I was blessed to meet Ms. Diana Williams this last fall at the ICM Awards. Diana writes some amazing songs and sings just as amazing. I have been working with her on a project she is releasing with an artist I work closely with. Diana has a precious heart, a love for music, and passion to make others smile.
Diana has blessed me by allowing me to interview her. I hope you all enjoy getting to know this precious lady like I have.
Diana Williams is a freelance writer of songs, stories and articles. Her lyrics often contain an embedded, nostalgic message. Diana refers to her lyrics as a tidbit of a self-help book that provides a moral to the story… with a light touch!
Diana is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, and Global Songwriters Connection. She enjoys writing lyrics and melodies for other songwriters. Another favorite activity is occasionally singing with her local band, Crow Hill for charity.
With roots in Oklahoma and Texas, Diana currently resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
INTERVIEW WITH DIANA WILLIAMS
How long have you been writing music? Since about 1978…I was going through a hard time and someone had given me an old Stella guitar. It was plywood with barbed-wire strings. I wasn’t aware at the time that you could change the strings. 🙂 As I was learning painful chords, something resonated with me and I wrote my first song which was called “I’m Not Your Love Anymore”. It felt so good to write down feelings and not just leave them in a journal somewhere, but to create a song I could sing and remember and rejoice that I had survived something difficult. I continued to write sad songs for awhile and was finally brave enough to sing them to other people. I was amazed they cried as if the same thing had happened to them. I realized my song was also someone else’s song – whether it was sympathetic or empathetic, it didn’t matter. It connected and that was what mattered. I still love sad songs – they make you feel better. Your soul loves to put it all out there – good, bad, or ugly – it will express it any way it can as a way of handing it to God for his answers and blessings.
Who do you feel has influenced you the most in your music career? It all started with my grandparents. They literally thought I could do anything. If I had listened to them, I would have started my music career a long time ago, but I didn’t have the faith in myself that they did. I lived with them for the first five years of my life and we watched Gospel Jubilee and the Grand Ole Opry and that was the major building block for me. I would pull a little footstool into the middle of the floor, stand on it and sing at the top of my lungs with Vestal Goodman or the Florida Boys or Tanya Tucker. And my grandparents would nod approvingly and tell me I was going to be on the Opry someday. I sang ‘specials’ in the church when I got older and some weddings here and there. When I met my husband, his family played bluegrass and their harmonies and instruments stunned me. The only families I had seen play music together were on the television and this family could have been there if they had wanted to go that direction. My mother-in-law would sing the old songs, making them brand new again – plain spoken songs that weren’t afraid to say Jesus or talk about Heaven or the pain of this world. Bluegrass and gospel were made for each other and their powerful messages always hit the mark with me.
I am all over the place with my songwriting influences, but having an Oklahoma accent, most things sound country even if they aren’t. Thank God for demo singers. 🙂
Vocally, I loved women who could belt out a song like Vestal Goodman, Linda Ronstadt, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston. I adore gospel quartets like the Booth Brothers and the Cathedrals – I would love to hear them sing “Willin'” – in case they are reading this. 🙂 As a songwriter, I’m blown away with the phrasings that sound so simple but probably took a long time to piece together. The last song that made me cry was “The House That Built Me”. I’d tried for years to write a song saying exactly what they so easily said. Later, I learned it took seven years to write that song.
What was the first song you had on the radio and who was the artist?
About a million years ago, someone played some rough recordings I had (of course, I didn’t know they were rough at the time). But more recently, I made a decision to try harder at writing quality songs and getting them out into the world. It really is like giving birth, dressing up your baby and sending it out for adoption. I’ve heard recently that some of my songs are on the radio and I am the artist on those, but I know for a fact there will be two more coming up that are very special to me. Stephen Rew will be releasing ‘I Want My Country Back’ in the spring and Carol Hogner will be releasing ‘They Saved The World’ very soon. I cannot wait to hear the feedback from those songs and the artist’s interpretations. I am very proud to know both Steve and Carol and honored for them to sing those songs in particular. They are both statement songs.
What would you say was the defining moment in your music ministry that you knew that this was what you wanted to do? A couple of things come to mind with that question. I hadn’t planned on a ministry – though I devoutly believe we are all displaying our ministry every day – a very scary thought for me at times. I didn’t plan any of this, but I wanted it all my life and though I didn’t know it, I needed it. I would get up in the middle of the night and write and it was my happy place. The calendar had a little something to do with it, too. It reminded me if I wanted to do this, I’d better get started, but at that time, I had only planned on writing songs – any kind of songs. I was wrapped up in learning all different styles and so on. Then I wrote ‘Willin’ and something happened. It fell on the page and when I read it, I realized I couldn’t have written that song because it taught me so many things I didn’t know. It was as if another person sang something and made me write it down. I hear ‘Never give up, Never give in’ in my head weekly. At that point, I knew I didn’t want to write just any type of song. I wanted to write songs that mattered. I began to hunger for songs with messages. I still didn’t care if they were secular or spiritual songs – in fact, when I hear a well-written song with a good solid, loving message, I know God is behind it. It reminds me that no matter who you are or what you have done, you are not alone and there is an answer. It blurs the line for me between a spiritual song and a secular song. I think the world itself is hungry for songs and stories with meaning and connection to our Creator. I have heard love songs that could be sang directly to God without changing one word. I think songs with meaning always hit their mark with any audience and let’s face it, there are people who have to be eased into the message of salvation and hope in everyday language so they relate, understand and then yearn for what God has to tell them. Their hearts can be made ready with words and context. I not only have met them and sang to them, I am one of them. I had to return in my heart to the little Morning Star church to remember – Jesus Loves Me This I Know / Just As I Am. I think those songs should have been written as one and they still restore the faith my grandparents had in me. I am here for a reason and I may not follow the same path in the same way, but God has plans for my middle of the night writings and I will do my best to stay out of the way. A song like ‘Let Me Ride’ is a good example of a song that doesn’t say God or Jesus, but it opens the conversation of why are you here? What is the dream you are after? Then the conversation of Who put you here is natural and easy. God has given me hundreds of hooks and ideas that are clearly designed to pull out a spiritual message in every day language and deliver them with heartfelt sincerity. For some reason, it only happens in the middle of the night. 🙂
What motivates you to keep going when you’re tired? I know the answer to this one! I have a full time job that runs about 60-70 hours a week with a dollop of high stress to top it off. I am grateful for not only the job, but (this is hard to say) for the stress because now I understand how blessed I am. I would have missed that knowledge without the days when I need to breathe into a paper bag. Writing songs, stories, articles, any kind of writing – talk about your long shot goals, I could play the lottery and have better odds. So here is what happens and I believe it is because I continually ask for help and signs of being on the right path. Every time I am overwhelmed by having a full-time job and a goal of being a great songwriter and a writer of meaningful stories and ideas – when I seriously begin to question my sanity and choices – then, some one calls or writes to me and tells me they love a song or they want me to help them write a song (or a story) and I am back on track. It is straight from my Father, letting me know I am doing what I should be and not worry about tomorrow or my list of to-do’s or the fact that I am out of chocolate. I am also like Mark Twain who could live a month on a good compliment. 🙂 God knows that about me, too – why else would I have had grandparents who told me every day what a good singer I was? God knew.
Do you find that you do well when writing songs directed to the market verses from your heart? I have written both and I have successfully pitched both, but if I had a wish for the future, I would only write from the heart. I believe you can do both at the same time, but it is difficult. There are things in this life that will bring you money and attention, but you might not be proud of them. I still feel Grandma listening and watching and her values are finally my values. I smile knowing she has probably told God about the Opry plan. It took a long time to understand what matters to me and to accept it, but now there isn’t any joy in trying to write any other way. I am happy to know this about my soul now and it will save time.
Do you have a funny story you can share with us of working with any particular artist? The funny story is what I found out about trying to write a song with my husband. I was very close to completing a song and needed more of a jump for the chorus. My husband sings beautiful harmony and you can hear him on some of my songs. I love our sound. His voice absolutely completes mine and gives us a very unique sound. I figured he would sing a little harmony on the song and that would give me the jump note I was looking for. We do have very different ways of doing things and I usually enjoy that. However…. I bet every married person knows what I am going to say – it came as a total surprise to me that we do not work well together on songwriting or probably any other kind of art. It was a very long 30 minutes and it has not been repeated. Just sayin’.
The other funny thing – when I visited The Grand Ole Opry for the first time, we were seated in the very back row (against the wall) in what I think were the only two seats left in the house. I remembered Grandma saying I was going to be on the Opry someday and how because she had said it and here I was…I looked up to Heaven and said, “You know God, I meant on the stage, not in the audience…right?”
Thank you so much Diana for sharing from your heart with us.
If you are looking for a great song to record be sure to contact Diana Williams. Check out her website below.
Dream Catcher 3:20