Father and daughter looking forward to Millsaps Songwriter competition
Park City will have three musicians in the mix
This year’s Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase will have a Park City flair.
Three out of the 10 singer-songwriters, who are scheduled to compete at the showcase that will be part of the Utah Arts Festival on June 24, hail from the Wasatch Back.
Two are father and daughter Bill and Molly McGinnis. The third is Alicia Stockman.
While Stockman was vacationing down in Moab, the McGinnis’ talked to The Park Record last week — Bill in person and Molly via phone — about the competition and their father-daughter rivalry.
“Lucy Nakarato, who is organizing the competition, is so excited that there is a father and daughter who are in the competition,” Bill said. “From the standpoint of shtick, the audience will probably eat it up.”
From a father’s perspective, Bill couldn’t be more proud of competing against his daughter.
“If Molly kicks my butt, I win,” he said. “If I kick her butt, I win. So there.”
Molly, on the other hand, is taking a more lackadaisical approach to the event.
“I’ll let my confidence carry me through, because I think that will be the best approach,” she said. “With my dad in the mix, I don’t feel like I have any less chance of winning.”
Upon hearing those words through the speaker phone, Bill sat up and said, “OK. Game on.”
The other competitors in the showcase hail from across the United States and Salt Lake City. They are Bob Cantonwine, Jane Fallon, Jen Hajj, Dave McCormick, Rex Seabury, Alicia Stockman, Kray Van Kirk and Eric Wagner.
“It’s exciting because when I look at the list of finals, I see people who have been in the competition in the past,” Bill said. “Kray Van Kirk from Alaska has been in it for the past few years. Jane Fallon from Boston is coming in. Bob Cantonwine form Salt Lake, and Jen Hajj and I have competed in Millsaps before.”
Molly, who is competing in the showcase for the first time, said she is grateful to be able to share the experience with her dad.
“It feels great just to enter and have this thing in common,” she said. “I had a feeling it was going to happen, but I honestly thought it would be pretty funny to compete with my dad and a bunch of other great musicians. I think it’s going to be a good time and I want to kick my dad’s butt.”
Molly’s earliest memories of playing music clocks in around 15 years ago.
“I think I was four or five,” she said. “ I was pretty little back then.”
Bill remembers his daughter reaching for the strings every time he brought out his guitar.
“I actually couldn’t play at home because she would grab the strings,” he said. “So, I bought her a cheap guitar at Olvera Street in Los Angeles, and she started banging on her own strings.”
Molly took to the guitar immediately.
“I’ve always liked all kinds of art forms, and when I pick something up and it resonates with me, I just go for it,” she said.
The father and daughter have some ideas of what songs they will play during the showcase.
“I will play the songs I entered with,” Bill said. “You’re not required to do that, but both of the songs fit the mood really well.”
Molly, on the other hand, is taking a more Zen approach to her selections.
“I haven’t decided which songs I’m going to play,” she said. “I may play the ones that I entered, but you never know. I may write a better song the day before the competition and decide to play that one.”
As with their methods of selecting songs to play, the McGinnises approach songwriting differently.
“I don’t really have a choice as to what I write about,” Molly said. “I’m constantly observing things and processing things. Then something will come to me. It’s like feeling like I’m going to throw up, but instead of going to the bathroom, I reach for my guitar.”
Bill said his creative process is “hard labor.”
“I’ll sit down and get a hook and piece and then write a chorus or a verse,” he said. “I have to push hard to get anything out.”
Bill said the effort it takes to create music is something he enjoys.
“You have to really think about what you’re saying when you write a song,” he said. “You rewrite and rewrite until you have this near perfect thing you want to say. Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful in this world if everyone really thought about what they are saying?”
Bill said he is proud of being able to see Molly grow as a songwriter, especially during these past few weeks as they prepare for the showcase.
“It used to be that Molly was known as my daughter,” he said. “Now, she’s getting top billing and I’m known as her dad. It’s a thrill to see her come to this place. So, what more could a father want than to be right up there with her.”
The Millsaps Singer Songwriter Showcase will be at noon, Saturday, June 24, at Big Mouth Stage at the Utah Arts Festival at Library Square. For information, visit http://www.iamaweb.org/wp/2017-susanne-millsaps-contest.
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