If you're one of 25,556,454 people who've watched the video for the Zac Brown Band's "Sweet Annie," you heard some of the work of co-writer John Pierce.
Pierce, a University of Montana graduate, is one of five songwriters who'll share their work next week during the Grizzly Songwriters Showcase. There's also Kostas Lazarides, who grew up in Billings and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last month. Among other hits, he wrote Patty Loveless' "Timber, I'm Falling in Love." He'll be joined by Susan Gibson, who wrote "Wide Open Spaces," which has reached an untrackable number of listeners since the Dixie Chicks covered it in 1998.
Gibson is a regular songwriter-showcase collaborator with the other names on the bill: Tom Catmull, a UM graduate who's been praised for his songwriting going back years now, and John Floridis, a guitarist-singer-radio host from "Musician's Spotlight."
The five scribes, all of whom have Montana ties or attended the University of Montana, have been gathered together for a show wrangled to benefit the University of Montana Entertainment Management Program, and designed and put on by the students.
Program director Mike Morelli said they came up with the idea after going to the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival and began thinking of songwriters over here that are making a living at their craft.
"That's really important for our students to see, and it's really important for the community to understand that, hey, you can make it. You can make a cool life in music," he said.
Students across all classes in the program have organized the event, from marketing and artist liaisons.
Alexandra Oster is a junior on exchange from the University of New Orleans, here for a year to earn her entertainment management certificate with intentions of going into the touring aspect of the business.
As the liaison, she's been in "constant contact" with the artists, getting any information they might need about equipment, travel and dietary restrictions, and setting up promotion for the show.
The students are "basically doing it all" for the show, with Morelli helping guide them, she said.
"It's the first time we're doing it, and it's students that are putting it on. It's really spectacular. I just don't think I've heard of anything like that happening until I came here, so it's really exciting and I'm happy to be a part of it," she said.
Randy Reynolds, a junior in business management, is the corporate sponsorship liaison. He's reached out, pitch deck in hand, to solicit donations, whether for the program, the event, or the silent auction.
Morgenroth Music donated a Yamaha acoustic guitar starter pack and the songwriters will sign before it's auctioned off, "a premiere item" that he's proud to have gotten in.
The day after the concert, the songwriters will all head to the UM School of Music and talk with students there and answer questions about their career paths.
In the spring, UMEM students are going to work together in a similar fashion with the goal of bringing a big-name comedy show to Missoula.
Graduates of the program have been hired locally, for Logjam Presents, and some worked on the Under the Big Sky Music Festival in Whitefish. Others have worked in analytics for Disney or sports teams like the Dodgers and Lakers.