Poland native helps women make it in the music business

Kirsti Manna’s trade name — Songwriter Girl — just about says it all.

The Poland native is a songwriter in Nashville who has penned some huge hits, including Big & Rich’s “Loud” and Blake Shelton’s No. 1 smash “Austin.”

But she also leads workshops and weekend camps exclusively for women who want to make it in the music business.

She’ll give her first Youngstown-area Songwriter Girl workshop Saturday.

Manna knows a lot about writing songs. As part of Directions International, a music publishing house in Nashville, she co-writes with various artists.

But there’s a lot more to making it in the music biz than just having good songs, especially for a woman. In her workshops, she helps women of all ages navigate the obstacles of the music industry.

She offers “real information” about the business, including stage appearance, wardrobe, publishing, management, making money and dealing with rejection. And she caters to women, she said, because they need to know more than men.

“It’s a little harder for women,” said Manna. “They are prejudged, and judged differently than men.”

She teaches them how to work as team players, which is something many women aren’t used to doing. It’s all part of her goal of creative empowerment.

The women at her workshops are immersed in a safe environment, she said, one where they can say what they think. “For some women, everything changes when men are involved,” said Manna. “Plus, women just like to hang out with each other.”

The fact that participants range from teens to middle age is another plus, because each brings something to the table that the other never would have thought about.

Manna has presented workshops all over the world over the past four years and also offers weekend songwriter camps in Nashville.

Her workshops are not just for country music, either. They offer information about songwriting that applies to all genres.

Manna is a graduate of Poland Seminary High and has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Youngstown State University. She worked as a pianist and jazz singer in the area before setting off for Nashville, where she also occasionally performs. Manna is married to Boardman native Bill Warner, who is a music producer-engineer in Nashville.

Her Songwriter Girl workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Think Through Center, 5234 Southern Blvd., Suite D, Boardman. The cost is $50.

It is limited to 20 participants, and she has a handful of slots open. If interested, call 615-323-2915 or email info@songwritergirl.com.

For information, go to songwritergirl.com.


Boardman native Misty Alli has a role in the new film “Exit Strategy,” which opens Friday in limited theatrical release. For now, it’s not playing in the Youngstown market.

“Exit Strategy” is an urban “un-romantic” comedy about a man named James who is trying to break up with his girlfriend — but she refuses to get the message. Alli plays a friend of James’ who tries to help sever the relationship.

“Exit Strategy” stars Kimelia Weathers and Jameel Saleem in the two lead roles, with Quincy “Qdeezy” Harris, Big Boy and Kevin Hart. The film was directed by Michael Whitton, from a script written by Saleem.

After graduating from Ohio State University, Alli moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursure an acting career.

She is the daughter of Rick Alli and Delphine Baldwin-Casey, both of Youngstown.

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