Worthington News

Singer/songwriters tape Songs @ the Center


Nine of central Ohio's talented singer/songwriters taped their first television show last week at Worthington's McConnell Arts Center (MAC).

Called Songs @ the Center, the program could air as early as the first of next year on WCMH affiliate MeTV, which is 4.2 on the digital dial. Negotiations are ongoing, but the chances of the show making the air are good, MAC director Jon Cook said.

"We will pay for air time, and if we want to provide commercial time, we can," Cook said. "The arts center will make it happen."

His commitment grows from his belief in the depth and breadth of the songwriting talent in central Ohio, he said.

Not surprising to Worthington residents, city native Eric Gnezda is at the core of the program and of the burgeoning singer/songwriter movement in the area. He hosts and produces Songs @ the Center and performs. Gnezda is well-known both locally and nationally for his songwriting and performing talent.

R.J. Cowdery, Keith Larsen and Jasey Schnaars are other top singer/songwriters. All perform across the country and have won many awards for their songs and their performances.

They just happen to live in central Ohio.

"These are good, quality writers," Gnezda said. "Also, Songs @ the Center will provide an opportunity for young writers and emerging artists."

In time, national artists also may perform on the show when they come to town, he said.

During the first taping session Oct. 21, the nine performers sat in the round on stage at the MAC, surrounded by the audience. More than 100 people were in the audience, which Cook sees as another sign that people really do appreciate the craft of songwriting in central Ohio.

"It was really great," he said. "It was a moving evening."

The singer/songwriter movement really seems to have caught fire in recent years, with clubs and even recording studios popping up all over.

Worthington seems to have taken center stage for the movement, with the MAC and Natalie's providing the venues for performances and opportunities for artists to meet and to expand and hone their talents.

Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza & Live Music, 5601 N. High St., just celebrated its first year of providing a showcase for regional talent.

At the MAC, a songwriter group meets the first Tuesday; there are jam sessions every other Tuesday; a young songwriters group meets the third Saturday; and the Nashville Songwriters Association, Columbus Chapter, meets once a month.

"It's a resurgence of people getting together and writing stuff and looking for an outlet to perform," Cook said.

Songs at the center grew out of everything the MAC provides, Gnezda said.

"It's what the McConnell Arts Center is about," he said. "It is its purpose."