Notes on Napkins

musings for songwriters


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GOLD STARS Report: Songs Recently Picked Up (latest update)

On our SongU virtual campus, success is achieved through our focus on education and making each song the strongest it can be BEFORE spending money on a demo. We offer numerous opportunities for songwriters to reach their goals, from one-on-one coaching to live feedback sessions, to peer and mentor co-writes.

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs signed or pitched for the following SongU leads during the time period August 26th – September 22nd, 2020.

Pitch For Publisher. Christian. VARIOUS CHRISTIAN & POSITIVE COUNTRY ARTISTS. Extended! (“I’m finding some great songs from these SongU writers! Keep them coming.” – D.G.) Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs to pitch to Christian labels Daywind Records /Mountain Fever Records / Red Hen Records – 65/40 Records. Submit the following: Southern Gospel / Bluegrass and Positive Country songs, male …

    • Adam Avery “IF I SANG HALLELUJAH” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Priscilla Connolly “I WILL BE STRONG “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Tonia Dyer “HOLY SPIRIT” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Gordon Ellis “MAMA HOLD ON” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Matt Glickstein “STONE BY STONE “ (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Johnson “I WAS TOO WEAK” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Carey Latham “I’M NOT DONE CRYING YET” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Alexsi Mallory “TEN FINGERS TEN TOES” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Karen Mitchell “WORK OF ART “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Tim Morgan “EMPTY VESSEL (DEMO)” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Pellegrini “ALL MY DAYS” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Pellegrini “LET IT GO” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Ken Wank “TOGETHER(WE’RE BETTER)” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “LOVIN’ LEAD” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “ON MY OWN DEMO” (Date picked up: 9/16/2020)

Pitch For Other. Country. This is an opportunity from our friends at Liva Music Switzerland to get airplay on international radio stations. Liva is connected to over 450 Country stations in Europe, 80 Country stations in Australia, and also about 200 stations in the USA. They have very specific song submission guidelines, so read ENTIRE description before submitting…

  • Roger Brantley “NO PLACE FOR COUNTRY” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • John Murphy “DON’T LET GO (TROY ERVIN CUT)” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Ava Paige “I’LL BE GONE “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Joanne Stacey “HE LOVES HER STILL” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Joanne Stacey “THE SCENT OF A GOOD MAN” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Jamie Trent “THROWBACKS AND KEEPERS” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Jamie Trent “TUBE SOCK AND CROC” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. REBA. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for Universal artist Reba McEntire. Looking for songs, any tempo, in the classic style and sound of Reba McEntire. Specifically, songs that are bold, fresh, sassy, fun, lively, uninhibited and full of spirit a la “Take It Back”, “Why Haven’t I Heard From You”, also story songs, a la “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” …

   • Loralei Ells “IF I LIED” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Americana, Country, Singer Songwriter. LEE ANN WOMACK. Extended! Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for ATO Records artist Lee Ann Womack . Looking for songs, any tempo that meet at the intersection of Americana and Singer/Songwriter. Think about songs that with lyrical introspection, veiled by elaborate metaphors and memories, and songs with a distinctive roots oriented sound. Pitch Follow-up: Publishing …

    • Wes Bullock “FELL RIGHT” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • John Cirillo “OH MY HEART” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN- FEMALE” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • Carol Hashe Rainone “HOUR OF LETTING GO” (Date picked up: 8/28/2020)
    • Mitch Townley “IF LOVE WAS A HOUSE” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020

Pitch For Song Plugger. Americana, Singer Songwriter, Alternative. ROSE FALCON/ RODNEY ATKINS. Extended! Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Curb artists Rose Falcon and Rodney Atkins. Seeking solo songs for each as well as duets as per the following:
–Solo songs for Rose Falcon ala American singer-songwriter, Caitlyn Smith.
–Solo songs for Rodney Atkins with a Jason Isbell vibe.
–Additionally open-minded …

    • John Cirillo “OH MY HEART” (Date picked up: 9/5/2020)
    • John Cirillo “HURRICANE AFTER YOU” (Date picked up: 9/5/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Americana, Traditional Country. JON WOLFE. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. SUBMIT all tempos of Traditional Country/Americana songs. For more about this artist go to http://www.jonwolfecountry.com/#home. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching …

    • Ricki Bellos “BLUE SKY RAIN” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Brad Mckinney “I’M ON IT” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. MATT FARRIS. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. MATT NEEDS: a “career breaking” Radio-friendly Country single. Mid or Uptempo. For more about this artist go to https://mattfarriscountry.com/. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your …

     • John Condrone “LYIN” ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Brad Mckinney “I’M ON IT” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • John Prichard “CRUSHING ON YOU” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. 90’s Country. CHRIS WEBB. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. SUBMIT: upbeat 90’s Country with a modern feel ala “Life In a River Town”. Listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxOxu0LMTgc. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest …

    • Loralei Ells “ON SATURDAY” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Chelsie Taylor “EVER HOPED FOR” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Americana, Singer Songwriter. Pitch guest, N.P., is looking for an emotional and commiserating song about never giving up, daring to speak out, fighting for a better tomorrow, wise leadership, equality, love vs. hate, etc. Songs that wear hearts on their sleeves, but nothing angry or bitter. The characters are warm, diverse and good humored and so our aim is to close with a powerful song that not only motivates, but also unites. Indie Pop, Singer-Songwriter, Americana. Male …

    • John Cirillo “COMEBACK KIDS” (Date picked up: 9/1/2020)
    • John Cirillo “I AM A FORCE” (Date picked up: 9/1/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Contemporary Country. TRACK 45. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for incredible songs for BBR Music Group/Universal Records artist Track 45. This is a sibling trio (Ben, Jenna and KK) from Mississippi. Three voices with an amazing blend, ‘blood harmony’ as we call it in the south. All are great vocalists, instrumentalists and songwriters so pitch your very best songs, the bar is high! Their …

    • Rita Weyls “HEARTBEAT” (Date picked up: 9/17/2020)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 9/17/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Pop, Soul, Hip Hop. Pitch guest, N.P., is is looking for two types of songs for sync licensing for this show:
1. Emotional and uplifting, but not too sweet or schmaltzy – a story of a man trying to get back to his family and clear his name.
2. Determined, swagger, willing to do anything to beat the odds, won’t be held back, Nothing that sounds angry/aggressive, it’s more about resolve and strength of character.
Themes: …

    • Adam Avery “COMING HOME” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • John Cirillo “FEELING HOLY” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. DAILEY & VINCENT. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for BMG Rights Imprint Label artist Dailey & Vincent. These Bluegrass stars are doing a Country album. SUBMIT radio-friendly hits. Harmony with great lyrics and melody. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for publishing if a major recording results …

    • John Cirillo “PRETTY IN BLUE” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “TAILLIGHTS IN THE DARK. DEMO” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)

And a round of applause to those marked ‘Maybe’ too. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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Meet the SongU Special Event Pitch Guests

Join us for the latest “Staff Writer For A Day!” Special Event Pitch which is running during the months of October and November 2020. This is an exclusive opportunity to be selected by Emily Dryburgh, Creative Director of Deluge Music, for a chance to find out what it’s like to be a professional staff songwriter for a day. This includes a meeting with Emily and a CO-WRITING SESSION with hit songwriter, Danny Myrick! Additionally, Emily will be listening for potential signings for single song contracts. She says she’s excited to hear new writers and new material.

Deluge Music is a Los Angeles and Nashville-based Publishing, Management and Record company.  Opening its doors in 2015, Deluge has become home to hit and developing songwriters with cuts by artists including Rod Stewart, Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Jason Aldean, Reba, Walker Hayes, Rascal Flatts, Ashley McBryde, Keith Urban and more! They Currently have Lady A’s single, “Champagne Night” and have recently landed a TBA major deal with one of their artists. 

Emily Dryburgh, Deluge Music Creative Director

Emily Dryburgh is the Creative Director and Nashville face of Deluge Music.  Her duties include managing and/or developing writers and artists between LA and Nashville, setting up collabs, tweaking and pitching songs, overseeing creative processes, and developing and maintaining relationships with other publishers, managers, labels, writers, producers, etc. in the Nashville music industry.  Prior to Deluge, Emily worked in artist management, handling “day to day” and development for Grammy, CMA and Tony award winning artists in the Country, Bluegrass and Gospel genres.

Danny Myrick, songwriter

Danny Myrick is a 3 time #1 Country songwriter and producer, and 6 time #1 Gospel and Contemporary Christian writer. With songs recorded by Tim Mcgraw, Jason Aldean, LoCash, Craig Morgan, Maddie and Tae, Trace Adkins, Big and Rich, Randy Houser and more.  Danny has Trace Adkins current single, “Just The Way We Do It.”

A little bit muddy water Mississippi preacher’s kid, a little bit California beach bum, Danny grew up playing, singing and writing for his family’s gospel band in south Mississippi and being consumed with 70’s FM radio. He achieved his first #1 gospel song as a songwriter at the age of 17 before moving to Nashville.  After landing several more #1 Gospel and Contemporary Christian hits, Danny re-focused his attention on founding and fronting country rock band, Western Flyer, with whom he made two albums and had several Top 40 singles, including What Will You Do With M-E and Cherokee Highway, which dealt strongly with racial division in the Deep South and led to Western Flyer being the first country artist invited to play the annual Martin Luther King Day in Atlanta. 

Following thousands of miles on the road with Western Flyer, Danny decided to stay home in Nashville, and ended up singing 100s of songwriter demos as well as adding background vocals to numerous albums by the likes of Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry and Keith Anderson before immersing himself in his love of songwriting.

Over his career, Danny has produced numerous artists, including The FARM and The Jane Dear Girls, and has written songs for a wide range of artists from Maddie & Tae to Joe Cocker, celebrating numerous hits, including Craig Morgan’s “International Harvester, Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah”, LoCash’s “I Love This Life”, as well as 2009’s most played country smash, “She’s Country” for Jason Aldean! 

Danny’s wide array of interests has led to appearances on MSNBC and CNN discussing political and religious topics affecting country music and southern culture.  He is currently working on several projects, including his own self-produced album, King Of Jones County;  and releasing remixes under his alter ego DJ DMaxx featuring social media sensation Leslie Jordan.  Danny currently writes for Deluge Music.  

As the old adage says, “You can’t play the game when you’re sitting on the bench.” Whether or not you win the co-write session or a song contract, you will have done the work of a songwriter by putting your song out there into the world. Good luck to all!

For more inspiration read the interview with our Fall 2020 Staff Writer for a Day:


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Pitching: It’s All About the Right Fit

Recently, we received an insightful observation in an email from SongU member, Bob Otting from Illinois, who wrote:

“I have a very, very limited number of songs that are pitch worthy – 6 max. Thus, I am sending the same songs out over and over to the same [pitch guests] on SongU and thinking, ‘These folks must hear that first note and scream ‘NOT AGAIN! WHY DO THEY KEEP SENDING ME THIS?!??” But then every once in a while I get a response: ‘Yes, Selected for this Meeting’, or a ‘Maybe’. It tells me I should keep pitching – its all about the right fit. Thanks for all you fine folks do at SongU!”

Bob’s insight is right on target. Industry pros like publishers, A&R reps, licensing agents, and recording artists listen to a lot of songs, and when listening, they often have a very narrow scope. So, they can frequently tell right away whether a given song may or may not work for a particular pitch. When you cast your song and pitch it again for a completely different project, the same set of ears listens differently. I’ve had songs turned down by an A&R person who two or three months later put the song on hold for another artist.

What does “pitch-worthy” mean? Bob adds an additional insight when he mentions his songs are “pitch-worthy,” meaning that he can objectively deem them competitive for the market place. How does he know this? He has taken the time to get feedback on his songs from mentors (that include hit songwriters, publishers, producers, and licensing agents) who have given him the thumbs-up. He probably has had to do some re-writing and tweaking to get them there, but once he got an okay, he knew his songs would be on a level playing field with the other songs being pitched in a professional arena.

Photo by Paulo Victor on Pexels.com

This Month’s Featured Pitches

Christmas/Holiday Songs. Pitch For Licensing Agent. Americana/Folk, Indie Pop, Jazz, Pop, Singer-Songwriter. Extended through August! Keep them coming! Holiday-themed songs needed now for film and advertising. Street Pitch guest, N.P., says productions are starting up for the holidays. Here’s what we need:
a. Cover songs of popular holiday songs and Christmas carols.
b. Original songs with great hooks, fun, upbeat, warm and positive…

Rose Falcon / Rodney Atkins. Pitch For Song PluggerAlternative, Americana, Singer Songwriter.  Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Curb artists Rose Falcon and Rodney Atkins. Seeking solo songs for each as well as duets as per the following:
–Solo songs for Rose Falcon ala American singer-songwriter, Caitlyn Smith.
–Solo songs for Rodney Atkins with a Jason Isbell…

SongU.com: Online songwriting courses, co-writing, pitching, connections

Learn More About Pitching at SongU.com

Pitching at SongU is all online. Your songs go directly to our pitch guests. We’ve designed our Street pitch opportunities to connect members with several dedicated music publishers, song pluggers, and licensing agents looking for specific projects in order to mimic how almost every publishing company works. The truth is, unless you’re writing with the artist or producer, this is still a primary mode for “outside” songwriters to get a cut. It’s certainly better to have a plugger who can play the song for the A&R team, the producer, the manager and/or the artist rather than strictly have an A&R rep on who might not hear the song or have the final say in the decision making process. We also make direct connections to independent artists who are listening for their own projects. We’re really proud of our members when they have success with their writing, much like any teacher would be who sees their students successes.


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The Big Reveal! Staff Writer for a Day with WinSongs Music.

Recently, we invited Kirby Smith, Creative Director of WinSongs Music to the SongU virtual campus to get to know our writers. She listened to over 200 songs submitted throughout May and June and chose what she felt were the strongest of the bunch. That group of 22 songs became the list RISING STAR CONTENDERS. One final song rose to the top as the winner of “Staff Writer for the Day”. Congratulations to Kelly McKay with her brilliant song “Kiss the Hell Out of Me.” Kelly will be set up through WinSongs for a co-write session with hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos.

Because the primary goal of SongU is always to inform and educate, this week we had Kirby visit our e-classroom to find out about her work as a Creative Director (particularly in the time of Corona), as well as her listening process and what pros and cons factored into her choices for choosing the contenders, and finally to reveal her choice for Staff Writer for a Day! Thanks to Kirby for being so generous with her time, information and insights into the song selection and pitching process! Without further ado…

CONGRATULATIONS to the Top Contenders who all received the SongU “Rising Star Award”!

*Wes Bullock (4 songs)
*Elvira Cawthon (3 songs)
*Bill Gue (2 songs)
*Brenda Kornblum (2 songs)
*Brad McKinney
*David Nicastro (2 songs)
*Kenneth Riggins
*Becky Smith (2 songs)
*Dempsey Watson
*Rita Weyls

And to Kelly McKay (2 songs) from TN, SongU member since 2013, for winning the top spot of “Staff Writer for a Day” with WinSongs Music.

A round of applause to every one who submitted their songs to this challenge. As the maxim says, you can’t win the game if you’re sitting on the bench. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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Special Event Pitch: Staff Writer for a Day!

Between May 1st and June 30th 2020, SongU.com is running a special event: Staff Writer for a Day.  This is an opportunity to pitch your songs for a chance to see what it would be like to be a staff songwriter which includes getting set up by our guest publisher for a CO-WRITE SESSION with a hit songwriter! 

If you aren’t sure what the term Staff Writer means, you’re not aloneWhen I moved to Nashville in the early 1990’s and got serious about my songwriting, many of my peers were hoping to become a full-time paid songwriter for a music publishing company (aka a staff writer). The concept was so strange to me that I had to wonder if I ever had the chance to be a staff writer, would I even like it? At the time, I questioned whether I would really enjoy writing songs on demand, on a timetable, with a quota, being “set up” on blind co-writing dates, writing to make the creative director at my publishing company happy, and asking their permission to demo songs.

After about four years of engrossing myself in the Music Row experience of constant writing, re-writing, networking, co-writing, over-coming performance fears, sheepishly meeting with ASCAP reps and music publishers who would listen to my songs, and politely or not-so-politely tell me that I wasn’t quite “there” yet, I built a strong catalog of songs. By then, the idea of being a professional songwriter had grown on me. One day, miraculously, I was hired by a little music publishing company called Zamalama Music as their first staff writer (cue the Rocky theme song).

It turned out that this job gave me valuable lessons in how to prepare myself mentally every morning to “show up and write” whether I was feeling creative or not. I made sure to arrive at those blind date co-writes with lots of potential titles and ideas to jump start our meetings. I learned to leave my ego at the door and do what was best for the song. Most importantly, I found an inner confidence that only comes when your songs have been rejected so many times, you can laugh and moooove on! Here’s a picture of the bay window of the Zamalama writers room on Music Row where I eventually co-penned a hit song!

Check out the staff writer experience for yourself:

A SPECIAL EVENT PITCH – STAFF WRITER FOR A DAY! This is your opportunity to be selected by Kirby Smith, Creative Director of WinSongs Music Publishing, for a chance to find out what it’s like to be a professional staff songwriter for a day, including a meeting with Kirby and a CO-WRITING SESSION with hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos! Read about our guests.

For details about how to submit your songs between May 1st – June 30th 2020 for a chance to win STAFF WRITER FOR A DAY! Go to the Pitching area of SongU.com.

2000 ASCAP Awards. Connie Bradley, Kacey Jones, Sharon Lane, me, 


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Pitching in the Time of Corona: A Dispatch From our Publishers

With all the transitions and changes going on these days, I asked the music publishers and song pluggers we work with regularly to give us an update on pitching in the time of Corona. Here’s what they said:

“Still pitching strong and I think our decision makers are more at their computers listening to songs than perhaps ever before.”

Jeffrey Nelson, Song Plugger

“Song pitching continues uninterrupted…The dynamics of pitching have, of course, changed recently in that social distancing has made in person pitch meetings, at least for the moment, not possible. I do however, continue to maintain communication with industry decision makers and continue to pitch them songs via links and mp3’s, much of which I already did anyway.”

Additionally worth noting, “This is the time of the year that acts who are going to record Christmas records are beginning to look for songs.”

Dallas Gregory, Publisher, Song Rocket Music

“There will be no personal one-on-one meetings but the selected songs will be sent to my contacts and they will be considered. Recording dates etc have been altered and moved to unspecified dates due to the coronavirus. Keep writing great songs and keep the faith.”

Bob Dellaposta, Publisher, My 3 Kids Music

“There has been a definite halt in some of the film / TV show productions. The music supervisors are emailing and saying that we have a couple weeks to send in songs rather than 24-48 hours. But there are lots of TV shows already in post production so we are continuing to get requests for songs. The ad agencies work a long time on a client’s branding so we are getting requests for those also.”

Nancy Peacock, Licensing Agent, Washington Street Music Publishing

Thanks to all these sincerely dedicated music professionals for keeping our songs out there and getting us placements and cuts!


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Dear SongU, Can We Talk About Pitch Submission Deadlines?

I’d like to share a SongU member inquiry that recently landed in my inbox: “Dear Songu, can we talk about extensions for deadlines on pitch submissions on songu? How do they occur? What kind of relationships do you have, that ever cause to allow this? What actually happens? Thank you kindly.” – J. (Vancouver, B.C. Canada)

Dear J.,

What a great question! Let me explain the process we use at SongU.com. To get the leads and submission deadlines for our Street Pitches, I communicate directly with several song pluggers, music publishers and licensing agents that are out there “on the street” making appointments with the artists, record labels, and such to find out who is looking for songs, what kinds of songs they want or need, and when they will be in the studio recording.

After you’ve been working in the industry for a while, you learn that most artists search for songs over a period of time from a couple of months to even a year or more. It is often a moving target as the artists  find songs they like, target songs they hope to find to fill out the album, or “change direction” from what they thought they originally wanted.

Based on the information our pitch guests relay to me each month, I post the Street pitch leads and submission deadlines. Then, a few days before the deadlines (which generally fall either mid-month or end of month), I send out an email asking if they want to extend any listings or send new ones. Here is an example of an email I received this week:

Good Morning Sara!

Sorry I’m just getting back to you.  Let’s keep Mark Wills and Chris Golden active through the end of May if that’s o.k. as they continue to be very engaged in receiving and listening to songs.  We can pull Hannah Dasher on the 15th, but I may re-list Hannah in a few weeks IF she is still looking for songs.  They’re assessing what they have at this time.  I’ll get with you later today with fresh pitch opps.

Have a wonderful day 🙂

DG

Thanks for taking the time to check in with us and find out more. I hope this explanation helps clarify.

Best wishes,
Sara
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Sara Light, Co-Founder & President
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