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Russell Hoffman isn’t a celebrity, but the Hughesville man has made his first steps toward Nashville notoriety.
A lifelong lover of music, particularly country music, Hoffman said he always was intrigued by the songwriting process.
“My parents used to tell me all the time when I was little how I’d just stay in front of the radio for hours on end. I was fascinated by it,” Hoffman said. “I tried to sing a bit, but I can’t really sing. So, I said to myself, ‘Well, if Willie Nelson can write a song and make a million dollars off it, then there’s no reason I can’t, too.’”
After retiring in 2004, Hoffman’s first real attempt at songwriting came from a somewhat unusual source of inspiration.
“I was watching the 12 o’clock news one day, and during the commercials, they had one of them for Viagra,” Hoffman said. “I started to think about it, and I realized that nobody had ever written a song for Viagra. I sat down, gave it some thought and, in about 20 minutes time, I’d written my first song, ‘Little Blue Pill.’”
After some time songwriting, Hoffman traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to record a demo record that he said has not been picked up by any label yet, but still he hopes for it.
In the meantime, Hoffman recently has enjoyed his first bit of songwriting success at the commercial level: his holiday song, “The First Gift of Christmas,” was picked up by country label StarTune Records, which has worked with big names like Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, and has selected Hoffman’s song for a compilation album, “Anytime Christmas With You,” released in October.
“This is a big opening for me, I hope,” Hoffman said. “I’ve got the other demos made in Nashville, and I’ve sent them out all over to no avail, so I’m hoping that this gets me noticed.”
Quite simply, Hoffman said, his song is about “the spirit of the season.”
“It turned out real good. … Everyone I know encouraged me to put it out there, and it worked.”
Hoffman’s song is featured on the album with 11 songs from other brand-new songwriters like himself, and is for sale on the iTunes music store and Amazon.com. Friends have purchased his song, and Hoffman’s daughter also has promoted it on her Facebook account.
“I’ve got a product now, and I want to sell it,” Hoffman said. “It’s just like selling a used car. I want to make it shine. I know a lot of people who’ve tried this and never got anywhere with it. It’s going to be a good Christmas for me.”
Hoffman’s friend Karen Windsor, herself a country musician, is not the least bit surprised by his budding success.
“Russell writes everything from the heart,” Windsor said. “They’re very emotional and true to life. That’s just him. We want him to be rich and famous. I hope he remembers me when he gets his Grammy for songwriter of the year.”