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Thu, Dec. 05

Kingman songsmith has been writing music for nearly 30 years
Mike Britt hosts Nashville artists in the Hualapais for songwriter showcase

Mike Britt, songwriter and owner of Patriot Environmental, shows off one of the many guitars he took to Nashville to get them signed by the artists he met. (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

Mike Britt, songwriter and owner of Patriot Environmental, shows off one of the many guitars he took to Nashville to get them signed by the artists he met. (Photo by Vanessa Espinoza/Daily Miner)

Although he doesn’t sing or play the guitar, he writes songs for those that have the vocal chords and can strum to the lyrics.

Mike Britt has been a songwriter since 1992 and has written over 1,000 songs. It all started with listening to classic country singers like Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and especially Chris LeDoux.

“I listened to a lot of their music and thought, ‘I can write stories. I can probably do something like that,’ so I started writing down stories over the top of music, my stories over the top of their songs,” Britt said about practicing his songwriting.

About five years later, his friends pitched in money to send him off to Hollywood to Capitol Records where they were having the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a membership association of more than 720,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Britt said he wrote a lot of songs and sent them to Nashville to get recorded. In Hollywood he spotted a country music critic. Britt decided to attend every class the critic attended to hopefully hand over his songs.

“All of these big wigs in the industry at the time would say ‘Don’t hand me your CD; if you send your CD in we have stacks and won’t listen to them,’” Britt said.

He thought he wasn’t going to get heard, but he didn’t give up. Britt decided to go to a Best Buy kiosk to purchase a few iPod Nano’s to put his songs. One of the iPod Nano’s had the name Ralph Murphy, a Nashville music critic, on it. He put 10 of his songs on the iPods and carried them in his pocket.

“I just happened to be at a bar, I was standing at the bar at the end of the day talking to a friend on the phone and who walks up behind me is Ralph Murphy,” Britt said.

Britt acknowledged that it was Murphy and said to him he has an iPod with his name on it.

“I pulled out of my pocket a plastic case that says to Ralph Murphy on it,” he said.

About two weeks later, Britt received a call from Murphy saying he listened to his songs and made sure Britt was signed with someone. Murphy put him in contact with Dan Hodges who had some association with Garth Brooks. Hodges flew out to see Britt so he could write songs for his team.

“So I started flying down there every six weeks to Nashville and started doing that for four years,” Britt said.

He started to make connections with different people in the music industry and created a family of writers. One of his biggest hits was a song he co-wrote with Christie Lamb called “He’s the Trouble,” which reached number four on the music charts.

He has guitars that cover his walls with various signatures from artists he has encountered throughout his life. Britt has never collected anything in his life so he decided to start with guitars.

Britt said, he would go to yard sales, buy used guitars to take with him on trips to Nashville, and have the guitars signed.

Alongside Kelly and Troy Walls, a country duo from Nashville, they created the Hualapai Writers Showcase. The showcase has been around for about five years and brings about 16 songwriters from Nashville to the Hualapai’s to write music for 7 to 10 days. At the end of the retreat the artists showcase the music they have been working on.

“We have three signed artists with record deals and every songwriter up here has a publishing deal,” Britt said. “It’s not a bunch of folks getting together to write a song, these are all hit makers and award winning.”

Many of the artists were nominated for Grammys and Emmys. While the songwriters are in town, they stay with the residents in the Hualapai Mountains.

“There’s two reason we are successful doing this up here, that is the Hualapai families that live on this mountain are just so supportive, they open their homes, they open their kitchens, they open their wallets, to allow this to happen to the community,” Britt said. “And the other thing is the dedication of these songs writers that come up here are so dedicated at being successful.”

Advice Britt said he would give upcoming songwriters is to collaborate with other artists and network, be open minded, write down your hooks and don’t get caught up in wanting it in your own way.

“If you’re country and if you want a really good shot of being a song writer or artists in the country business move to Nashville because that’s where you’re going to be the best networking,” Britt said.

The net proceeds of the showcase will go to the Pine Lake Fire District and to the Grammys Recording Academy Musicares, which provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.

Mike Britt and his wife Sherri are the owner of Patriot Environmental on Beale Street.

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