In 2017, Sharon began writing lyrics with Brooke Hatala, a 16-year-old artist from Sharon's town of Cary, NC. Brooke will graduate from Belmont University in 2023 and has been managed by Red Light Management of Nashville. In July of 2017, she opened for legend Willie Nelson at a summer concert. Brooke and Sharon have written seven songs together so far. The songs that Sharon co-wrote with Brooke and producer Billy Smiley are Just Hold Me (scroll down the playlist in the link),  Stars (audio only is to the left) & What Would I Say? (link to Youtube of May/2022 release). Sharon also co-wrote a very special song with Brooke called More Than This  (link is Brooke performing the song at a Teen Mental Health Conference in 2018 in Chapel Hill, NC and audio only is to the left). The song addresses the issue of teen anxiety & depression and some of the pressures that teens are under -- and makes the point that teens are more than just their GPA or their athletic accomplishments: they are more than this. An audio of a produced version of the song is on the left. A fun, story song they wrote together is called Different from the Rest and is about a girl thinking that a guy was going to be different from the rest, only to find out he wasn't (YouTube on the left). Sharon and Brooke are currently working on several other songs together. 

Brooke Hatala

More Than This sung by Brooke Hatala with Brennan SmileyBrooke Hatala
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Stars Brooke Hatala
00:00 / 04:47

Brooke was asked by ASCAP to perform at the iconic Bluebird Cafe in Nashville in December of 2017. She performed five songs, including an acoustic version of "Stars", one of the songs which Sharon co-wrote. Sharon was with Brooke and her mom at the Bluebird and was incredibly honored to have Brooke sing one of the songs they wrote together. An amazing experience. 

 Brooke singing at the Bluebird Cafe

Brooke sometimes records at Dark Horse Studios outside of Nashville, and Sharon loved visiting there with her and producer Billy Smiley and meeting some of the fabulous artists who record there. 

Also in 2017, Sharon worked with Chad Lister of Osceola Studios in Raleigh (along with owner Dick Hodgin) on two demo songs. She wrote the lyrics and discussed the music in great detail with Chad, and he and Dick produced the two songs:  an upbeat country song called "It's the Inside that Counts" and a heartfelt slow song about a relationship that is coming to an end called "How Does it Go?"  Both of these songs are available for established artists to record. Sharon also would welcome the opportunity to work with other songwriters on either of these songs (revisions to lyrics and/or melody) to further collaborate on them. Since these demos were recorded, I've revised the first verse of each of them. 

 

"It's the Inside that Counts" (copyrighted) is on the top track on the right. 

"It's the Inside that Counts" was selected by WQDR radio station, 94.7, in Raleigh, NC as a featured song on its Carolina Homegrown Series in August of 2017. Since Chad Lister was the singer, I arranged the interview with him, and that interview and the song are on the bottom track on the right. 

"How Does It Go?" (copyrighted) is the third track. Also performed by Chad. 

It's the Inside that Counts - Chad Lister, co-written by Sharon O'Donnell
00:00 / 00:00

Copyright, 2017

WQDR feature of It's the Inside that Counts - Chad Lister/ writer Sharon O'Donnell
00:00 / 00:00
How Does It Go? - Chad Lister, co-written by Sharon O'Donnell & Chad Lister
00:00 / 00:00

Some other lyrics that have done well in Nashville Songwriters Association critiques

 

Home Movies

 

Flickerin’ images appear, 8 millimeter film

Watching my grandpa’s home movies when the lights are dim,

Faces of the past appear before me

even though there isn’t any sound

From a time when I wasn’t yet around.

Grandma shellin’ peas on the front porch,

kids wrestling on the floor

Baby’s first steps and that New Year’s Eve it snowed

Visions from a long, long time ago

 

Extraordinary moments they thought were just routine.

Captured forever up there on the screen.

Moments turned to memories

Making the magic last

People and places of times gone past

Extraordinary moments they thought were just routine.

Captured forever up there on the screen.

 

A birthday party when my mother turned sixteen,

Blowing out the candles when she didn’t know me yet

Those flickering images up there on the screen.

Mama picking up seashells on the beach with me

Daddy in his favorite chair, my brother on his knee

Uncle Joe and Aunt Aileen slow dancing like a couple should

Their marriage didn’t last but they still had some times that were good

 

Extraordinary moments they thought were just routine.

Captured forever up there on the screen.

Moments turned to memories

Making the magic last

People and places of times gone past

Extraordinary moments they thought were just routine.

Captured forever up there on the screen.

Bridge:

The pictures go by too fast,

I wish that they could stay,

One scene goes to another

And then they fade away

 

Extraordinary moments they thought were (just) routine.

captured forever up there on the screen. 

 

Elevator Ride

               

Sittin’ in the lawyers’ office, just signed the papers today

Lookin’ ‘cross the table, wonderin’ how we ended up this way

Stepping on the elevator, just the two of us.

Staring straight ahead, nothing left to discuss.

At the top of a high rise, watching the numbers go by floor by floor

Empty feeling inside because we were no more

 

In the ups and down of life

we were side by side

In the ups and downs of life

God knows how we tried

In the ups and downs

In the ups and downs

Yeah, God knows how we tried

But we’re so far apart

even though we’re side by side

on this elevator ride.

 

Then I felt your hand reach out for mine,

I grabbed onto it, and our fingers were entwined.

Staring at the numbers pass by, remembering all those years.

Squeezing each other’s hands as our eyes filled with tears.

Halfway down we stopped to let some people on

Wiped our eyes, composed ourselves, but the pain still wasn’t gone.

 

In the ups and down of life

we were side by side

In the ups and downs of life

God knows how we tried

In the ups and downs

In the ups and downs

Yeah, God knows how we tried.

But we’re so far apart even though we’re side by side

on this elevator ride.

 

Bridge:

Tryin’ hard to hold emotion in

Hurt so bad to think about all that we had been

 

In the ups and down of life

we were side by side

In the ups and downs of life

God knows how we tried

In the ups and downs

In the ups and downs

Yeah, God knows how we tried

 

Held hands until we reached the ground

Walked off our separate ways with tears still in our eyes.

I’ll never forget the love we had that died.

Or my last time with you on that

elevator ride.

Don’t You Hear Me?

 

Maybe I was a little naïve

Maybe  it was dumb of me to believe

You when you said “Come over to my place.

Even though we just met the other night,

Come over to my place.

We’ll watch TV and cook out on the grill”

I should’ve known better I guess but still

 

Don’t  you hear me say no?

Don’t you hear me say “Please don’t”

Why the hell is my voice so weak?

I try to scream and I can’t,

Try so hard but I can barely speak

Disappearing into the sheets

Don’t you see that I’m shaking,

that’s the way that my fear shows

Don’t you hear me say no?

 

It started out so innocently

I wanted to get to know you more

Asked to see pictures of your family,

You led me to your bedroom and closed the door

But there were no pictures there

Suddenly you got rough with me,

And you were so much stronger than I ever thought you’d be

I could only repeat the same words

Over and over hoping that you finally heard

 

Don’t  you hear me say no?

Don’t you hear me say “Please don’t”

Why the hell is my voice so weak?

I try to scream and I can’t,

Try so hard but I can barely speak

Disappearing into the sheets

Don’t you see that I’m shaking,

that’s the way that my fear shows

Don’t you hear me say no?

 

Bridge:

Am I too naïve to ever be believed?

Am I to blame

 because I misjudged ya?

Should it be my shame

Because I trusted ya?

I don’t think so, I don’t think so.

 

Don’t  you hear me say no?

Don’t you hear me say “Please don’t”

Why the hell is my voice so weak?

I try to scream and I can’t,

Try so hard but I can barely speak

Disappearing into the sheets

Don’t you see that I’m shaking,

that’s the way that my fear shows

Don’t you hear me say no?

 

I finally find the strength to fight

Yelling at you that you have no right

I just wanna leave and go home.

But home feels like another world to me

When will this emptiness be gone?

 I just wanna leave and go home.

 

Don’t  you hear me say no?

Don’t you hear me say ‘Please don’t.”

 

Stonecutter

There sat the stonecutter hammering away, 

 Again and again, time after time

But there was no sign

he would break through

The stonecutter’s faith began to fall, 

No cracks in the stone at all.

 

Pre-chorus:

And I know that he wants to stop,

That he wants to scream

Cause that’s the way I feel out here,

(Tired of) chasing all my dreams

It’d be a relief to give up and quit

But I’d lose my soul slowly bit by bit

 

Chorus:
So I keep holding on
To my dream
Holding on,
forgetting all the broken dreams I’ve seen
Too many almosts, close, not quite
But now I see

Doesn’t matter how strong my grasp might be
Cause it’s my dream
that’s holding on to me

 

With his chisel and his hammer,

He kept pounding on that stone

He was tired and he was weary

And his strength was almost gone.

Then just as the stonecutter was about

To walk away,

 about to say no more,

At last the stone broke apart,

Broke from all the work he’d done before

 

Chorus:
So I keep holding on
To my dream
Holding on,
forgetting all the broken dreams I’ve seen

Too many almost,  close, not quite
But now I see
Doesn’t matter how strong my grasp might be
Cause it’s my dream
that’s holding on to me

 

Bridge:

Sometimes I wish my dream would leave me alone.

Release me from its clutches

and I’d move on

But Ya never know which time will be

the time you will break through

 

Chorus:
So I keep holding on
To my dream
Holding on,
forgetting all the broken dreams I’ve seen
Too many almosts, close, not quite
But now I see
Doesn’t matter how strong my grasp might be
Cause it’s my dream
that’s holding on to me

 

 

Even Though You Don’t Remember


Even though you don’t remember, son
I recall every detail of those years when you were young
Rocking you to sleep at night, all those lullabies (that) I sung
Your first steps and your first words
Sweetest voice I ever heard
The way it felt to hold your hand in mine,
Sunny days when I’d take you outside to play
How I couldn’t wait to hold you after I’d been away

Chorus:
Even though you don’t remember . . .
I do.
Even though those times have passed,
I still look back and think of you.
I know we must move on and turn the page,
But how I miss you when you were that age
The moments you don’t remember now
Were some of the best times of my life.


Even though you don’t remember, dad,
I think of all those times you picked me up and carried me to bed.
I remember all the good advice and all the things you said.
All the help with homework, shooting hoops out in the yard

How you’d come home tired after a day of working hard

Still made time to help me chase my dreams
It was long ago but yesterday it seems
How you stood beside me on my wedding day
But now when I look into your eyes,

you seem so far away

Even though you don’t remember . . .
I do.
Even though those times have passed,
I still look back and think of you.
I know we must move on and turn the page,
But how I miss you when you were that age
The moments you don’t remember
Were some of the best times of my life.


Bridge:
Did I savor those moments enough?
Wish I could go back and live them all again.
Just to see you like you were back then

Even though you don’t remember . . .
I do.
Even though those times have passed,
I still look back and think of you.
I know we must move on and turn the page,
But how I miss you when you were that age
The moments you don’t remember
Were some of the best times of my life.
Yeah, those moments you don’t remember,

. . . some of the best times of my life.

 

Even though you don’t remember,

I do