Coy Bowles, a guitarist and organist for the Zac Brown Band, takes the same approach to writing children’s books as he does to penning lyrics for the three-time Grammy Award-winning country group.
“You have to say a lot in a short amount of words,” he said. “There’s also a rhyming structure. Not all songs rhyme, but a lot of them do, and the same can be said with children’s books. But they both need to have a flow because they are both ways of telling a story.”
Bowles’ latest literary work, “Will Powers: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way,” is an inspirational children’s book about achieving one’s goals through dedication and a strong work ethic, as Will’s musical journey teaches him the value of hard work and the power of believing in oneself.
Bowles, a 37-year-old native of Thomaston, Ga., said the book’s message is applicable to everyone who inspires to lead, not only by example or vocally, “but by having the self-confidence to be successful.”
“It’s a universal message because all leaders — and not just the ones who are out in front all the time — have three main qualities,” he added. “They need to have confidence, work ethic and stay true to the qualities that make them a unique individual.”
Bowles’ first children’s book, “Amy Giggles — Laugh Out Loud,” which was released in 2011, is a tale of self-confidence, reassurance, accepting who you are and realizing the differences that make everyone unique.
Bowles’ latest work, which features illustrations by Brian de Tagyos, took more than a year to produce, as he started putting pen to paper in the fall of 2014. However, just days before he was ready to take the book to press himself, he was approached by Post Hill Press, which published it about six months later.
Bowles’ rise to become part of a band that has recorded eight songs and three albums that have reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country chart shows he possesses the same traits that are in his books. After earning a degree from Georgia State University’s Jazz Studies program, Bowles formed his own band, Coy Bowles and the Fellowship. In 2006, his band performed so well as an opening act for the Zac Brown Band that Zac — the lead singer — asked Coy to join his band.
“He’s now one of my all-time best friends,” Bowles said.
Bowles, however, isn’t inspired by other authors; in fact, he can’t remember the last book he read, saying “the only books I read in school were the ones I had to. When I was reading, I felt guilty because it was time I could have spent playing scales on my guitar.” Instead, Bowles learned how to craft a story by watching movies — lots of them, over and over.
He’ll watch a movie the first few times to learn how the director develops the story and characters before watching it again to gauge it’s cinematography, which he uses to guide the illustrations in his books.
“I’ve watched a movie 20 or 30 times,” he said, adding “The Departed,” “The Big Lebowski” and “The Revenant” are among his favorites. “I’m a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan.”
Bowles, who was inspired to explore all of his creativity by a friend who died six years ago, isn’t a father. However, he and his wife, Kylie, who were married in September 2013, are planning on having kids. But considering he plays for one of the world’s biggest bands and is in the middle of its sixth headlining tour, parenthood has been put on hold.
“Will Powers: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way” costs $17, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Atlanta-based nonprofit Sunshine on a Ranney Day, which renovates homes for children with special needs. Bowles is also involved in Camp Southern Ground, a charity that serves children from all backgrounds, with an emphasis on those with neurobehavioral disorders, social or emotional challenges and kids from military families. Zac Brown is a former counselor.
Bowles doesn’t know when he’ll author another book, but he doesn’t have a lot of free time. The Zac Brown Band’s “Black Out The Sun” tour will be one of the summer’s hottest events, as it will play in four Major League Baseball stadiums — Minneapolis’ Target Field, Houston’s Minute Maid Park, New York City’s Citi Field and Boston’s Fenway Park — as part of a hectic schedule before concluding in early September.
“I can’t even fathom how far I’ve come with everything,” Bowles said. “I still can’t even fathom that we won a Grammy and we’ve won three of them. I’m just appreciative and want to give back to others. If I make the best sellers list, it will be an honor.”
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