Eric Gnezda took the idea that "the most powerful musical expression is one voice, one instrument" and developed it into "Songs at the Center," now broadcast on more than 265 public-television stations nationwide.

Eric Gnezda took the idea that "the most powerful musical expression is one voice, one instrument" and developed it into "Songs at the Center," now broadcast on more than 265 public-television stations nationwide.

From 8 to 10 p.m. Feb. 16, Gnezda, a former Delaware resident who now lives in Worthington, will perform with two other award-winning singer-songwriters from the television series at Pat's Endangered Species -- The Last Record Store on Earth, 11 W. Winter St.

Craig S. Heath and Keith Larsen will perform with Gnezda, part of what Gnezda called a "mini-tour" featuring the three.

Heath, of Logan, is a four-time Ohio Music Awards winner, while the Columbus-based Larsen, a former firefighter, won the People's Choice Award in the Nashville Songwriters Association International-CMT annual competition.

An Ohio Wesleyan University graduate, Gnezda worked in journalism, then in sports information for OWU before leaving to form his own music and keynote-speaker business. He also continues to write and record songs.

He "never consciously aspired" to create a TV show, he said, but when he got the idea for "Songs at the Center," "it would not let me ignore it."

He said he envisioned it as a showcase for those making their living as singer-songwriters, joined by an audience on stage.

After a start on the MeToo television channel, the program began to air in 2015 on WOSU-TV in Columbus.

Stacia Hentz, WOSU's program director, suggested approaching American Public Television about syndication, Gnezda said.

The show then went national; it will begin its fifth season May 1. WOSU airs the program at 11 p.m. Saturdays.

The last episode of the season will be recorded at the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St., Columbus, in a free show set from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 10.

The television show's list of performers has included famous names such as John Oates, Marc Cohn, Peter Asher, Albert Lee, Carl Jackson, Delbert McClinton, Bruce Cockburn and Tom Paxton, Gnezda said, as well as a number of rising performers.

Most of the shows are recorded in central Ohio, he said, with the hosts, singers and audience on stage to capture the performances' intimacy and underscore that "a master songwriter can take us anywhere in 3 1/2 minutes."

Jack FitzGerald, executive producer of "Songs at the Center," said there is a "fascination" with music from the heartland.

"It's kind of surprising to us how eagerly the country's TV programmers have accepted the show," he said.

Gnezda sought to elevate the singer-songwriter genre and "wanted it to be authentic and feature great and often unrecognized music," FitzGerald said.

The show has a crew of central Ohio production talent, FitzGerald said, including Alan Beavers of Worthington and Andy Herron, also the program manager of the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.

Endangered Species owner Pat Bailey said he knew Gnezda when he lived in Delaware.

The store has a 96-seat performance space, dubbed the Pat Cave, in the basement, Bailey said, which hosts monthly performances.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the store, via its Facebook page or by calling 740-417-4776.

Endangered Species specializes in music on vinyl and compact disc, with more than 20,000 pieces in stock, Bailey said.

He said his sales are almost evenly divided between vinyl and CD, and the notion that those formats have been replaced by digital music is "fake news. ... It's just not true in my case."

Gnezda's music and business website is gnezda.com.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews