The Singer and Performer
The Artist Manager
The Wife and Mother
How She Got to Nashville
Five Star Farm
As a songwriter, Sherri Gough (pronounced “Goff”) has placed in most every major song competition, including the USA Songwriting Competition, the International Songwriting Competition (ISC), the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and the CMT/NSAI Songwriting Contest, as well as several others, including two first place wins. But what’s even more unique is the fact that these wins included several different categories, including Country, Gospel/Inspirational, Comedy/Novelty, Children’s Songs, and Lyrics.
She has written with some of the best writers in Nashville; writers who have multi number one hit singles with major label artists like Rascal Flatts, Montgomery Gentry, Faith Hill, Rodney Atkins, Brad Paisley and so many more. “You could sit in a living room with these people for an hour and sing every one of their songs because you know them from the radio. It’s incredible the things I’ve learned from these writers. ‘Awesome talent’ doesn’t even begin to explain them. Their love for writing music is contagious.”
She was featured on the cover of a songwriting magazine in Europe because of her songwriting success. Her music has been recorded by several independent artists, featured at various events, and included on a DVD series. She has had holds with several major label artists as well, and is actively pitching songs all over the row.
As a singer and performer, she recently released an acoustic project with 10 songs of fun, faith and feeling. “I wanted to sing my own music for a change, instead of hearing other people sing it all of the time. This CD gave me the ability to express my music the way I wanted to. It’s truly from my heart.”
She performs at various venues around Nashville, including The Bluebird Café, The Listening Room, Hotel Indigo, and 3rd and Lindsley, among others.
Sherri has also written and recorded several a cappella Children’s Bible songs, some of which have won awards. Each song is based on a Bible character. She has written corresponding puppet scripts to go with the songs, useful for teaching in a Children’s Worship setting.
As an author, she recently published her first book called Dust: A Book for Broken People to encourage those affected by addictions, depression, or hard times in their lives. “I’ve seen lots of extremely creative, super-talented people who are struggling with really hard stuff in their lives. They are probably struggling with these things because they are extremely creative. Artistic people are more prone to addictions. They are always searching, more than a ‘normal’ person would. All of us in the music community aren’t exactly normal, you know! We’re different. We’re visionaries. We’re dreamers. We’re the kind of people who change the world. But we’re also the kind of people who need more love and acceptance because of our uniqueness. So we search for ways of coping, and often that turns into drug or alcohol abuse, or some other kind of unhealthy addiction.”
Sherri has experienced some hard times in her life, though she has never been addicted or considered clinically depressed. But, like writing a song, she reached inside and imagined the thoughts and feelings of someone in that situation. She wrote the book to help give creative people hope and inspiration in the middle of dark times in their lives. It is even designed to help people deal with the struggle of suicidal tendencies.
“I approach the whole book from a first-person perspective. The book is talking as the person experiencing pain, and validates the feelings that someone might have if they were stuck in their life with no hope, no determination, no self-love, no purpose. It just tells them to hang on and a new chapter will come around. I do know from experience that pain doesn’t last forever. This book lets people know that they are loved no matter who they are, what they’ve done or what they’ve experienced.”
“God created every person for a specific reason. If they are breathing, then they still have a purpose on this earth. Even if they don’t see it. And who isn’t breathing?”
Sherri has motivational merchandise to go with her book, like wristbands that say “My life is more than just DUST.” She says “The wristbands are a reminder that you are here to do more than just exist. All the other merchandise like the t-shirts and thumb rings and necklaces…they are just a reminder for the person wearing them that they have worth. They have worth to God, to others, and to this world.” Check out the store on this website for details. It’s an epic motivational movement, not just a book.
Dust: A Book for Broken People has already caught the attention of thousands of people from around the world. “I have a Facebook site for this book, and in two weeks there were almost 2,000 people signed up for it. I was totally amazed. These people were from all over the world; Pakistan, India, Turkey, Armenia, China, Russia, The Phillipines…just everywhere. And of course from America too. I guess there is pain everywhere in the world.”
Sherri has several other books in the works right now, and will publish them in the near future. “Some of my books are already written, they just need to be organized and published.” Topics of future books include a book on God’s plan, an inspirational book of spiritual articles, children’s Bible stories for puppet theater, a book about adoption, a parenting book, and a book about the music business, for starters.
As a publisher, she is the owner of Steel Train Music, named for the ability of a moving Steel Train to crash through anything. “With enough momentum and determination, I can do anything.” When asked about her view of the music business she comments, “The worst thing you can do is nothing. Think ahead, think differently, and then do something. Even if it’s not exactly the right thing to do, it will give you momentum, and with that momentum you can accomplish great things.”
As an artist manager, she is involved in helping artist Kaitlyn Baker from Virginia, a stunningly beautiful 16-year-old with a unique and powerful voice like you’ve never heard before. “The first time I heard her sing, I knew I had to help her somehow. I had never heard anything like it before, and still haven’t! I can’t even explain it; she moves her voice like nothing I’ve ever heard and the tone of her voice is gorgeous. You just have to hear her for yourself. Kaitlyn is this beautiful blonde with a contagious smile and positive attitude, and she writes and plays guitar, and she’s as determined as anyone I’ve ever known…the whole package.”
As a wife and mother, Sherri and Greg, her husband of 17 years, have 5 children, four boys and a girl, ages 9-15. Three of their children were adopted as a sibling group from the foster care system as siblings.
“There are so many kids…so many great kids…who just need a good home and a chance. I guarantee if you look at their faces and see their stories, you’ll want to adopt one! Some have major problems, and you have to be a very special person to deal with medically fragile children, for example, but not all of these kids in the system are ‘problem kids.’ Even the older ones; they just want a chance to be loved.”
“We adopted ours when they were 5, 6, and 8, and they are so giving and loving and just incredible. Everyone should consider it. It might not be for everyone, but everyone should know about it. They should know that there are so many kids, over 100,000 in America right now waiting to be adopted. And there are no costs to adopt them either. If they don’t get adopted, they usually end up homeless or in prison. So every child that gets adopted from foster care is making America a better place. That’s the way I look at it.”
Sherri is on the board of Agape Nashville, a local adoption and counseling agency. She applauds the efforts of others who support foster care and adoption, like Internet sites such as adoptuskids.org, nwae.org, and adoptchildren.org. She supports “Heart Galleries” around the country. Heart Galleries are exhibits of professional pictures of foster care children that are circulated throughout the community to raise awareness about children available for adoption.
She also has a great respect for country music artist and fellow foster care supporter Jimmy Wayne. Jimmy experienced foster care and homelessness as a child, and walked halfway across America to raise awareness for kids in foster care. He speaks all over the country about his story, and writes songs about his experiences. He spoke and sang at Agape Nashville’s annual dinner in 2011.
Sherri adds, “The only difference between Jimmy, a #1 singer and songwriter, and a kid in foster care right now, could be someone to step forward and give them a chance; give them a home. God loves the hurting hearts too.”
For more information about Jimmy Wayne’s walk and foundation, visit projectmmh.org.
For more information about Agape Nashville, visit agapenashville.org.
A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sherri considers Nashville a “small town.” But don’t let that fool you. She is big on small town charm and close-knit communities.
“I just love the music community here in Nashville. It’s like a big family. Everyone is respectful and most people try to help each other without wanting anything in return. Most people I hang out with think that if one person we know is successful, we all are. There’s not even a second thought to supporting someone else.”
Sherri started showing musical ability at a very young age. “I started writing music when I was 4. Yeah, I didn’t really believe it either. How can a 4-year-old write a song? Well, my mom showed me a song written on staff paper with the notes all drawn out and the words underneath it. The date on the paper was when I was 4-years-old. So, just like a lot of people in this business, I guess it’s always been in my blood.”
Coming from a family where music wasn’t practiced on a daily basis, Sherri was by herself when it came to playing and writing. “My mom always sang in a ladies choir, ever since I can remember. And my grandfather on my dad’s side played mandolin. Other than that, there were no musical people in my family. My dad used to joke and say ‘I can play the radio.’”
She crafted her songwriting abilities all throughout her childhood and high-school years, and even into her early college years. She had already figured out all of the music theory before she got to class. “I remember taking music theory at the U of M and thinking ‘oh, wow, that’s what that chord is called.’ I knew what it was, and what it sounded like, because I wrote songs and used different chord progressions all of the time. But taking music theory taught me the names of everything I already knew in my head.”
She often wrote songs alone, in fact, she always wrote songs alone. “I just didn’t know any other writers. It wasn’t like I got into writing because all my friends were doing it and I was around it all of the time. I did it because it was a part of me. At times, my piano was my best friend.”
So, with a knowledge of the craft of songwriting she made her way to Nashville. But not for the reasons most people make the Mecca journey to Music City, USA.
“I transferred to a small Christian University in Nashville and became a Finance and Management major. Really! After college, I did bank audits and worked at a CPA firm. Then I got married and had kids. I never did anything with my music except record songs for friends and family.”
One day, a friend of hers came to Nashville, and over a cup of coffee, looked her straight in the eye and said “Sherri, how do you NOT record stuff in these studios all the time? If I lived here, I’d be doing music all the time.” It was then that the proverbial light bulb went off in Sherri’s head.
“Duh! I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing music here. I lived in Music City and I was a writer, and I wasn’t involved in the music community at all. What was I thinking?”
From that point on, she dove in with both feet, into a world to which she is now immersed. She started by earning a coveted spot in Jeffrey Steele’s Songwriter Bootcamp.
“There were 12 of us there, and we were chosen from about 500 people. It was the first time I thought that I might actually be good enough to succeed in this business. Because if Jeffrey Steele thought I was good enough, then apparently I had to be. Who am I to doubt such an awesome writer? Ha ha…”
She credits that bootcamp with her success today. “If I had never attended that camp, I probably wouldn’t be doing music right now, and I mean that sincerely. Not only was Jeff an inspiration, but I met the most incredible people in that camp. Most of them have become my co-writers, and some of them my closest friends. We really encourage each other, and you can’t survive in this business without encouragement from somewhere.”
Greg and Sherri and their family live in Nashville, but also own a 300-acre farm in Lyles, TN, about 45 minutes west of Nashville.
Greg, along with help from a lot of contractors, has turned that farm into a retreat center with 4 first-class cabins, a 8,500 sq. foot lodge with a large eating area, a stage, a state-of-the-art kitchen, bunk rooms, and a green room and master bedroom/bath area for celebrities or keynote speakers. The farm also has a lake, fountain, canoes, kayaks, a creek, 4-wheelers, hunting and fishing opportunities, a hot tub overlooking the lake, basketball court, and lots and lots of trails to ride or hike.
“It transformed from a beautiful farm with a creek and a cabin, to a full-fledged retreat center with everything you’d want for a group retreat. It was all Greg. He researched everything, had a vision, and did it. I helped a little. But it was mostly his baby, his project. And it’s fabulous.”
Upon completion of the lodge in July of 2011, Sherri has plans for songwriter events and retreats there.
For more information, please see fivestarretreat.com.
Sherri is creative, diverse, and inspiring. But most of all, Sherri just wants to use those qualities to help people. “I feel like it’s my job to encourage and motivate people; to let them know that they are loved. I want to do that through my music, my books, my spirituality, and my life. Anyone can say anything. If I’m not living what I believe, then it doesn’t matter what I say. I just want to use everything God gave me to be a positive force in people’s lives. If I can do that, even to one person, then I have had a life worth living.”