‘Austin City Limits’ to Lyle Lovett: Texas songwriter Connie Mims on the biz

Texan Connie Mims discusses the music business, digital networking, and her star-studded songwriting career. Photo: Bob Burton & Michael Hart

HOUSTON - April 13, 2012 - Among female musicians in the American south, the name of Connie Mims is legendary. She is to Texas songwriting women what G.I. Joe is to men and boys of all ages. Mims’ reputation precedes her wherever she goes. She gathers little posses of songwriters around her, organizing workshops, co-writing, and playing the roll of benevolent career consultant to a motherly T.

Mims launched her career in Houston in 1973 with a little band called Wheatfield, which eventually evolved and became known as St. Elmo’s Fire. She performed with Wheatfield on the first season of famed PBS series, “Austin City Limits.”

Though Mims didn’t know it at the time, that episode was watched by a young and very inspired Lyle Lovett from his home in Klein, Texas. In fact, Lovett mentions Wheatfield in the forward he penned for the documentary book, ‘Austin City Limits: 25 Years of American Music.’ In fact, Mims said in her recent SeeTalkGrow interview, “Lyle’s been a really good friend.”

Later, Mims journeyed to Nashville (i.e., Songwriter Mecca) to pursue a career in songwriting, a vocation she now enjoys full time from her home in The Woodlands, just north of Houston.

Today, Mims is the founder and workshop coordinator for the Houston Chapter of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). She has also served on the Board for the Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy (GRAMMY). So, as you can imagine, this woman has clout.

Just looking at Mims - with her prim Texan style, youthful complexion, and smiling blue eyes - you’d never guess she was a time-tried, music industry veteran. She’s not one of those super aggressive businesswomen who exudes feminist angst and makes full grown businessmen quake in their leather loafers. Nor is she the road-worn diva whose weathered face tells tales of countless cross country tours, late nights with the band at bars, too many cigarettes, and a lingering bitterness at the materialism of it all. Contrariwise, Mims is a friendly, gentle, and unassuming lady, with an extra helping of Southern charm and a whopping twin dollop of business savvy and fun-loving spunk.

Mims spoke to us of her love for counseling young female singer-songwriters in an industry predominantly controlled by men. As testament to that love, this past February when SeeTalkGrow was only a concept in a beat up Mead notebook, Mims acted as a consultant and confidant to entrepreneur and founder, Jennifer Grassman. Mims also enlisted as SeeTalkGrow’s debut Guiana pig, being booked as Grassman’s first guest for a live online songwriting workshop.

“I’ve been doing this for so long that I’m fortunate to be able to look back,” Mims explained, “and say to a twenty-something young women and songwriter who is just starting out … ‘Well here’s what you don’t want to do,’ or, ‘Maybe you want to do this,’ or ‘I would suggest doing that.’”

Texas songwriter Connie Mims.

One of Mims’ big tips for songwriters is to plug into your home community. While many music industry pros, aspiring songwriters, and guitar-toting singers opt to move to Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York to establish their career, Mims dissuades young hopefuls from taking that route. Nowadays, she reasons, with everyone in the entire industry a simple Facebook message, Tweet, or email away, the efficaciousness of moving to a “music city” in order to get heard by the big cats is questionable.

Mims demonstrated the increasing accessibility of music industry professionals with a friendly invitation to SeeTalkGrow’s live audience. “I’m very approachable … You can Facebook me or email me and ask me questions. I’m real big on helping young women, because it does tend to be a very male dominated industry, both in the Texas music charts and in the Billboard Magazine type of thing … I think it’s real important for women to support other women. We all benefit from that.”

Despite having traveled the US and seen nearly every music city there is to see, Mims remains faithful and ardent regarding the importance of an artist’s involvement in their native community. For her own part, Mims sings the praises of her home city of Houston.

“The thing I love about Houston is especially the songwriting community,” she said. “There’s always been a wonderful connection between the people that are in songwriting (or in various aspects of the music business) here in Houston. We all support each other. It’s really a very small community for such a large metropolitan city, but it’s a wonderful community.

“I always just tell people to plug in! … Plug into your community and you can find individuals and organizations to help bolster what you are looking for in your career.”

Mims’ grassroots, pro-artist methodology makes her a wonderful consultant for any aspiring artist, and to the SeeTalkGrow team as well. Watch Mims’ full conversation with SeeTalkGrow’s founder, Jennifer Grassman by clicking on the video below.

 

Connie Mims’ Links:
Official Site
Facebook

About Jennifer Grassman:

Singer, songwriter and pianist, Jennifer Grassman is an award-winning recording artist and founder of SeeTalkGrow, a 100% online music, film, technology, and communications conference. Subscribe by RSS feed and read more at www.JenniferGrassman.com or www.SeeTalkGrow.com. Follow Jennifer in this column and at her music column, The Business of Being Diva here in Washington Times Communities. Also keep in touch via @JGrassman@SeeTalkGrow, and likeFacebook.com/JenniferGrassmanMusic and Facebook.com/SeeTalkGrow.


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Jennifer Grassman

Jennifer Grassman is a singer, songstress and pianist who inadvertently became a music industry trailblazer in the wake of the digital revolution. In addition to penning her quirky music industry column, "The Business of Being Diva," Jennifer writes songs and performs concert tours. Jennifer’s accomplishments include being nominated Houston’s best female vocalist and best songwriter and was named best keyboardist in the 2010 Houston Press Music Awards. She assisted in a campaign that raised more than $100,000 for CrimeStoppers and was commended by musician Tori Amos for her charitable efforts on behalf of domestic-abuse victims.  Jennifer has released three CDs, the most recent of which, "Serpent Tales & Nightingales," received accolades from Christianity Today, the Houston Chronicle and Brian Ray and the guitarist of Paul McCartney's band. You can check out Jennifer’s music at www.JenniferGrassman.com, like her on Facebook and tweet her at www.Twitter.com/JGrassman.

Contact Jennifer Grassman

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