Harrisonburg Native to Lead Songwriting Workshop

J.D. Martin (aka Jerry Derstine)
J.D. Martin (aka Jerry Derstine)

Harrisonburg native J.D. Martin (aka Jerry Derstine) will lead a songwriting workshop 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, in Recital Hall on ground floor of Lehman Auditorium at Eastern Mennonite University.

Martin, an award-winning composer of five Number One and 10 Top Ten singles on the pop and country music charts, will discuss his approach to writing music and answer audience questions.

Following college graduation, Martin joined a band called Tanglefoot, based in Aspen, Colo. They toured for seven years, opening for artists such as Kenny Rogers. He honed his songwriting skills with this band, then moved to Nashville in 1980, determined to break into the music business.

By 1994, Martin had established himself as one of Nashville’s top songwriters. As a staff writer with MCA Music and later with Warner/Chappell Music, he co-wrote such hits as "Love Will Find It’s Way To You" by Reba McEntire; "Nobody But You" and "Just As Long As I Have You," both performed by Don Williams; "Everyday" by the Oak Ridge Boys; "I’ll Never Stop Loving You" and "Between Two Fires" by Gary Morris; and "You and Only You" by John Berry.

However, like the seekers he often portrays in his songs, Martin wanted to experience new worlds. In 1994, he moved to Los Angeles, where he found a home in the world of pop music as well. Kathy Tracolli and Clay Cross recorded his duet, "One Heart," and Peter Cetera released "One Clear Voice," a Top Ten Adult Contemporary single. Martin continued writing for country artists as well, and in July of 1998 Terri Clark’s version of "Now That I Found You" reached #1.

He also wrote two songs often sung in the Mennonite Church – "Unity" (Jesus help us live in peace) and "Jesus, Rock of Ages."

Whatever style of music Martin chooses, his songs have one unifying trait. "I’m attracted to writing about themes of the heart," he says. "Not only about love, but also of following dreams and going through the dark times." He and his wife, singer/songwriter and teacher Jan Garrett, now live and create their music in the mountains of Colorado.

Admission to the workshop is free.