LifeSong: The Musical, written with Sue C Smith. His modern hymn "He Is God," won Integrity/Thankyou Music's Search for a Hymn.
Simon is part of Harbour Creative, the Worship Team at Harbour Church based in Portsmouth, UK.
Simon's two books, Song Maps and The Organized Songwriter are both #1 bestsellers on Amazon internationally, with accompanying workbooks. All are available in Kindle, eBook, hard copy, and paperback. Simon is currently working on a third book, which is expected to be available toward the end of 2021.
Nashville singer, songwriter, producer, and music artist, Donna King, would be the first to say she feels like she has to pinch herself that she gets to wake up each day and do what she loves. She’s been working full-time in the music industry in all four of those capacities (singer, songwriter, artist, producer) for over thirty years. As a songwriter, King has celebrated dozens of cuts and singles in Christian music. She’s honored to be signed with Sunset Gallery Music, a renowned Christian music publisher. She also has a growing list of cuts and singles in Country music and that area of her work continues to expand. In 2013, she was awarded Producer of the Year by the esteemed Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. Her work as a producer on a variety of Christian albums is extensive. Though she enjoys every part of her work, Donna’s first love is to be in a room, writing a song with her wonderful cowriters. In addition to all of her industry work, Donna and her husband, Zane, known professionaly as Zane and Donna King, perform around Nashville’s Music City and in churches and concert venues across the country. They’ve also celebrated a TOP 10 song this year at radio with “Hard Times,” cowritten with Wayne Haun.
Zane King is a man of many talents and songwriting is one of his most grateful endeavors. He has written too many hits to list, but a couple that are most well-known and personal to his heart are “Keep Me In Your Will” and “Help Me Get Down On My Knees.” In addition to being a songwriter, he’s a world-renowned instrumentalist. He’s also been producing for years and does his fair share of singing too. All in all, he is best known as a “Man of Steel;” steel guitar that is. But, as a student from Berklee College of Music, if it has strings or keys, Zane can likely play it. Once in Nashville, he joined forces at Zion Music Group where he worked as a producer with Christian groups such as, the Crabb Family, McGruders, Lesters, Ivan Parker, Anchormen, Heaven Bound and many others. Following Zion, Zane was A&R director of Homeland Entertainment. While there he established a developmental label for the company and Journey Records was born. Fast forward to today, Zane has quite a significant role. He wakes up each day and brings help and hope to children in extreme poverty around the world. His full-time job is as Artist Relations Manager for Compassion International. While that job and his most important calling as husband and father keep him quite busy, he continues to write, play, and share hope through music with his wife, Donna. God definitely brought them together and they form a powerful partnership; first, in life, love, and family, and second, in the music business.
Don is a professional songwriter, publisher and record producer. He signed his first publishing deal in 1986 and since then, he has written 39 number one songs in the Christian radio market and has worked with some of the biggest names in Christian music. Some of his best known songs include “In Christ Alone” by Michael English, “Mercy Said No,” “Adonai,” “Strange Way to Save the World,” “Mercy Came Running,” “Crucified With Christ” and “The Basics of Life.” A few of the artists he has Produced include Avalon, 4-Him, Larnelle Harris, Newsong, Greg Long, Charles Billingsley, Al Denson, Dallas Holm and Matthew Ward. Don has also played keyboards on recordings for Avalon, 4-Him, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Fred Hammond, Rascal Flatts, Craig Morgan and others. Don has received 6 Dove Awards including Song of the Year, Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year and Inspirational Record of the Year.
He now Serves as Vice President of Creative (A&R and Publishing) at Red Street Records. Don lives in Nashville with his wife, Leslie, and their three children, Tyler, Kendall and Carson.
Now in his fourth decade as a professional songwriter, Joel Lindsey has established himself as one of the most prolific and sought-after writers in the industry. With a catalog of over 2000 recorded songs to his credit, including over 35 #1 songs, 21 Dove Awards, 9 BMI Awards, 2 ASCAP awards, 4 Platinum records, 7 Gold records and 11 platinum videos, Lindsey continues to create new music in a wide variety of genres.
His songs have been recorded by such Gospel/Christian artists as Selah, Sandi Patty, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Avalon, Gaither Vocal Band, Point of Grace, Mark Lowry and many more. Mainstream artists who have given voice to his songs include Patti LaBelle, Kristin Chenoweth, Chris Mann, the Backstreet Boys, The Oak Ridge Boys, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Ty Herndon, Kathy Lee Gifford, Dailey & Vincent and others.
In addition to writing songs, Joel is the co-founder and co-owner of Sunset Gallery Music and its subsidiaries. Sunset Gallery is the publishing home for 18 exclusive songwriters working in multiple genres.
Lindsey is also an owner and A&R Director for the recently formed Club44 Records, a label which specializes in the American Songbook, jazz and cabaret music. Artists such as jazz-great Jane Monheit, Broadway star and crooner Nicolas King, tv icon Linda Lavin, as well as Cabaret legends such as Billy Stritch, Klea Blackhurst and Jim Caruso give this label its unique appeal.
Joel Lindsey lives in Santa Barbara, California and is an exclusive songwriter for Curb Music Publishing.
Grammy-nominated, Dove Award winning songwriter Krissy Nordhoff has written worship songs for many popular artists, including Tauren Wells, Jenn Johnson, Jordan St. Cyr, Natalie Grant, Mandisa, and Darlene Zschech, and for churches including Life.Church and Cross Point Church. Founder of the Brave Worship and Writing Worship communities, Krissy has a passion for encouraging and resourcing the next generation of songwriters, She lives in Thompson's Station, TN, with her husband and their three children.
A Dove Award-winning songwriter, Belinda has seen hundreds of her songs recorded by renowned artists in the Christian and Gospel genres, including several number ones (a few include “In Time, On Time, Every Time” by Gold City, “I Stand Redeemed” by Legacy V, “Over and Over” by Jeff & Sheri Easter and “I Know Enough” by The Bowlings) and numerous award- nominated hits. She landed the Dove Award for Bluegrass Song of the Year for “So Many Years, So Many Blessings“ by the Lewis family. Additionally, she’s penned the Christmas musical “Once You’ve Seen the Star” along with having numerous placements in various other print and productions. Belinda has written for three projects which have beennominated for Grammy Awards, most recently with hit writer and artist Tim Menzies. She’s presently signed as a staff writer for Daywind Music and owns 7th Row Music, a publishing company.
Bryan is a music business veteran of 28 years and has held positions at Sony as VP, Marketing and EMI/Capitol Christian Music Group as Director, Artist Development working with Steven Curtis Chapman, Elevation Worship, Hillsong, Third Day, Amy Grant, Matthew West, & TobyMac to name a few. Currently, he is an Artist & Brand Manager with The Fuel Music (Pat Barrett, Vertical Worship, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Chris McClarney, Lydia Laird & more).
In his “side job” he has performed on stage beginning at 5 years old trying to impress his elementary school teachers, all the way to performing with Amy Grant in front of 60,000 people trying to impress his parents. Bryan has also been a worship leader for over 15 years and has a deep passion for seeing songs connect with people. He has worked in every side of the music business and says he is “always a student” of the industry because it changes daily and that is the best job in the world.
Kenna is a recording artist, multi-Dove Award-winning songwriter, and five-time “Songwriter of the Year.” With over 100 “Song of the Year” nominations and 25 wins to her credit, she has also garnered eight BMI Awards for her work on songs like “Say Amen,” “Even Me,” and “I Am Blessed.” Kenna’s songs have appeared on GRAMMY®-winning projects by Hillary Scott (of Lady A) and Jason Crabb, along with eight GRAMMY®-nominated recordings. You can find her work on projects by artists such as The Martins, The Isaacs, Michael English, Triumphant Quartet, Joseph Habedank, The Crabb Family, Finding Favour, Tim Miner, Take 6, Charles Billingsley, The Booth Brothers, The Oak Ridge Boys, Karen Peck & New River, Jimmy Fortune (of the Statler Brothers), Mac Powell (of Third Day), Jeff & Sheri Easter, Brian Free & Assurance, Marty Raybon (of Shenandoah), The Talleys, The Nelons, Selah, Legacy 5, Travis Cottrell, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, Tribute Quartet, Lauren Talley, The Sound, 11th Hour, High Road, Gordon Mote, The Erwins, Greater Vision, The Blackwood Brothers, and many more. After two decades of songwriting, Kenna has penned over 1,000 titles, with over 50 reaching the top of the national charts, including 20 which have reached #1 with the Singing News. Additionally, Kenna has penned six musicals for the church, including Word Music’s best-selling “We Are Witnesses,” along with the Dove Award nominated projects, “Love Won” and “Christmas is in the Heart.”
In August, Kenna released her debut artist project with the Crossroads Label Group entitled “A Reason for Hope.”
Kenna lives near Nashville with husband Kerry (sound engineer for country music artist, Ronnie Milsap) and their son, Graham, who is pursuing a doctorate in computational science.
Tony Wood is a five-time Dove Award winner, nominee for Songwriter of the Year and writer of 33 #1 songs. Artists recording his songs include Michael W. Smith, Francesca Battistelli, Matt Redman, Zach Williams, For King & Country, Mandisa, Micah Tyler, Austin French, Big Daddy Weave, 7eventh Time Down, We Are Messengers, Point of Grace, Sandi Patty, Gaither Vocal Band, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs and many others. Tony is a staff writer for WORD Music Publishing. You can follow him on Instagram at: tonywood_exit71.
Holly is Sr. Vice President for Essential Music Publishing (EMP), and this year became Head of Creative for Provident Label Group (PLG). She was the first executive hired to run Essential Music Publishing as Sr. Director, and in 2013 she was promoted to VP. Over the last 13 years, Holly and her team have over 17,000 copyrights and more than 70 No. 1 songs, including “You Say” recorded by Lauren Daigle, Zach Williams’ “There Was Jesus,” For King & Country‘s “Together,” Tauren Wells‘ “Famous For,” among many others. Through her leadership, Provident’s Publishing division has received four GMA Dove Awards for Song of the Year, was named 2019 and 2020 BMI Publisher of the Year, and is a four-time SESAC Publisher of the Year.
Under Holly’s direction, EMP has been responsible for signing and partnering with songwriters such as Jason Ingram, Ethan Hulse, Mia Fieldes, and Jonathan Smith, to name a few. They have also signed and represented Provident Label Group artist/songwriters Williams, Wells, Matt Maher, CAIN, and more. Also under her leadership, EMP developed the Essential Worship imprint and church marketing platform, representing hundreds of worship songs for the church including “Graves Into Gardens,” “Goodness of God,” “Great Are You Lord,” “Reckless Love,” “Tremble,” “Glorious Day,” as well as worship/church platforms Elevation Worship, Vertical Worship, Red Rocks Worship, and others.