Big Rapids businessman uses music to give back

BIG RAPIDS — He’s a quadruple creative threat: singer, songwriter, guitarist and author. But those in the greater Big Rapids area may know him best from his day-to-day work as a financial adviser.

Daniel S. Terry has been a broker with Edward Jones in Big Rapids for over 30 years. But at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 11, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, he will enter his second profession, performing songs he has written over the years as part of the 2022 Arts Festival.

“I call it ‘a fool on a stool,’ just me and my guitar and my voice,” Terry said. “I’ll probably sing 20 or 30 original songs, probably for an hour and a half to two hours.”

Many of these songs will be taken from her recently released album, “At Alice’s Restaurant”, a track close to her heart.

“It was a restaurant that was a fast food joint in my hometown of Kewanee, Illinois that I wrote poetry and lyrics at when I was 10,” he said. “My older sister Peggy, who is six years older than me, threw a party when I was 10. Someone left a Guild guitar. I bought a tuning fork and a Beatles book and learned to play.

“A few years later my mother passed away and I started writing music.”

Terry continued to write through high school and college, then “went through a creative wilderness for 25 years”.

Arts Festival: Daniel S. Terry in concert

  • When: 7 p.m. on Friday, February 11
  • Where: Immanuel Lutheran Church, 726 Fuller Ave.
  • The concerts are free. Mandatory face masks.

He started writing again seven years ago when he experienced another life-changing event.

“I got divorced,” he explained. “My wife wasn’t really in love with my music.”

Encouragement came from an unusual place.

“I started dating after my divorce, I met this lady online who was a concert pianist,” he said. “She got Grammy nominations, and she said, ‘You really are a lyricist, and you should write a book,’ and I was like, ‘I think you’re absolutely bonkers.'”

But after his siblings confirmed his assessment, he did.

“And then my friends in Nashville say, ‘What the hell are you doing writing a book? You should save here,” he said.

Within six months, he released a book, “Heart Tones: Song Lyrics & Music 2017-2021,” which was released in August, and released an album, “At Alice’s Restaurant,” which was released this month.

Terry’s musical styles fall under the genre of Americana music.

“Friends of mine say it’s a cross between Alison Krauss and maybe a little Jackson Browne and James Taylor,” Terry said.

And his Nashville connection sparked another business.

“I have this West Michigan Songwriters Festival where I bring in several songwriters from Nashville and we have a workshop to teach people who want to learn how to write music,” he said. declared.

The first workshop took place in September, and a second is scheduled for April 30. Participating songwriters have written for Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, Luke Bryan, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Darius Rucker, Trisha Yearwood and Little Big Town. , according to the festival website,


For Terry, a second career as a musician gives him the opportunity to help others, which he has been doing for years. Shortly after moving to Big Rapids, he said, he started a foundation to fund scholarships. Later, he established the Edward Jones West Michigan Scholarship Fund.

“Between the two, we helped educate the equivalent of 108 years of education for people,” he said.

He hopes to be able to fund a new scholarship solely from the copyrights of his songs and books.

“The intention is to help educate children for the next 15 years to the tune of about $1.5 million, to have nothing out of my own pocket, to have it all come from book sales, book sales of CDs and the West Michigan Songwriter Festival.” he said. “Now I’m probably going to have to do some fundraising, but I want to do it with music and the creative arts instead of my financial portfolio, or so that’s the intention.”

Despite Terry’s hope of funding his scholarships solely through his music and writing, none of them are related to the arts.

“If you want to change someone’s life, teach them something. Give them this opportunity to do better. Give them the skills that will help that man or woman have a great life,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun when it’s not about you.”

While next Friday’s concert for the Arts Festival is Terry’s first, he says he’s been singing for clients at Edward Jones for years.

“I have this song that I wrote after one of my clients’ spouses died after 60 years of marriage, and it’s called ‘I’ve got a plan for heaven,'” he said. he declares. “It’s just a fabulous song, so I sent it to them.”

Another client inspired him to write a song which he titled “She Couldn’t Remember”.

“She got Alzheimer’s disease and just recently died,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of phenomenal people in my life who give me great content for new songs,” he continued. “At the end of the day, if I do my job as a good songwriter, I can help someone find their soul.”

For more information on Daniel S. Terry, visit, follow him on and or search Daniel S Terry on YouTube.