SUE C. SMITH: Courage and Persistence in Songwriting

“This isn’t about what I want to say or what I think, the song has to be about what people want to hear”

In Episode 74, John Chisum sits down with veteran songwriter, Sue C. Smith. Sue has written 15 #1 songs, including “Mourning Into Dancing” (The Bowlings) in March 2017, and “I Choose Christ” (Karen Peck and New River) in July 2017.  In 2017 she was named Absolutely Gospel Music Songwriter of the Year. She is deeply involved in writing music for the church and for church choirs, having written over 80 musicals which are presented in churches around the world.

“As a songwriter, you have to have the courage to persist with an idea until you find the person that God wants you to write it with.”

Sue is a five-time Dove award winning songwriter who has had cuts by Avalon, Jason Crabb, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Crabb Family, Sandi Patty, Guy Penrod, Travis Cottrell, Mark Harris, Larnelle Harris, Steve Green, Janet Paschal, Pure NRG, Triumphant Quartet, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Brian Free and Assurance, The Hoppers, and many others. Sue shares her insight into the process of songwriting and gives practical tips that will help you become the songwriter you were always meant to be.

“If we’re going to worship God for all of eternity, we’re going to be writing new songs to sing, so there will be new things to say and new ways to say it.”

She and her husband John founded The Write About Jesus Workshop in 2000 and have hosted it each year since then. The workshop has been the launch pad for the songwriting of dozens of fresh voices in Christian music. Write About Jesus is also actively engaged in encouraging and training songwriters around the world, and Sue has made visits to Myanmar, India and Uganda in that effort.

To find out more about Sue, visit and

Also, here’s a link to the Youtube Video that John mentions in the episode of a song written at the “Write About Jesus” Conference by two 12 year old boys –

Some topics we talk about in this episode:

  • Introduction // Sue C. Smith – 2:10
  • Sue’s Journey Into Songwriting – 10:08
  • 15 Number One Songs and 93 Musicals – 18:22
  • The Challenge of Writing a “New” Idea – 22:24
  • The Vulnerability and Benefits of Co-Writing – 25:02
  • Bettering Your Craft As a Songwriter – 32:15
  • Utilizing the Power of Language in Your Songwriting – 43:15
  • How Sue Approaches the Process of Songwriting – 51:22
  • Wrap Up – 61:15

How to get involved

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John Chisum

John Chisum is a pioneer in the Christian music business, serving alongside people such as Bill & Gloria Gaither, Twila Paris, Paul Baloche, Don Moen, and many more. As President of Nashville Christian Songwriters, John seeks to empower Christian songwriters worldwide to discover and fulfill their call to write.

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