If you have ever watched the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan takes wild, unruly dogs and tames them and sometimes their families, so in the end, you have a happy dog and a happy pet owner. Just like Mr. Millan, Ben Travis can take a wild and unruly song that is not an easy listen and turn it into something enjoyable; additionally, he gives the writer confidence, friendship, and a product of which they can be proud.
For a very long time, I had written songs. I would sit at my keyboard as a child and pound out melodies when I was bored, lonely, and/or upset. Like most childhood interests and dreams, they disappeared. I began to be "realistic" and went to college, got a respectable job, got married twice, had two children, and I settled into the normal suburban American lifestyle. I never entertained the notion of becoming a songwriter, but then my suburban lifestyle was slowly stripped away by a series of events. All I had were fragments of my former life, and I fell back on my old childhood comfort strategy which was writing songs to help me through my loneliness and depression.
I sat in my bedroom strumming a cheap fifty dollar guitar, finding chords I liked, and singing to them. Before I knew it, I had songs that encapsulated philosophies, feelings, and thoughts I had due to what I had experienced in those difficult times. When I was nearing the end of grieving my former life, I realized the beauty of even the ugly moments and wanted to share them with anyone that would listen. I went to my bathroom and made YouTube and Facebook videos. I posted to songwriting groups and sent them to friends. To my surprise, even though I am not an expert guitarist or singer, I had mostly positive feedback and was even contacted by a few producers, but I still did not think I was good enough to make an album or release any music until I was contacted by Ben Travis.
Ben had come across a song I wrote called "Your Future Ex-Wife" and asked if I had other originals. He really took the time to research me further and told me about his own song writing projects and his new studio. My boyfriend ,Dustin, and I listened to his work, and Dustin convinced me to go for it. That spring, my oldest son, Will, and I packed our bags and headed to Nashville.
When you are a girl with no confidence, the first time you meet a producer can be intimidating, but he and his family all greeted me at the door with such kindness, warmth, and humor that I immediately felt comfortable being around them. He and his wife really care about songwriters and know what their songs mean to them. They are nurturing people that are fun to be around, and Ben is just a man passionate about his job, creating music, and helping songwriters.
When you are an artist of any sort, you love your work because it is a piece of your soul you are sharing. I loved my songs before meeting Ben, but I had no clue how much more I could love them. We recorded what I had planned, and I thought we were done. Surprisingly, he started throwing in piano and organ in places, subtle things like shakers, and unique things like whistles. When I heard the rough finished version of my first song, "Saint Louis Bay", I had a smile I could not erase and tears of happiness in my eyes. He made me love what I already knew I loved even more. It was then that I realized he has musical ESP. He knows what you want before you even know it. As Ben is sending me each song for my album, I just get more and more awestruck by his talent. I pinch myself every day because I cannot believe it is real that he chose to work with me.
If Cesar Millan is considered the "Dog Whisperer", I am considering Ben the "Song Whisperer". He transformed my ugly duckling songs into beautiful swan songs which have given me confidence as an artist. Any musician that gets the opportunity to work with Ben should consider themselves lucky because not only is he passionate about your music, he believes in the artists with which he works, and you will have his friendship for life.