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Two Evergreen-turned-L.A. songwriters compose movie soundtrack

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A home worth song-writing about

By Corinne Westeman

When writing music for a movie about a country star visiting his hometown for the first time in 10 years, there’s only one place songwriters Brett Boyett and Jackson Odell had in mind.

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Evergreen.

The two, who hail from the mountain area but now reside in Los Angeles, cowrote songs for the movie “Forever My Girl,” which was released on Jan. 19.

“We pulled from a lot of personal experience, because ... it’s a film about coming back to who you really are,” Odell said. “(The song) ‘Finally Home’ is the crescendo of the film, and ... Brett (Boyett) and I both say it reminds us of Evergreen.”

Working on “Forever”

Boyett, a 1992 Evergreen High School graduate, and Odell, who attended Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, both ventured to California to pursue careers in music and film, and were randomly introduced a few years ago.

The two worked together on various projects, and when the film’s director asked Odell to help her with the music, he suggested she talk to Boyett.

Boyett, who has been in Los Angeles for 17 years, worked as the film’s executive music producer, and was in charge of not only the soundtrack but the underscore as well.

“Writing scores is completely different,” Boyett said of the process. “You have to write themes — a love theme, a theme for the little girl. You weave into those themes repeatedly, taking your cues off what’s happening on-screen.”

With the soundtrack, though, he and his team started by writing songs based on the script for lead actor Alex Roe to sing on-screen.

“As songwriters, Jackson and I were picking up vibes of what kind of artist (the character) Liam Page was. ...We had to decide what the tone of the script was, and the emotional context for the song to work,” he said. “... To assist the director, Bethany Ashton Wolf, in green-lighting the film, we went in and performed the songs for the executives.”

After making demos of each song, Boyett and his team found well-known country artists, including Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Travis Tritt, Lauren Alaina and Phillip Sweet, to perform them for the film.

Odell, who cowrote five songs on the soundtrack, said he wrote some of them before he knew of the film. For instance, he wrote “Smokin’ and Cryin’” back in 2014.

“Hearing a song on the radio that I wrote in my room one night, it’s surreal and super crazy,” Odell said. “It just goes to show that anybody can do this.”

Onward and upward

With their work on “Forever My Girl” finished, the two have some major music projects on the horizon.

Boyett, who previous worked on music for commercials and TV shows, said he is working on more movies and will continue flying to Nashville to write and produce for artists there.

Both Boyett and Odell said that while they love country music, they write other genres of music. Boyett is working with R&B and pop artists for television projects, and is part of a burlesque pop band.

“I want to do all of it. I love music, and I love all aspects of music, all genres,” he continued. “... I’m always in the car and I hear something that sounds like it’ll be a good hook. I’ll start singing into the phone and it’ll kind of drive my wife crazy. ... (But) if you have an idea, you have to put it down; you don’t want to lose it.”

Odell said he wants to focus on his own music career, including writing and putting out a solo album. He also hopes to continue working with Boyett, who has helped him hone his songwriting skills.

“Brett taught me how to write with focus and from a place of honesty; that’s why it was so easy to write with him,” Odell said. “He wants to affect people, and that’s what I want to do, too.”

The two have talked of returning to Evergreen together perhaps for a songwriting trip, Odell said, and they both credit their success, including their mixed musical influences, to the Evergreen community.

“Evergreen conjures up this sense of humility and hometown pride, and ... I’ll never forget it and neither will Brett,” Odell said. “... Those people and that place is what made me. ... I want them to be proud of me, because I’m so proud of the people there.”

“(Evergreen) is a very important part of my life; it’s where I started, where I was raised,” Boyett said. “It’s where my roots are, and it always will be.”