Interviews with actor (and songwriter) Jeff Daniels and Eric Gnezda about our 100th episode!
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Grandview “Songs” crew takes home experiences, appreciation
Dec. 17, 2018
As Mary Beth Kauffmanwas greeting audience members Dec. 8 before a taping of the American Public Television concert series, “Songs at the Center,” at Grandview Heights High School, the junior peeked through the auditorium doors.
“I looked in and it was really cool to realize that wasn’t our stage, but that it had been transformed into a set for a TV show,” she said. “It was really interesting to learn all behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a TV show.”
Kauffman was one of four Grandview High students who volunteered to serve on the crew as two episodes of “Songs at the Center” were recorded in the auditorium. Read more>
National TV Series, Songs at the Center,
Releases Season Four
Ohio Strikes All the Right Chords
March-April, 2018, Issue
Editorial: Number ones are everywhere
You never know who or what the Columbus Foundation will celebrate in its annual National Number Ones observance, but you can count on an eclectic list that includes something you didn’t know about good things happening in central Ohio. That’s part of the intent behind the list. “I hope you don’t know half of them,” President and CEO Douglas Kridler prefaced in announcing the honorees from 2017 at a recent luncheon.
How else would singer/songwriter Eric Gnezda be feted on the same team with Ken Schnacke, Columbus Clippers president and general manager? Or how does Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of the Capitol Crossroads Special Improvement District, get paired with Edwaard Liang, artistic director of BalletMet?
Each of the 18 honorees — both individuals and organizations — was called out by Kridler and the foundation for representing “our smart and open city with their extraordinary accomplishments.” See columbusfoundation.org for the complete list.
For Gnezda, it was about producing “Songs at the Center,” a Columbus music series that is raising the area’s national profile on American Public Television. Schnacke was honored for Huntington Park being the No. 1 ballpark for Triple-A minor league teams on “Ballpark Digest’s” annual Best of the Ballparks list. Early handicappers might predict Schnacke will be back on the foundation’s list next year for his recent election to the International League Hall of Fame.
CELEBRATING COLUMBUS’ NATIONAL NUMBER ONES
COLUMBUS, OH (February 15, 2018) —Today, The Columbus Foundation celebrated the accomplishments of individual business and nonprofit leaders who were recognized for their outstanding contributions to our community over the past year. They were honored at the annual National Number Ones event held at the Foundation.
“We are proud to honor these champions who represent our smart and open city with their extraordinary achievements,” said Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation. “We applaud their accomplishments—from education and sports to community service and the arts—and look forward to continuing to shape Columbus’ bright future together.” Read more>
June 26, 2017 • Bringing Musical Healing to Patients at The James
As he sat down at his keyboard set up on the ground floor of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, and began playing and singing Blossoms of Hope, the expression on Eric Gnezda’s face changed.
The friendly smile turned into a look of compassion, love and, yes, hope.
“Blossoms of hope, grow side by side,” Gnezda sang as he launched into the chorus. “Friends help us cope till fears run and hide … energy flows with the love that’s inside those blossoms of hope.”
Gnezda is host of Songs at the Center, a popular American Public Television series that features performances by and interviews with singer-songwriters such as Don Henry, John Oates and Tom Russell. Read more>
February, 2017 • Singing Columbus’ Tune with ‘Songs at the Center’
Music scene showcased on TV aids in the city’s charm to possible residents.
By TC Brown
The public TV show ‘Songs at the Center’ could do for Columbus what ‘Austin City Limits’ did for the Texas capital. That’s music to the ears of those trying to attract new workers to central Ohio.
The popularity of a locally produced public television series is putting central Ohio on the national map as a music scene, and the show is spreading so quickly it has been compared to a fast-growing vine.
But that’s not all.
The positive attention “Songs at the Center” is generating for Columbus as an arts capital could contribute to the economic well being of the region. Research shows that a vibrant arts and cultural scene is a powerful magnet for drawing highly educated, high-tech workers to a community.
As its third full season began in January, “Songs at the Center” continues to mushroom. In 2015 it aired on four stations. It’s now on 146 public television stations in 84 markets in 25 states. And 12 percent of those stations are showing the program in prime time, a mind-blowing coup for a music show, according to public television pundits. Read more>
January, 2017 • Songwriter Spotlight, Ohio Magazine
“Songs at the Center,” a nationally syndicated TV series recorded near Columbus, has featured more than 50 musicians with Ohio ties in the show’s three seasons.
BY LORI MURRAY | PHOTO COURTESY OF DAN MITCHELL, MITCHELL MULTIMEDIA
When it comes to the music business, singer-songwriters don’t always get the attention they deserve. Although their songs often become the vehicles that propel other artists to fame, many songwriters spend the bulk of their careers out of the spotlight.
It’s the reason Ohio native and songwriter Eric Gnezda created “Songs at the Center,” a nationally syndicated television series featuring singer-songwriters performing in front of a live audience. “Songwriters are the heart of the music business,” he says. “And that’s why we’re trying to put them out front.”
The third season of “Songs at the Center” will debut Jan. 21 on central Ohio’s WOSU-TV, where viewers can watch the weekly program on Saturday nights at 11 p.m. right before “Austin City Limits.”
In the meantime, more than 130 stations throughout the country will continue to air previous “Songs at the Center” episodes until season three is available to them in May. In Ohio, the show airs on public TV stations that reach viewers in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron/Kent, Youngstown, Alliance, Cambridge, Portsmouth and Athens.
Most of the shows are recorded at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington — complete with stage directors, cameramen and lights — and each episode features three or four artists performing in the round while sharing the stage with members of the audience.
Some of the shows have featured high-profile Ohio artists such as “X Factor” finalist Josh Krajcik and guitarist and singer-songwriter Tim Easton, but many of the featured performers are not yet well known. Occasionally, established musicians such as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee John Oates and Grammy-winner Don Henry have appeared as well. To date, more than 50 Ohio songwriters or those with roots here have been featured.
“Ohio is rich in songwriting talent, and that’s really what got this started,” says Gnezda, who has been performing at music venues throughout the country, including regular appearances at the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, for decades. “I know so many talented songwriters in this state, and I wanted to give them the opportunity that I’ve had for the past 25 or 30 years.”
For more information about live tapings, visit songsatthecenter.com.
January 28, 2017 • Expanded ‘Songs at the Center’ showcases local music talent
By Julia Oller
When Eric Gnezda and Jack FitzGerald originally shared with TV station managers their vision of a musical segment based in Columbus but aired nationally, they were met with shrugs of indifference.
Two years later, their pet project is being welcomed with wide-open arms.
“Songs at the Center,” a half-hour program on PBS, features both local and national singer-songwriters playing short sets in front of a live audience at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.
In its short history — the final season-three taping is scheduled for tonight — the show has expanded its exposure from a single station (local affiliate WOSU-TV) to 147 stations nationwide.
Gnezda and FitzGerald have even had offers to uproot “Songs at the Center” from its central Ohio home.
“Eric is determined to keep it in Columbus as long as possible — forever, hopefully,” said FitzGerald, 67, the program’s executive producer. Read more >
January 26, 2017 • “Music & Healing,” All Sides with Ann Fisher, WOSU Radio 89.7 NPR News
February, 16, 2017 • Broad and High, WOSU-TV
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February, 21, 2017 • First Generation Entrepreneurs & What Matters Most
Creator & Host, SONGS AT THE CENTER
Q: WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU AS A BUSINESS OWNER? Balance. I believe that when we’re following our own path, our destination chooses us. Rarely can we, even in our wildest dreams, predict what that destination is. But, if we’re true to ourselves, our destination reveals itself to us step by step. Entrepreneurship provides us with the privilege of discovering our own path, in accordance with our values. It’s a process of living out our values, putting them into practice. And by remaining faithful to those values, we create the balance that’s important to us. For me, it’s family and friends, followed by the ability to serve others through my art and business venture.
Q: WHAT “FAILURES” HAVE YOU OVERCOME THROUGH YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY? I’ve never considered anything a failure. It may have been a risk that didn’t work out, or an idea that wasn’t executed well, or whose time hasn’t yet arrived. But invariably, we learn from the risks that fall flat and, next time around, go at it in a way that is more likely to succeed. The important thing is to be process-oriented rather than results-oriented. By focusing on the process, every day is an adventure in learning and growing. I’ve observed – and my own experiences have demonstrated to me – that if you do the “right” things for the “right” reasons consistently, the results usually take care of themselves. Looking back, the times that I’ve shortchanged myself, or come up shy of my goals, have invariably been situations when I didn’t fully commit myself (my heart) to the process. It’s in those times I re-evaluate my motivations and either move forward with renewed enthusiasm, or disengage and pursue another path. I believe that frequent (and brutally honest) reviews of one’s own motivations is critical to being successful in business and in life.
Q: WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO WAKE UP AND GO TO WORK EVERY MORNING? The opportunity to connect with someone through my art and through my business. Sometimes it’s through my “product,” sometimes through relationships, sometimes in ways I can’t predict. Nothing brings more meaning to me professionally than learning that something I created (a song, a particular TV episode, or a piece of writing) has made a difference in someone’s life. – Maybe it inspired them, or made them laugh, or just helped them get through a particularly difficult moment. Knowing I touched someone is the ultimate reward. Ultimately, that’s what I believe we all want to come from the human experience – confirmation that our efforts have counted for something to someone else.
Q: WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS? Two things: (1) Continually work to refine your communication skills. As entrepreneurs, we have to constantly “sell” our vision to others, including investors, customers, and associates. Our ability to communicate verbally and in writing is critical. (2) Be servant minded. It’s important to remind ourselves that the people who make enduring contributions to humankind are focused not on what they can acquire or achieve, but rather what they can give. A friend of mine is an insurance rep. He told me that he’s in this world to serve his fellow human beings – and he honestly believes he does that through selling his clients the insurance policies that are best for them. I later learned that he was the top sales rep in the country! When we focus on what truly matters, the results often take care of themselves.
January 12, 2017 • Three Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Third Season of OWU Faculty Member’s TV Show Earns National Syndication
If Ohio Wesleyan University faculty member Eric Gnezda were playing darts, he’d have just scored a hat trick – three consecutive bullseyes.
In Gnezda’s case, the longtime OWU speech lecturer, award-winning songwriter, and Emmy-nominated TV producer has earned national syndication for three consecutive seasons of his popular television show, “Songs at the Center.”
Season three of the show, which spotlights accomplished singer-songwriters, will debut locally at 11 p.m. Jan. 21 on WOSU-TV. The show is distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT) and currently is aired on more than 140 stations around the country. Read more>
January 5, 2017 • Columbus Neighborhoods, WOSU TV
February 12, 2016 • Songs at the Center Returns Saturday To WOSU TV
Written by: Stacia Hentz
A brand new season of Songs at The Center returns to WOSU TV Saturday night at 11pm. This great local program features accomplished singer-songwriters performing “in the round” before a live audience with artist interviews and short features.
In the new season two Songs at The Center introduces their special Master Series. Episodes in the Master Series feature performances and host Eric Gnezda spending some one-on-one time with the industry’s elite songwriters. First up in the Master series, airing February 27, is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member John Oates.
This Saturday’s episode of Songs at The Center features J. Scott Franklin, 2013 winner of the Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival Contest, singing “Clint Eastwood.” Eric Gnezda performs “Daddy’s Wheels” with violinist Arkadiy Gips, Mary Bragg brings her a seamless hybrid of her southern Americana roots and downtown Manhattan to “Edge of This Town” and Cincinnati resident Tracy Walker performs “Who We Are.”
We’re very proud of this great show and are thrilled season one of the series has been picked up for national distribution in April by American Public Television (APT). Be sure to tune in or set your DVR for Songs at The Center, Saturday night at 11pm.
January 14, 2016 • New Season, New Time Slot and National Syndication for Songs at the Center
2016 has arrived, and Songs at the Center, the locally produced TV series that showcases songwriters, has earned national distribution. American Public Television (APT), the second-largest distributor of public television programming, is offering Season One of the series to public television stations nationwide.
SONGS AT THE CENTER
January 12, 2016 • Show to reach beyond central Ohio’s borders
Worthington’s most high-profile music show is reaching new heights in 2016, as Songs at the Center goes national.
The music performance show, hosted at Worthington’s Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center, has earned national distribution by American Public Television starting this year.
“I’m proud of our city and proud of all the people who worked together to make this happen,” host and co-creator Eric Gnezda said. “My hope from the very beginning has been that it was a collaborative effort among people, and it has been.” Read more >
Oct. 15, 2015 • Songs at the Center Returns
Since premiering their first season this past January, Worthington native Eric Gnezda and the team behind Songs at the Center (SATC) could not be more pleased with the local music show’s rave reviews. Each show, which features three or four singer-songwriters performing in the round and sharing the stage with the audience, is taped and then broadcast on WOSU-TV.
“I’m so proud of the fact that we have been instrumental in cultivating an audience that appreciates this kind of music,” said Gnezda, who got his inspiration for the show from many years on the road as a speaker and singer-songwriter. Read more >
May 13, 2015 • Songs at the Center…at the Columbus Arts Festival!
By Eric Gnezda
I’d like to invite you to be a part of a Festival first.
Songs at the Center, central Ohio’s new television show featuring top-tier songwriters, will be shooting a prime-time summer special from the Columbus Arts Festival, Sunday, June 14, at the Acoustic Lounge, in the courtyard of the Cultural Arts Center.
The one-hour special is scheduled to premiere on WOSU TV in July.
As co-creator and host of the program, I am especially excited about this opportunity for music lovers and artists alike. The concept for Songs at the Center emerged from my many years on the road as a keynote speaker and performing singer-songwriter who played both clubs and conventions. I realized that, in the singer-songwriter genre, there is an “agreement” between artists and audience. Artists spill their hearts, while the audience listens and, when earned, responds with earnest appreciation.
By putting the audience onstage with the performers, Songs at the Center showcases more than just the artists—but the dynamic between artist and audience. Read more >
Jan. 31, 2015 • Laid-back show ‘Songs at the Center’ showcases musicians
A pin-drop-quiet crowd surrounded Mark Brinkman as the Pickerington singer-guitarist strummed his “Grandpa’s Way of Life,” an ode to much simpler times.
For a moment, the intimate acoustic setting seemed just as simple.
That is, until a stage director tapped his clapboard between Brinkman tunes, a camera crew shifted vantage points and the otherwise-engaged audience members (who had signed film waivers) were asked to boost their applause for a few taped cutaways.
Such activity marked a recent session of Songs at the Center, a live-music program that made its debut this month on WOSU-TV (Channel 34) as an outlet for showcasing central Ohio singer-songwriters and other people with artistic ties to the area. Read more >
Jan. 8, 2015 • ‘Songs at the Center’ premieres on WOSU TV
Host Eric Gnezda visits All Sides with Ann Fisher to discuss the premiere of Songs at the Center. Other guests are singer-songwriters Andy Shaw and Happy Chichester. (Click video below, or here to watch in new tab/window.)
Jan 8, 2015 • Check out Songs at the Center
By Stacia Hentz, WOSU TV Program Director
WOSU TV is very proud to present SONGS AT THE CENTER airing Sunday mornings at 12:30am following AUSTIN CITY LIMITS. Each week SONGS AT THE CENTER will feature the finest singer-songwriters in the region and nation performing “in the round” in front of a live audience at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington. The program will highlight three to four artists per episode, including Artist interviews and short features on the Columbus songwriting scene.
We were very excited when Co-creators Eric Gnezda, Andy Herron and Alan Beavers asked us to take a look at the program. It was an easy decision, SONGS AT THE CENTER is an all around home run! The program is hosted by Eric Gnezda, an award-winning songwriter, Emmy-nominated journalist, and regular performer at Nashville’s Bluebird Café, who keeps things lively and entertaining. Read More >
Jan 5, 2015 • Upcoming Programming: Songs at the Center
Songs at the Center is a late-night, local music show on WOSU TV. The program features a small group of singer-songwriters performing “in the round,” sharing the stage with an audience.
Watch Songs at the Center at 12:30am Sundays on WOSU TV following Austin City Limits.
This weekly, half-hour show spotlights the finest artists in the region and nation. Taped at the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington, Ohio it will also include artist interviews and short features on the area’s songwriting scene.
Songs at the Center is co-created and hosted by Eric Gnezda, a Columbus-based songwriter, journalist, and regular performer at Nashville’s Bluebird Café. “The singer-songwriter genre requires an engaged audience,” Gnezda says. “By putting the audience onstage with the performers, we’re inviting our viewers to be part of the unique intimacy that is shared between songwriters and listeners.” Read More >
Nov. 26, 2014 • MAC to host WOSU’s Songs at the Center
Performed and produced at Worthington’s McConnell Arts Center, the show features singer-songwriters performing “in-the-round” onstage, with award-winning artist Eric Gnezda as the host.
Gnezda, a Worthington resident, said he is thrilled the show has been picked up by WOSU, which has committed to 26 weeks, beginning with the premiere at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 9. After that, it will run at 12:30 a.m. each Sunday, immediately following the popular Austin City Limits. Read More >
Nov. 17, 2014 • Songs at the Center
Thanks to the MAC, Natalie’s and several singer-songwriters who call this home, Worthington is quickly evolving as a songwriting center.
Worthington has long been known as a community with a rich history, unique shopping, great restaurants and a wide range of family-friendly events that take place throughout the year. More recently, however, it seems that Worthington residents have something entirely new to add to their hometown resume. The city is rapidly emerging as a songwriting center, thanks in part to the addition of popular venues like the Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center of Worthington (MAC) and Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza & Live Music. These venues not only know how to present music, but they are bringing artists and audiences together in a way that has never been done before in this town.
Songs at the Center is Born
Award-winning songwriter, Emmy-nominated journalist and Worthington native Eric Gnezda is a driving force behind this movement. Along with his business partners, Andy Herron and Alan Beavers, he co-founded and co-produced Songs at the Center, a weekly series of singer-songwriter performances that take place at the MAC. Read More >