We had the good fortune of connecting with Bill DiLuigi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bill, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
To swerve is always scary. You might hit a wall or you might discover something awesome and néw . There’s an old saying that if you do what you always done , you’ll get what you’ve always got . That’s fine if your banging in the doors of success but if you’re not, then maybe it’s time to swerve a little . I started out on a much narrower path. I wanted to be a rock star guitar player in a band I was in in the Northeast . It allowed me to write songs for the band as well . For years I had tunnel vision ; write, tour , go after the big record deal . The deal never came . The band broke up . Then there I was thinking what’s next ? As Divine intervention would have it, it seemed everywhere I turned people were talking about Nashville . I had envisioned living in New York or LA with the band prior to this . Nashville ? I wasn’t even a fan of Country music . Isn’t all the food fried ? My first risk was to enter a song contest out on by the Phila NARAS chapter . I wrote a bluegrass song of all things . It’s like God proved his sense of humor by making me a finalist! I started gathering information for trips to Nashville at the judging event. Around the same time I had joined some songwriting organizations to try to improve my craft. I also met Jim Femino. He had much success with Toby Keith and others . In time he said he thought I was good enough to make the move to Nashville . Did I really want to write songs for others to sing instead of myself? Could I compete ? The move was my second huge risk . I opened myself up to the music community here and was able to improve my guitar , singing and production skills by learning to play well with others . I started to see a better goal ; to be a fully rounded world class musician as opposed to a Rock star . I began to write Country, CCM, and blues. I stepped out of my box .I’m happy to say that artists in all those genres have recorded my songs , so it paid off . I’ve been blessed with a couple of publishing deals . The risk taking continued. At one point I saw how lucrative film and tv music was . I dedicated years to learning how that is done . It was a huge time investment but now I can say I’ve had hundreds of songs placed in everything from Good Morning America to the Tonight Show. Everyone likes to write with the successful stars. I’ve been blessed to write with Maddie and Tae, Chris Young and others . However I’ve had to take risks and write with new people who basically had nothing going on but grew into successful careers . Some of my producer friends groan and say “I passed on Taylor Swift , just wasn’t feeling it “. I feel incredibly fortunate to wake up and do what I love for a living . Has it been hard ? Of course ! Growing pains hurt worse when you’re already grown ! Would I do it again ? Yes I would . If I had stayed where I was I’d have been safely miserable .
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I actually get paid to make stuff up ! As a kid I got yelled at for that ! If I’m co-writing with an artist I want to know all about them and help them find they’re more unique voice in the sea of voices . I also want to make the listener feel , cry , laugh or shake it . It has to come from a real place . I want everyone to see themselves in a song. One of my high points was getting to write with Hank Williams Sr’s Granddaughter, Hilary . I threw out a possible line in the song and she said “I like that . That’s something my Grandaddy woulda said.” That made my day ! It’s always a thrill to hear my songs in TV Shows and movies . I get to work with great bands like multi platinum Blessid Union of Souls and just had a song recorded by the original Urban Cowboy , Johnny Lee .
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well post and pre Covid I’d say : Go down to WSM and watch a broadcast . It’s the home of the Opry and an airwave encyclopedia of Country music . Go to the Bluebird Cafe , the Holy of Holies for songwriters . I’d drive you around Music Row to the where Roy wrote Pretty Woman and where Waylon flushed his stash . Eat tacos and people watch in 12 th South, a dirt of Hillbilly East Villlage . Drive down the Natchez Trace through God’s Country.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to Jesus . author of Creativity and joy . Jim Femino and Jeff Pearson for taking a chance on writing with and mentoring me . Melissa Bollea for believing in me enough to sign my first publishing deal. Kirsti Manna for believing in me enough to sign my second publishing deal. All the world class dreamers who never want to wake up .