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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Songwriter and Pittsburg native co-writes, produces singer's album

  • In his much younger days, Pittsburg native Barry Dean first pursued a songwriting career, then backed away from it, then went back to it when he realized that denying music was denying a big part of who he was.

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  • In his much younger days, Pittsburg native Barry Dean first pursued a songwriting career, then backed away from it, then went back to it when he realized that denying music was denying a big part of who he was.
    It’s not likely he’ll ever do that again.
    Dean, son of Harvey and Sharon Dean, Pittsburg, is now a staff writer at Universal Music Publishing Group, and recently completed a major project. He produced “Lorraine,” an album by Boston folksinger Lori McKenna, and also co-wrote four of the songs on the album.
    In a telephone interview from Nashville, where he and his family now live, Dean said that he deferred when McKenna first suggested that he produce her new album.
    “Lori is kind of my songwriting sister,” he said. “She had heard some of my stuff and I’d heard some of her stuff. Now we’re a good team of writers. A song we wrote together has been recorded by LeAnn Rimes.”
    But when McKenna suggested that Dean produce her sixth album, he deferred.
    It wasn’t that he lacked experience. Years earlier, Dean had produced an album for himself, and had produced numerous demos.
    “I spend about a third of my time in the studio,” he said. “I’m either in a writing room or a studio.”
    He worked with McKenna in the studio as she recorded the tracks for the album.
    “Then she pointed out that we’d already done a big part of the album,” Dean said. “I guess she had decided that I was going to be the one to produce it.”
    “Lorraine” is an intensely album for McKenna. Her first name is actually Lorraine, after her mother, who died when she was only 7.
    The singer/songwriter considers the influence her mother had on her life, while pondering her own place in relationship to her husband Gene, their five children and the community where she lives.
    The album was released last week, and samples can be downloaded from amazon.com. CDs are available.
    “I’d like for it to come out on vinyl, but I don’t think I’ll win that fight,” Dean said. “Some rock bands are doing vinyl records again. It’s so much fun, but it is expensive.”
    His songs have been recorded by numerous artists. Once he began seriously marketing his work, he was told by a professional in the field that he couldn’t expect to have a song recorded by an artist for at least two or three years. Instead, it happened in about a month, when Martina McBride picked up his song, “God’s Will,” for her album “Martina” in September 2003. And two months later, in November 2003, Reba McEntire chose his “Moving Oleta” for her album “Room to Breathe.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Other artists recording his work include Carrie Underwood, Alison Krauss and Union station, Julianne Hough, Kellie Pickler, chuck Wicks, Laura Bell Bundy, Ricky Skaggs, Katherine McPhee, Charlotte Church and Earl Scruggs.
    Dean frequently speaks at song camps to aspiring song writers, as well as at Vanderbilt and Belmont University classes. It is very important to him to provide encouragement and practical tips to beginning artists.
    As a teen, he attended St. Mary’s Colgan High School, and counts the late Robert Tindel and the late Fr. Kenneth Melarango among those who encouraged and guided him, along with the late Charles Hensley and the late Professor Robert Schott, whose daughter, Jennifer Schott, is also pursuing a songwriting career in Nashville.
    For years he tried to live in Pittsburg, but make routine trips to Nashville. Finally he and his very supportive wife, Jennifer, decided that they might as well just move to the music center. Their family includes four children.
    “I have a nation,” Dean said. “My oldest son, Alex, is a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, and my daughter Katherine is now 10. Once we got to Nashville we added two more boys, Gabriel, 3 1/2, and Graham, 2.”
    Family remains his main consideration.
    “I’m a husband and a dad, and I write songs,” Dean said. “I’d be no good as a songwriter if I wasn’t doing my job as a husband and dad.”
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