Sandy Mason with Garth Brooks

Locals honor legacy of former Ormond Beach songwriter who worked with Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash

A play featuring her biggest hits like 'Two Piña Coladas' will be performed at the Elks Lodge Jan. 24.
By: 
Jan. 7, 2017

When Rick Shaw moved to Ormond Beach a few years ago, his cousin Sandy Mason paid him a visit. They were walking down his street when the songwriter noticed a house with for sale sign. 

"She said, 'I think I'll buy that,'" Rick Shaw recalled. "And then she bought it in a matter of days." 

Though her life and career ended with Ormond Beach, it was a colorful and crazy road to get Sandy Mason here. Originally from Pennsylvania, Mason started out singing in the supper clubs of Chicago, and was even on TV as a ventriloquist. She had her variety show where she would introduce cartoons. Shaw would watch her every Saturday morning. 

Eventually, she started working for a publishing company writing songs. In 1967, her single “There You Go,” released on Hickory Records, peaked at No. 64. She released songs for other labels, contributed background vocals and released several of her own albums, but she found her greatest success as a songwriter. Her first success being Crystal Gayle’s “When I Dream,” that hit No. 3 on the country charts in 1979.  The song was recorded by Nanci Griffith and Willie Nelson. 

Her biggest hit was “Two Pina Coladas,” which was recorded by Garth Brooks for his album “Sevens” and it topped the charts in late 1997. According to an article by The Tennesseean, songwriter Shawn Camp said they came up with the song after they began joking about going to the beach and buying a drink for each hand.

“Sandy was always talking about going to Florida,” Camp said in the 2015 article. “I guess she finally made it.”

That was the only song Mason wrote that was inspired by Ormond Beach. Shaw says her song, "They Were Here Today," was inspired by the Fairchild Oak, one of the largest live oak trees in the South located in Bulow Creek State Park. 

"She wrote that after spending some time there," Shaw said. "She had wondered what all it had seen." 

Mason died in April 2015 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. She left her house and her publishing company to Shaw, who is making it his mission to preserve her legacy. 

"She just wanted people to hear her songs," said Shaw's mother, Barbara Shaw. 

That's why Shaw created and produced, "Just A Dream: The Music and Artistry of Sandy Mason," a musical about her unique career. It features music from the 1960s supper clubs through the rise of the Nashville music scene of the 80s and 90s, and stars Candice Cuchetti and the Just a Dream Band.

"She felt that music was a way people could escape from reality and dream a little bit," Shaw said. "This is the song track of her life."

The play will open at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Elks Lodge 2193, 285 Wilmette Ave. Tickets cost $15.