By Samantha Bartram

            The concept of “home” can be imagined many different ways—a building, a country, a person—however defined, we know it when we feel it. Some warm, familiar sensation spreads across the brain, the chest warms, the corners of the mouth tick upward. 

            This is the feeling Todd Wright’s recently debuted song, “Coming Home,” seeks to evoke in its listeners. Something between the sweet satisfaction of being wrapped in a cozy comforter, and the tingly excitement of an enveloping hug from a friend.

            “It’s very special for me to be from a place and feelfrom a place, even though I wasn’t born and raised here,” Wright, one of Loudoun’s best-known and best-loved singer/songwriter/storytellers, said of his connection to the area. “Growing up, we moved around a lot … no place felt like home until I came here in my mid- to late-30s.” Wright said he tapped into that feeling well before “Coming Home” morphed into the collaboration with Visit Loudoun that it eventually became. 

            Indeed, the song has humble origins, described by Wright as initially a “generic exercise,” one song among the many he pens that often “never see the light of day.” But, the subject matter—home—elicited an intriguing exercise for the musicians in Wright’s studio. “Songwriting is my job, and I’m always getting a barrage of requests for songs about home, coming home, being home,” he said. “I said, let’s just write that song, and as we started, it felt very generic. And we started to think, ‘what does where we’re from mean to us?’ It may sound cheesy, but we didn’t want to phone it in. We started thinking about what was around us—Loudoun County.”

             The “generic” outlines of the song thus established, one evening Wright found himself musing with fellow musical wunderkind and artist, Stilson Greene, that the tune would be a perfect Loudoun theme song. “We kind of joked about it,” Wright said. 

            Then they met with Beth Erickson, the president and CEO at Visit Loudoun and her new marketing vice president, Mark Roeber, who were planning a special celebration to commemorate the 50thanniversary of the commonwealth’s Virginia is for Lovers tourism slogan—a Summer of Love Tour highlighting event throughout the county. They played her the song … she agreed it would work perfectly as a theme for the summer. 

            “She and Mark asked if I’d be willing to rewrite some of the existing lyrics to make it even more evocative of Loudoun County,” Wright said.

            Wright, fellow singer/songwriters Tommy Gann and Jeff Wharen, and engineer/mixer Ethan Mentzer made thoughtful adjustments, ending up with a song that, ideally, helps listeners feel their deepest roots wherever they may be. “We’re trying to evoke that feeling and would hope [“Coming Home”] is broad enough that most people would hear it, and get it, and feel it,” Wright said. “They hear it and feel like, ‘I’d like to be wherever that is.’”

            While “Coming Home” certainly has broad appeal, as many of Wright’s songs demonstrably do—his chart-topping credentials, from K-pop to Celine Dion, are well-documented—it’s grounded in a deeply felt sense of place and belonging. “Anytime you write a song that feels authentic—and I write plenty that feel inauthentic,” Wright said, laughing and clarifying that he “loves pop and fun and light music.” 

            “But,” he continued, “to the singer/songwriter in me, when you get a chance to write something truly authentic, and to have Visit Loudoun latch on to this and help make it their own … they not only sought out someone who lives, loves, works in Loudoun County—to actually commission me and not use stock [music] when it’s the cheapest, easiest option to get their message out there—it shows they really do care about making what’s local a focal point. That really meant a lot.”

            Look for “Coming Home” in upcoming Visit Loudoun campaigns at visitloudoun.org. And, catch Wright and his extremely talented daughter, Ryan Wright, live at their upcoming Acoustic on the Green performance, 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29, on the Town Green in Leesburg—more information is available at acousticonthegreen.com. 

Coming Home

There’s a place where I belong

Rolling hills, Virginia sun

And when I’m in the vines my restless heart runs

There’s a place where I belong

I’m coming home

Where the faces and the names are real

Everywhere you go

Been on my own 

And there’s something that I need to feel

So I’m coming home

When I’m a million miles away

These old roads lead to family

Under Loudoun skies where dreams are handmade

I’m a million miles away

I’m coming home

Where the faces and the names are real

Everywhere you go

Been on my own 

And there’s something that I need to feel

So I’m coming home

– music and lyrics by Todd Wright, Tommy Gann and Jeff Wharen

– sound engineering/mixing by Ethan Mentzer