The state’s music history, talents and venues are being celebrated this week as a part of Tennessee’s Songwriter Week.
One of the talents that came from the Upper Cumberland Region is country artist Jake Hoot. The Tennessee Tech alumni lived in Cookeville for 12 years and was the 2019 winner of the The Voice.
Hoot said while pursing his music career, he quickly found out about the talents of the Upper Cumberland.
“I think a lot of times the Upper Cumberland gets overlooked, because it is so close to Nashville, and there is not as many songs and big hits coming out of there,” Hoot said. “There are so many incredible writers, and over the years, I definitely got to write with some great ones out there. I would say even since I lived in the Upper Cumberland, the music scene just exploded. I feel like between Spankies, Seven Senses, Red Silo, 37 Cedar, all the wineries that you have out there. Everybody just really put their best foot forward with live music.”
Hoot said he wrote his first song while in school at Tennessee Tech. At the time, he took inspiration from a past girlfriend and his occupation as a janitor. Hoot said his love of songwriting continued from that point on.
“For me, songwriting has always been almost like a therapy for me to get things out,” Hoot said. “The beauty of music is you can make people feel what you are feeling through the song. I love being able to write a song and people coming back and going, ‘Oh my goodness, that song made me think of when I took my wife to prom back in the 60’s or that song made me go pick up my grand baby and hold them tighter. That song made me think of my grandparents who passed away a long time ago and were married for 60 years.’ F0r me, that is the beauty of songwriting.”
Hoot said for him, the song writing process is ever changing. Sometimes it starts with just an idea and a guitar. Other times, ideas come while driving alone in his truck, but Hoot said one thing doesn’t change. The purpose of delivering a message to listeners.
“I’ll get inspired, and I’ll write,” Hoot said. “I’ll put a note in my phone for later, or I’ll sing something in my phone like a melody. So when I sit down to write if I am by myself, I will have a catalog of melodies and lyrics and hooks. You sit there, and you try. For me what my process is I go, ‘Okay. What’s the message I am trying to portray in this song? Once I get the message, who I am I talking to? What’s the story line behind it?’ I am a big story guy, and so, once you get those two it is just like okay how can I make this song different?”
Hoot said his favorite songs have came from two life changing events. The first being the birth of his daughter. The second came after a tornado that hit Cookeville last year.
Hoot said for any aspiring writers, keep doing what you are doing and stay true to your style.