Ernesto Gomez, of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, who serves as a captain at the county jail, has been recognized by the Renaissance Artists and Writers Association, or RAWA, for the song “Let Them Be Free,” a song he co-wrote with Stan Troup. Together, the duo has been writing songs for about 30 years.
“It can be about anything, everybody is trying to break free from something, whether it be addiction, we all want to be free from something,” Troup said. “We want to be free from COVID, I work at a hospital, COVID hit really bad, I’ve seen the other side of COVID.”
When Gomez and Troup went to work on the song, Troup had already had most of the lyrics written, while Gomez helped with putting together the melody of the song, with Gomez in particular putting together the bridge of the song. The dynamic between the two normally sees Troup come up with the lyrics while Gomez composes the melody and music of the song.
“The greatest aspect, I think, from music is timing, getting the lyric to fit the melody and not chasing a rhyme. Don’t chase the rhyme, chase the idea,” Gomez said. “You’re building a story that you want to express and you bring that song [with the lyrics] to build on what you’re trying to convey. It took a long time to stop trying to chase the rhyme and chasing the idea.”
After writing the song, Gomez and Troup emailed various companies the song on what’s called a work tape. The song was then picked up by Stacy Hogan, a producer in Nashville and owner of the publishing company A Writer’s Paradise, who had Deb Thomas, a singer in that studio, perform the song.
“When we heard the master track back, the first time I heard the song I was in tears, I was overcome emotionally when I first heard the master track played back to us,” said Gomez.
Through Hogan, Troup found about RAWA and decided to enter their song into the “Songs for Social Change 2020,” an annual competition. They entered this song two days before entries closed and managed to be a finalist, landing their song on the annual album featuring all finalists of the contest.
On their website, RAWA states their objective is to “promote progressive art and literature” and use their annual “Songs for Social Change” contest to search for songs “with lyrics addressing the social issues confronting society today.” All the finalists for this contest are put into an album containing the finalists’ song together.
The duo hopes that they can use this newfound success and connections to Nashville to get more of their music produced.
“I’ve been searching for years for someone to talk to in Nashville. I know people that know famous people, they’re friends with famous people and they’ve asked them ‘hey will you listen to this song’ and they won’t do it. They don’t want to do it because they don’t want to get sued, if they come up with something similar to yours, you get sued for it,” said Troup. “Unless you’re known in Nashville, they won’t listen to you. We’ve tried for years. Now we’re finally getting listened too, I hope. We’ll see where it takes us.”