OAK HILL, TN — Composer, songwriter and community leader Stacy Widelitz has established a stellar track record of success in both the worlds of entertainment and area civic leadership. His impressive resume in the music world includes a multi-platinum album for his contribution to the smash hit movie “Dirty Dancing,” starring Patrick Swayze. The movie’s standout hit song ‘’She’s Like the Wind,” was co-written by Swayze and Widelitz. The song sold 11 million copies in the United States alone. It was the third single to be released and reached no. 3 on Billboard’s top-40 chart (no. 1 among adult-contemporary radio listeners). Widelitz also received two BMI Awards for the tune as among the most-performed songs of that year. The Dirty Dancing movie recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
But Stacy’s composing accolades were just beginning. In the past few years, he has scored more than twenty made-for-TV movies, which includes writing the end-title song for Disney’s “Pocahontas II.” He was nominated for an Emmy for ABC’s ‘World of Discovery.’ Stacy wrote the title song and scored all the episodes of Children’s Television Workshop’s acclaimed animated series Cro. He scored and composed much of the dance music for the film ‘One Last Dance,’ which won the Best Music Award at the Nashville Film Festival. Over the years, he’s collaborated on numerous projects with some of Nashville’s leading songwriters.
Mr. Widelitz moved to Nashville seventeen years ago. In addition to his music talents, he’s also equally, if not more successful, in the area of community leadership. Some of the many Boards he’s involved with include:
• The Nashville Film Festival
• ALIAS Chamber Ensemble
• City of Oak Hill, TN Board of
• President, Board of Directors of
Leadership of Music (2017-2018)
• Nashville Opera, President-Elect
Between his music and political work, writing with Danish songwriters from Copenhagen on a new project, and redesigning his recording studio, Stacy found some time to answer Five Questions with the Tribune.
TRIBUNE: Thirty years ago, did you guys have any idea that Dirty Dancing the film and its music would be so enduring? STACY W.: No, idea at all. When the movie was being shot, even in the editing phase, the word on the street in Los Angeles, was this film was going straight to video after running a week in theatres, especially because the production company was Vestron, which was only known for home video at that point. So, that was their plan, to get it into theatres for a week, and then try to sell as many VHS copies of it as they could. But once the movie opened in August of 1987, everything shifted. The album shot to number one, the movie opened at number four in the box office, went to number three, and then number two. Normally, movies don’t do that. And so, it just became this sleeper hit that nobody expected, least of all, me or Patrick (Swayze). We were all just blindsided by it.
TRIBUNE: To further speak of the ‘She’s Like the Wind’ track, what are some of your favorite memories of you and Patrick working together on this song? STACY W: The song was recorded for the film almost a year before the movie came out. So, emotionally and intellectually, the movie was really off my radar…I got paid a little bit of money for it and I moved onward. I still remember him (Patrick) coming over to my apartment. We lived around the block from each other in Los Angeles for the first few years that I was living in LA, and that’s how we became friends. We first met in Patrick’s acting class. I was writing music for television at the time, and my girlfriend was a great singer and also a writer. One day, Patrick called me up and said, ‘You know, I’ve had this idea for a song.’ They were looking for songs for this other film that he was working on. He said, ‘Do you want to work on the song with me?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, sure!’ I still remember him sitting on my couch in my apartment with his guitar. I was at the piano, and his brother-in-law Paul was asleep in a rocking chair in my living room. I still can picture that scene.”
TRIBUNE: And as they say, the rest was golden music history. But there is the creative, musical side of you, and then there’s also the community leadership side of you. You are involved with so many boards here in the Nashville area, and you’re also the Vice Mayor in Oak Hill, Tennessee. Tell us about some of your community work. STACY W: Well, Leadership Music is a great organization that I graduated from in 2007, and I was asked to join their board in 2010, and then spent five years on the board… I’m the current board president, which is a real honor. It’s just a great organization, it was a life-changing experience going through that program, and even today so is my orientation for the new class of Leadership Nashville, which is also a very big deal too…But the political thing happened with me because we had a big fight here in Oak Hill against commercial developments about four years ago. I got very involved in that fight. So, when the anti-commercial developing side came up, I also won that fight and was asked to join the planning commission…And so, here I am now, currently the Vice Mayor of the city of Oak Hill, TN.”
TRIBUNE: So, do you think that one day you might just run for a full-fledged political office? STACY W: It’s possible. I always have that floating in the back of my mind somewhere. I’ve been on the Board of Commissioners for three years here in Oak Hill, so we’ll see how I feel at the end of that.”
TRIBUNE: I understand that you’re involved in working with Cuban artists here in the Nashville area. STACY W: It’s not so much the Cuban artists here. I’m involved with an organization out of Washington D.C. called ‘Engage Cuba.’ I’m on their Tennessee advisory council. It’s a lobbying organization that’s dedicated to getting the embargo lifted once and for all, because even though we had restrictions in certain ways, and that’s been dialed back, lifting the embargo has to be an act of Congress. So, they’re trying to build the bipartisan support to get that done. So, myself and a couple of arts leaders in town had the idea of maybe forming a sister city relationship between Nashville and Havana, specifically in the arts. I’ve been to Havana a couple of times, and they’re known for their music just as Nashville is, but just like Nashville, it also has a very vibrant classical music scene, the visual arts are unbelievable there too. So, we were trying to get some momentum going with that, but now we’re kind of holding back until we see exactly what Congress and the Senate do with these latest restrictions.”