In a city like Nashville, it takes a lot to stand out.
Nearly two decades after arriving and making his home in Franklin, longtime songwriter Greg Pope has
finally found his voice in the crowd.
“I think it’s this children’s book and me taking the time to put my heart and life into it,” said Pope, of his
first book, “I’m a Big Girl,” which will be released March 3.
The story isn’t unique. In fact, it’s relatable to what all fathers go through as they watch their daughters
grow up and become independent young women.
It’s a simple yet emotional story that Pope calls “powerful.”
The 39-year-old Pope relocated from Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1997, and settled in Williamson County a
Like so many others, music brought him to town.
As a young boy, he learned to play the piano. Later — after discovering the likes of Jackson Browne and
The Eagles — he picked up the guitar. By 18, he was “a human jukebox.”
“I was playing full gigs” four nights a week, Pope said.
By then, he was also writing country-influenced songs, which he mostly kept to himself until he made his
way to Nashville at 21 with aspirations of becoming a recording artist and touring.
However, family — he and his first wife have two children, Savannah, 15, and Ayden, 6 — became a
responsibility and, likewise, his livelihood.
When it came to music, his time was something of a juggling act.
“To be candid, I would have loved more time to do music,” said Pope, but his priorities changed.
Instead of playing clubs, he spent free moments at night and on weekends developing as a songwriter.
“If I can write something that matters, then maybe it carries the rest of the stuff,” he thought. “You start
to take that approach and it’s something you can do whenever the inspiration hits you.”
Over the years, he’s written with the likes of Dierks Bentley and Matchbox Twenty guitarist Kyle Cook.
While he’s had a few album cuts for various artists, he’s never experienced any mainstream success as
far as country radio or album sales.
“It’s a tough crowd,” Pope explained. “It’s a very small, select few that are getting cuts on these
Learning to let go
Songwriting has always been a personal process for Pope and none was more personal than the song
“I’m a Big Girl Now,” which he wrote for his first-born daughter, who the family nicknamed Savvy.
She was 4 years old when he wrote it.
“My daughter changed my world, so it was a matter of sitting down and trying to capture something for
her,” said Pope, who didn’t pursue writing the book until seven years later.
Savvy is described as having been opinionated and independent since she was a toddler.
Pope said the idea behind the song was to capture a father learning how to let go.
“When I played that song out live I’d sit at the piano and play it and you could really see it touch
people,” Pope recalled. “It was a bigger reaction than me just singing it. It was hitting home. It was not a
unique story. My story with Savannah isn’t unique. Anybody who loves their daughter and loves their
dad, it’s their story.
“It happens to all of us.”
A year before he began work on the book version, he reconnected with his high school girlfriend,
Heather. They married and have since had a son, Henley, 3.
He called the book, which is a coffee table book illustrated with freehand paintings by Lea Wells, a
As with the song, the story portrayed in the book — the song is for fathers, whereas the book is for
daughters — is bigger than the two of them.
Given his musical taste, it’s no surprise the book reads like a father/daughter version of the Harry Chapin
classic “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
“I think that’s a great comparison,” Pope agreed.
The book also comes with a CD that includes an intimate acoustic version of “I’m a Big Girl Now,” an
original lullaby, a read-a-long track from the book and cover of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which he
recorded with Savvy when she was 14.
“It turned out to be something very special,” said Pope, who envisions the book being a perfect gift from
fathers to their daughters on those memorable moments throughout their lives — sweet 16, graduating
from high school or college, wedding day or upon the birth of their first child.
“It’s a great moment for a dad.”