Hughes & Coleman Hometown Hero: Dan Modlin

Dan Modlin is a local songwriter that is well-known in Bowling Green and Nashville, bringing new and old fans to visit Bowling Green to hear his music.
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 5:41 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Dan Modlin is a local songwriter that is well-known in Bowling Green and Nashville.

He started his career in news at WKU Public Radio as a news director for 23 years. During that time, he was going down to Nashville to play at the Blue Bird Cafe where he met other singers/songwriters and developed his circle of influential musical colleagues.

Modlin is also an organizer of the Songwriters Round at Lost River Cave, where he got to know the Knepler family and the story of 15-year-old Davey Albright.

“Our grandson was killed in a backyard accident up in Louisville. When our daughter decided to take him off of life support, she came up with the idea of donating anything that was recoverable, and his donation benefitted over 90 people,” said Lyn Knepler.

It was in 2020 when Lyn approached Dan after a performance at Lost River Cave to ask if he would consider writing a song about organ donation.

“I guess I was surprised a little bit. It’s not a subject most people think about writing a song about,” Modlin said.

Modlin considered the idea and spent the next few weeks crafting the song that would become “Sara gets a second chance.”

He premiered the song, about an organ donation recipient, live at the Songwriters Round in the River Birch Room at Lost River Cave to a crowd that immediately fell in love with the story of the song.

“I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to perform it all the way through without breaking down,” Modlin said. “I was relieved when I finished it just because I didn’t break down.”

With the encouragement of his fellow musicians, he published the song and continues performing it at his shows.

Modlin admits that even after countless performances of the song, the emotions behind it are just as strong as they were the first time.

During a trip to Pasadena, California, the Kneplers played the song for the team decorating the Donate Life float for the Rose Parade. Those decorators, also affected by organ and tissue donation, instantly fell in love with the song. Its popularity spread as it was quickly shared among friends and families around the world.

The popularity of the song has garnered attention from organizations interested in learning how the song came to be.

“A lot of people that have expressed interest in doing an interview on it and wanting to put it on a website and that sort of thing are people who the song was shared to them by somebody else. It shows you the power of sharing things,” said Modlin.

The authenticity and emotional weight of the song has brought new fans to Dan’s music and visitors to Bowling Green to hear his music. Music that has brought comfort and healing to countless people that he loves creating.

“It’s just the music, I just love it. The whole creative process keeps you going,” Modlin said.