Since 1988, Chick Singer Night has offered up-and-coming female singer-songwriters the chance to play for attentive listeners in nearly a dozen cities nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York and its original home, Chicago.
But Nashville was different. When the idea arose to bring the monthly shows here three years ago, the rationale had to be adjusted. After all, with writers' nights and in-the-rounds on every corner, this is not a town lacking in performance opportunities for musical hopefuls of either gender.
"Starting it in Nashville, I think, was harder than in any other city," says CSN's local co-director, Jaclyn Brown. "There's so much music here already. We had to find a way to make it different from every other show at the Bluebird Café."
CSN attracted talent by offering elements that few in-the-rounds could. First and foremost, there's the A-team house band, which makes a CSN performance a way for hopefuls to put on a showcase without going broke.
The full-band setup is also a lure for audiences, as is the diversity of the lineup. The artists in an average Chick Singer Night include representatives of rock, country, jazz and who-knows-what. Typical shows features four or five acts; Tuesday's three-hour anniversary show will host nine, including jazz singer Annie Sellick, Nashville Star contestant Christy McDonald and the 18-member a cappella group Session. (The show will be held at the roomier 3rd & Lindsley rather than at CSN's usual home, the Bluebird.)
Brown and co-director Laura Clapp, both of whom will be performing Tuesday, comb through about 50 submissions a month from artists hoping to be picked for Chick Singer Night. "Here we get mostly country submissions," says Brown, "so sometimes it's harder to mix it up."
Brown took on that task soon after CSN Nashville got started in 2002 at the instigation of country singer Lari White, a friend of CSN founder Lori Maier. White has performed at the past two CSN anniversary shows, but won't be there Tuesday due to a scheduling conflict.
White recommended Brown for the director slot, and since then she and Clapp have shepherded CSN Nashville through three years of steady growth. "Laura and I don't get paid, we do it because we love it," she notes. "We just want to promote women in music, and give them a chance to get out and do their thing."