ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons has two Grammy nominations, sixteen Top 10 singles, over 50 million albums sold, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Scott and Paul catch up with him to discuss his legendary classic rock catalog, including "La Grange," "Tush," "Cheap Sunglasses," "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Legs," and many more.
The Golden Globe winner joins us to chat about his bands Ima Robot (known for the Suits theme song "Greenback Boogie") and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (which Rolling Stone recognized for releasing one of the Top 10 Best Albums of the Year). Plus, Alex reflects on adding film composer to his resume, and the process of creating his eclectic new solo album, I vs. I.
Top 5 singles from Ed Hill’s catalog include "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" for Reba, “Runnin’ Behind” and “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” for Tracy Lawrence, “Be My Baby Tonight” for John Michael Montgomery, “It Matters to Me” for Faith Hill, “Whatever You Say” for Martina McBride, “Songs About Me” for Trace Adkins, “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls” for George Strait, and “Most People Are Good” for Luke Bryan. He's earned a Best Country Song Grammy nomination and was named 200
Grammy nominee and neo-soul singer songwriter Allen Stone, described by USA Today as "a pitch perfect powerhouse" joins us to chat about what he does to force himself to write songs; what happened when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis invited him to collaborate; why he tried not to fall in love with his now-wife; and the reason he says most pop music today has been dumbed down.
Featuring Chris Butler, who wrote the new-wave holiday classic "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, Randy Brooks, who penned the always-polarizing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” Chris Eaton, who wrote Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven,” and Songwriters Hall of Famer Paul Williams, who is best known for “Rainbow Connection,” but who also wrote all the songs for The Muppet Christmas Carol.
The Golden Globe and Grammy nominee whose self-titled debut release was named one of the 100 Best Albums of the Eighties by Rolling Stone joins us to chat about his wide-ranging career, from self-penned hits as an artist such as “Someday Someway,” to co-writing the Top 10 hit "Til I Hear it from You" with the Gin Blossoms, to writing the theme for the parody film Walk Hard.
The Afrojack, P!nk, and Kesha collaborator explains why he dropped out of Berkeley to write songs; the reason his first few years in Los Angeles were rough; how his debut international hit was born when an artist didn't show up for their writing session; the time Lady Antebellum let him down; the song he wrote with Kesha the first day the met; why he cried while recording with P!nk; and which of the Songcraft questions gave him goosebumps.
The 2-time Grammy nominee Eric Clapton called “one of the great singer-songwriters” joins us to talk about his 1970s classic "On and On," writing hits like the Oscar-winning “Separate Lives” for Phil Collins, and the unexpected rootsy influences on his new album. Plus, he explains why his stepdad forbid him from playing guitar in the house; why he didn't like Barbra Streisand's version of his song; how he ended up getting his guitar smashed in Animal House; and why good songwriting requires heartbre
Five-time Grammy winner Marty Stuart discusses what he learned from Johnny Cash about the craft of songwriting; the three people he considers THE standard of country songwriting; the album that cost him a record deal, a band, a manager, and a publicist; how a photo of Louis Armstrong gave him a sense of mission for his band; why his greatest songwriting motivation is a deadline; and the reason he used to send Harlan Howard and Ralph Mooney $100 at the start of every year.
Alice Randall, a Harvard-educated novelist, professor, and songwriter, is the only African-American woman to have written a #1 country hit. She joins us to talk about how she concluded that country lyrics are the modern day equivalent of 17th Century Puritan sermons; the reason that Steve Earle cussed her out; why it's harder to be a woman in country music than to be black; and her theory that country music should be defined as three chords and four specific truths.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Rodney Crowell joins Scott to chat about a remarkable career that has yielded classic songs such as “Til I Gain Control Again,” “I Ain’t Living Long Like This,” “Ashes By Now,” “After All This Time,” and “Shame on the Moon.”
Pulled from deep in our archives, we present the long-lost final interview with two-time Grammy nominee and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Curly Putman, who wrote "Green, Green Grass of Home," "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "My Elusive Dreams," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," and many others.
Kendell Marvel built his career as a behind-the-scenes songwriter for Gary Allan, Chris Stapleton, Jake Owen, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton, and George Strait before reinventing himself as a gritty Southern troubadour and making an album with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.
The sixteen-time Grammy nominee and three-time winner joins us to talk about why reading is more important than listening to records; the book Townes Van Zandt loaned him that transformed his view of writing; the concert that inspired Steve to write "Guitar Town;" what he really thinks of the "Copperhead Road" line-dancing phenomenon; the first song he wrote after a long period of drug addiction and homelessness; and who he says is THE badass country singer/songwriter in Nashville today.
The three-time Grammy winner, two-time ACM Songwriter of the Year, and star of NBC's Songland joins us to talk about a few of his 40 #1 hits, including "Mama's Broken Heart," "American Kids," "Vice," "Body Like a Back Road," and more. Plus, Shane goes deep on his collaborations with Kacey Musgraves and contemplates the tricky balance between critical and commercial success. He also reveals who he calls his favorite singer of all time and which of his songs he suspects other songwriters don’t like.
Matthew Sweet joins us to unpack his process of writing power pop gems like "Girlfriend," "The Ugly Truth," "Sick of Myself" and many others. Plus, we get the lowdown on how a postcard from Michael Stipe altered his musical future; why he says being a solo artist is lonely; what happened when he suggested that he and Susanna Hoffs write an album together; and the song he collaborated on with a Saturday Night Live legend that led to another SNL legend covering one of his very earliest recordings.
Buddy Cannon, the frequent Willie Nelson collaborator, award-winning producer, and co-writer of the CMA and ACM Song of the Year "Give It Away," joins us to talk about getting his first four cuts in two days; how his first charting single became a #1 hit; why he had to tell Kenny Chesney he couldn't produce his early albums; the time he freaked out when his musical hero called him on the phone; and how he and Willie Nelson only co-write via text message.
Best known as one half of the legendary folk rock duo Indigo Girls, Grammy award winner Emily Saliers joins us to discuss her remarkable career; why she would change the opening line of her best-known song if she were writing it today; the criticism that most plagued Indigo Girls when they were starting out; how she tries to stretch herself by writing material that might not come as naturally; why she's always dreamed of having a country artist cover one of her songs; and her fierce love of hip hop!
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee who’s been called The Father of Nashville Rock talks about a successful career that’s seen his songs covered by everyone from Martina McBride to The Beatles. From "Soldier of Love" to "Everlasting Love" to recording as "Alvin" with the Chipmunks to what he really thought of U2's interpretation of his classic song, Buzz dives deep on a fascinating and varied career.
The Grammy nominee and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer joins us to talk about “Rub It In” (Billy "Crash" Craddock), "Way Down" (Elvis Presley), “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” (Reba McEntire), and his new memoir, Permission to Fly.
The two-time Grammy nominee and alt.country pioneer joins us to discuss his career as an eclectic and fiercely independent singer songwriter; why he never moved to Nashville; how he got a record deal by writing a manifesto; the song he wrote for his celebrity crush; the concept album he never made; the insider details he learned from Tom Brumley; and which of his songs he doesn't want to play anymore. Plus, Robbie performs live and acoustic!
CMA and ACM Song of the Year winner Larry Weiss chats about his amazing career from the Brill Building to "Bend Me Shape Me" to "Hi Ho Silver Lining" to "Rhinestone Cowboy" and more. Plus, up-and-comer Jenny Tolman stops by to preview her cool new record!
The Motown legend behind "Dancing in the Street," "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," "It Takes Two," "Devil with a Blue Dress On," and "Beechwood 4-5789" opens up about his life and career, including why he almost stormed out of his first meeting with Berry Gordy; how he assembled Motown’s legendary Funk Brothers; the trick he used to convince Marvin Gaye to ditch jazz and become an R&B singer; and why “Dancing in the Street” was a message song -- but not the message many people think!
The two-time Grammy nominee and co-writer of Kelly Clarkson's global hit "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) reveals what happened when he played songs for Miles Davis over the phone; tells us why he says it's a good thing there are more writers on songs today than ever before; and explains how he partially inspired Kesha to ditch the guitars. Before the interview Scott and Paul talk about whether or not it's still OK to listen to Michael Jackson's music.
The San Francisco folkie who became a Nashville hitmaker with "Life's a Dance," "Don't Laugh at Me," "I Think About You," Grown Men Don't Cry" and more! Steve talks about how Morgan Freeman inspired one of his biggest hits; the reason his future was altered when his publishing company ran out of coffee cups; what every writer should do to prepare for a co-writing session; and the song he wrote that changed the course of his life more than any other.
Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Smokey Robinson talks about his Motown legacy and his string of timeless hits, including "My Girl," “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “My Guy,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “Cruisin’,” and more!
With over a dozen Top 5 singles on the Billboard country chart, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Tim Nichols has scored with songs such as “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “The Man I Want to Be,” and "Live Like You Were Dying." Scott and Paul get on the phone with Tim to find out why he says the story of his career is a cross between Forest Gump and Lemony Snicket; how Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes led to his big break; and how he looks back now on the day that he wrote THAT classic song.
Songwriters Hall of Famer, half of the legendary Ashford & Simpson, and one of Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time chats about "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "I'm Every Woman," "Solid," and more of her many hits!
A conversation with the Grammy winner, Oscar winner, and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee behind "Rainbow Connection," "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)," the "Love Boat" theme, plus songs recorded by Elvis, Ray Charles, Daft Punk, and many more!
Four writers discuss their holiday hits: William Bell ("Every Day Will be Like a Holiday"), Tia Sillers ("A Joyful Noise" by Jo Dee Messina), Robert Earl Keen ("Merry Christmas From the Family"), and Paul Duncan ("Light of the World" by Lauren Daigle)
The Grammy-winning songwriter behind “There’s Your Trouble” (Dixie Chicks), “I Hope You Dance” (Lee Ann Womack), and “That’d Be Alright” (Alan Jackson) talks about her heartbreaking personal losses, her professional triumphs, and how they’ve all worked together to make her the person and songwriter she is today.
Chris stops by to chat about why he calls his musical background a “dog’s breakfast;” what his music teacher told him that blew his mind about songwriting; the reason he doesn’t like Eddie Vedder’s voice; what happened creatively when vocal cord paralysis kept him from being able to sing for many months; what he really thinks about playing “Two Princes” every night; and why, when he was talking to us, he really wanted to be standing on the arm of the couch howling and waving his underwear over
Mike stops by Songcraft World Headquarters to talk about the outside-the-box method he used to build an early following among college students; why he devoted himself to learning to play piano and guitar AFTER he'd scored a major hit; the reason he hates having a coffee table in the recording studio; why he originally told Adam Levine that Maroon 5 couldn't have "Sugar;"and the surprising ways that Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, Jr. inspired "I Took a Pill in Ibiza;" PLUS a live acoustic performance!
Kinky Friedman reveals who he believes deserves credit for starting country music's outlaw movement; what Waylon Jennings said when he saw Kinky walking down the street with his laundry; how he ended up receiving the Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year Award from the National Organization for Women; the way Nelson Mandela embraced one of his songs; the advice Willie Nelson gave him that changed his life; the reason he writes about Jesus so much; and why he says you've got to be miserable to write great songs.
Lamont talks about punching a time clock as a staff songwriter at Motown; what happened when Marvin Gaye forgot to learn "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" before the recording session; why Diana Ross was pissed off when she cut the vocals for "Where Did Our Love Go;" which of Lamont's classics came about as a result of getting caught in a compromising situation at a no-tell motel; the muse who inspired "Bernadette" and "I Hear a Symphony;" and a whole lot more!
Jeff gives the inside scoop on the early days of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band when Jackson Browne was playing kazoo; how he first got into writing songs when he was playing in Linda Ronstadt's backup band; why he didn't want his record label to release "Mr. Bojangles" as a single; the time Steve Goodman kicked his butt in racquetball with a chemo pump in his arm; and how it's possible that Jeff never met one of his "Bless the Broken Road" co-writers until they showed up at the Grammy awards together.
Scott and Paul call up Matraca to get the lowdown on how she ended up with her first hit after crashing Bobby Braddock's party and sneaking into his music room; why she begged Deana Carter NOT to release "Strawberry Wine" as her first single; which of her songs she believes was partially inspired by Harlan Howard from beyond the grave; and why she doesn't want to be in the room with the producer or artist the first time she hears their version of one of her songs.
Gary gives us the lowdown on how a chance meeting at a French castle led to writing more than two dozen songs with a Beatle; why he thinks growing up on show tunes made him a better country writer; how attending the Woodstock festival changed his life; the poignant true story of his father's death that unexpectedly became a hit song; the way he accidentally got Faith Hill a record deal; and how he went from country hitmaker to collaborating with Carole King, Kenny Loggins, and the American Idol team.
Mary Lambert stops by Songcraft World Headquarters to talk about how Jewel inspired her to start playing coffee houses at the age of 13; the year she went from performing to audiences of 15 people to the Grammy stage; why songwriting is her connection to God; the reason co-writing was very jarring to her; why she cried for six hours before Madonna wiped away her tears; and how a failed co-writing session with a runner-up from "The Voice" led to a very important relationship.
John stops by Songcraft World Headquarters to talk about how Disneyland became his musical proving ground; the "slightly devious" way he got Chris Hillman to co-found the Desert Rose Band; what he learned from watching Elton John write songs; why he turned down auditions to tour with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen; how he ended up collaborating with Rodney Crowell, JD Souther, Peter Frampton, and other greats; and how he became a Django Reinhardt disciple and the American master of gypsy jazz.
PART ONE Scott and Paul talk about Randy Poe, Texas, and their favorite songwriters from the Lone Star State. PART TWO - 20:52 mark Robert Earl Keen comes by Songcraft World Headquarters to chat about the Marty Robbins song that set him on his path as a kid; why he wants his songs to be provocative; the book Lyle Lovett gave him that jump started his career; what Steve Earle said that convinced Robert to move to Nashville; how having only $20 in his pocket led to writing his most classic song; which of his albums made him feel like he’d been accepted into the mainstream; and why he kept delaying making a bluegrass album. ABOUT ROBERT EARL KEEN Regarded as one of the purest singer-songwriters in the Texas tradition, Robert Earl Keen is a true pioneer, and one of the most consistent practitioners of the Americana genre. While studying English at Texas A&M University, Keen linked up with fellow aspiring songwriter Lyle Lovett. The pair analyzed songs and worked on their craft together, writing tunes such as “Front Porch Song” which each included on his respective debut album. After the release of the West Textures album in 1989, Keen hit the road with songwriting giants Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. It was another Texan, Joe Ely, who recorded two of Robert’s songs on his highly lauded 1993 release Love and Danger that brought Keen to the attention of a wider audience. With a canon of classic songs that includes “The Road Goes on Forever,” “Corpus Christi Bay,” “Gringo Honeymoon,” and “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Keen built a diverse following that ranges from rowdy college kids to dyed-in-the-wool folkies. Live performance has been an important foundation of Keen’s artistry, as illustrated on the modern day classic live album No. 2 Live Dinner that was issued in 1996. With a dozen studio albums and seven live albums under his belt, Keen has continued to explore new musical ground with a string of charting albums that includes 2015’s Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions. Reaching the Top 10 on the country chart and #1 on the bluegrass rankings, Happy Prisoner demonstrates that Keen’s track record as an artist is just as strong as the respect his songs have earned from other performers. Those who’ve covered his material include Nanci Griffith, Eddy Raven, Kelly Willis, The Highwaymen, Jack Ingram, Montgomery Gentry, Shawn Colvin, Gillian Welch, and George Strait. In 2012, Robert Earl Keen was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer Mark D. Sanders gives the inside scoop on why he had trouble co-writing with people who had more success than he had; the co-writer who taught him he could have fun and write a song at the same time; his battles with severe depression; the demo singer he credits with boosting his career; the famous song that inspired the chord progression of "I Hope You Dance;" and the ethical reason he decided to walk away from commercial country music culture after decades of success.
EPISODE DETAILS: PART ONE Scott and Paul start the festivities off with a very important discussion about which artists carry their wallets on stage. PART TWO - 07:30 mark Scott and Paul call up Dennis, who reveals the major compliment he once got from Barry White; how the first song he ever co-wrote became a hit for Diana Ross; the shocking original lyrics for “Maniac” that were inspired by serial killer John Wayne Gacy; how an earthquake that totaled his house led to an important career change; why he isn’t necessarily proud of the story behind one of his major country hits; what he looks for in a co-writer; and how his early musical leanings were shaped by the two Philadelphias: Pennsylvania and Mississippi. ABOUT DENNIS MATKOSKY Dennis Matkosky is best known for co-writing “Maniac,” which was included on the Flashdance soundtrack and became a #1 pop single that earned Golden Globe, Academy Award, and Grammy nominations. Matkosky took home a Grammy award for Best Album of Original Score for a Motion Picture, and continued to find success for the next decade with Billboard charting singles recorded by pop, R&B, and Adult Contemporary artists such as Boz Skaggs, Smokey Robinson, Al Jarreau, Eddie Money, Chicago, and James Ingram. Dennis eventually relocated to Nashville, where he landed a Top 10 country hit with LeAnn Rimes’ recording of “I Need You” before going on to hit #1 with Keith Urban’s version of “You’ll Think of Me.” Other artists who’ve hit the country charts with his songs include Clay Aiken, Reba McEntire, Lonestar, Martina McBride, and David Nail, who hit the Top 10 with “Red Light.” The list of additional performers who’ve recorded Dennis’ songs includes Diana Ross, Sergio Mendes, Teddy Pendergrass, Johnny Gill, George Benson, Kool & the Gang, Laura Branigan, Sheena Easton, CeCe Winans, Joe Cocker, Rascal Flatts, and the cast of the hit television show Nashville.
EPISODE DETAILS: PART ONE In celebration of Father's Day Scott and Paul discuss the influence their dads had on their musical development. Plus, you'll hear a recording of Paul's late dad, Dr. Tom Duncan, singing his only known original song! PART TWO - 09:13 mark Woody Bomar's in-depth interview SYNOPSIS Scott sits down in Nashville with his dad to get the story about how one of Roy Orbison's bandmates became Woody's guardian angel; why he got shot at on the way to a gig; how he went from pitching Kris Kristofferson's songs to writing #1 hits of his own; why he signed a young teenager named Taylor Swift to her first publishing deal; the reason he says his first cut might actually be his last; and what inspired him to write an album's worth of songs about Route 66 after an exciting career working with country music's biggest names. ABOUT WOODY BOMAR Woody Bomar began his music career as a songwriter, landing two #1 hits with Conway Twitty’s “We Did But Now You Don’t” and Jim Glaser’s “You’re Getting to Me Again.” He hit the Top 20 with Loretta Lynn’s “Cheatin’ on a Cheater” and had songs recorded by Lee Greenwood, Lynn Anderson, TG Sheppard, Rhonda Vincent, Hank Williams, Jr., and others. Bomar eventually moved to the other side of the desk at Nashville’s Combine Music, where his duties included promoting the songs of Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Guy Clark, Tony Joe White, and others. Woody soon departed and teamed with business partner Kerry O’Neil to launch Little Big Town Music with former Combine writers John Scott Sherrill and Bob DiPiero. Serving as President and General Manager, Bomar would go on to sign a stable of songwriters that earned fifteen #1 hits, as well as thirty Top 10 singles and more than 500 major cuts by artists such as Faith Hill, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, Diamond Rio, Kenny Chesney, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield and Peter Frampton. Little Big Town was ultimately purchased by Sony/ATV, which hired Bomar as Senior Vice President and General Manager. During his eight year tenure with Sony, Woody signed Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner, Marty Stuart and Blake Shelton, and was instrumental in bringing Taylor Swift, Gretchen Wilson, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert to the company’s roster. In addition to the new signings, Woody worked with an existing catalog of songs by Tom Douglas, Dean Dillon, Rodney Crowell, Gretchen Peters, Bobby Braddock, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and many others. After departing Sony/ATV Woody launched his second independent publishing company, Green Hills Music Group, where he continues to advocate for great songwriters and secure recordings by artists such as George Strait, Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Hunter Hayes, and Hilary Scott of Lady Antebellum. Woody is a two-time recipient of The Nashville Songwriters Association’s President’s Award and is an inductee into the Middle Tennessee State University’s Mass Communications Wall of Fame.
Randy stops by Songcraft to talk about how The Guess Who got its name by accident; his Alex Trebek connection; how he bluffed his way into musical success; why his approach to songwriting is all about borrowing and re-purposing; the '60s band he thought was even better than The Beatles; what he spent all his money on instead of drugs; and the Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit that ripped off an Antonín Dvořák classical piece only to then be ripped off by The Doobie Brothers.
PART ONE Scott and Paul announce the five Patreon supporters who are getting signed copies of Billy Edd Wheeler's memoir. Then they fill you in on how you can snag one of two signed Beth Nielsen Chapman CDs for yourself! PART TWO - 02:45 mark The guys talk about cover songs that have become better known than their original versions. PART THREE - 12:34 mark Scott and Paul's in-depth conversation with Beth Nielsen Chapman Beth stops by Songcraft International Headquarters to chat about her new record; how a traumatic childhood field trip set her on a path of creative reflection; why one of her songs took 18 years to complete; the movie that inspired her to start writing songs again after she quit for four years; why a chance encounter with a Beach Boy inspired her to move to Nashville; how she got commissioned to write songs for Willie Nelson; the unusual way Trisha Yearwood discovered one of her songs and made it a hit; and how a song deeply personal song about losing her husband to cancer became an inspiration to Elton John. Singer/songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman is best known for co-writing “This Kiss,” a #1 country hit and Top 10 pop hit for Faith Hill that earned a CMA Song of the Year award. Other chart-topping hits from her catalog include Tanya Tucker’s “Strong Enough to Bend,” Willie Nelson’s “Nothing I Can Do About it Now,” Lorrie Morgan’s “Five Minutes,” Martina McBride’s “Happy Girl,” and Alabama’s “Here We Are,” which she co-wrote with Vince Gill. As an artist, Chapman has released a dozen albums and placed eight singles on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary charts, including “Walk My Way,” “All I Have,” and “I Keep Coming Back to You.” After her husband lost his battle with cancer, Beth worked through her grief by digging into an emotionally rich body of songs that includes “Sand and Water,” a song that was later covered by Elton John on his 1987 world tour. The long lists of artists who’ve recorded Beth’s material includes Neil Diamond, Michael McDonald, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Keb Mo, Trisha Yearwood, Waylon Jennings, The Indigo Girls, Don Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Jim Brickman who scored a #1 Adult Contemporary hit with her song “Simple Things.” The two-time Grammy nominee has been honored by The Alabama Music Hall Of Fame and was the recipient of The Distinguished Artist Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2009. She was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2016.
Songcraft heads over to Steve Dorff's house to get the inside scoop on why he sees color when he hears music; the reason that knowing how to write a great song is only half of songwriting success; what he did to make Dusty Springfield throw a chair at him; how he bluffed his way into film scoring; the time he wrote one of the most iconic TV show theme songs of all time in just 15 minutes; and why he hears Boys II Men in his head when George Strait sings one of his biggest hits.
PART ONE Scott and Paul pay tribute to a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member who recently passed away. PART TWO - 02:55 mark Like it or not, tax day is upon us! The guys each pick three of their favorite songs about money or taxes. PART THREE - 10:55 mark Scott and Paul's in-depth conversation with Bruce Sudano Bruce comes over to hang out with Scott and Paul at Songcraft world headquarters, where he explains how he hounded Tommy James into giving him a shot; why he says he became a "cocky self-assured arrogant jerk" before he figured out how to be a good songwriter; the reason "Bad Girls" was almost a Cher song; the controversy that erupted when Michael Jackson recorded his song; why Donna Summer went on "The Tonight Show" to help save Bruce's parents' marriage; how his 30 year love story with the disco queen influenced his songwriting; and why he thinks he might be at the end of a creative streak. Bruce Sudano is a Brooklyn-born songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist who first hit the scene when Tommy James and the Shondells recorded his “Ball of Fire” in 1969. He spent the better part of the next decade focusing on his own bands, Alive N Kickin’ and Brooklyn Dreams. The latter group collaborated with Donna Summer on “Bad Girls” and other songs, which led to a personal relationship between Bruce and Donna. The pair married in 1980 and remained together for 32 years until her untimely passing in 2012. The team of Sudano and Summer wrote “Starting Over Again,” which became a #1 country hit and Top 40 pop hit for Dolly Parton. In addition to his multiple Donna Summer cuts, Bruce has also had charting singles recorded by Jermaine and Michael Jackson, Robert Palmer, and Reba McEntire. Others who’ve recorded his songs include Tammy Wynette, Steve Wariner, Point of Grace, and Snoop Dogg. Bruce has released a half dozen solo albums, including his critically acclaimed 21st Century World in 2017.
Scott & Paul chat with the Yale-educated "hillbilly poet" about why he wishes Richie Havens hadn't covered his song at Woodstock; the advice Jerry Leiber gave him about how to write lyrics; why he felt like a "man without a country" while appealing to both commercial country audiences and playing at the Newport Folk Festival; the time he picked up the phone to discover Elvis on the other end of the line; and a big revelation about which "Jackson" the iconic song actually refers to.
Grammy winner Tony Banks is the co-founder and keyboardist of Genesis, which helped define prog rock in the ‘70s with lead singer Peter Gabriel and emerged as a pop powerhouse in the ‘80s after drummer Phil Collins took over the lead vocalist role. Banks and Mike Rutherford were the only two musicians who were members of the band throughout Genesis’ entire history from the late 1960s through the early 2000s. He is a co-writer of Genesis classics, including “The Knife,” “The Musical Box,” “Supper’s Ready,” “Firth of Fifth,” “Follow You Follow Me,” “No Reply at All,” “That’s All,” “Invisible Touch,” “Throwing it All Away,” “Land of Confusion,” “Tonight Tonight Tonight,” “In Too Deep,” “No Son of Mine,” “I Can’t Dance,” and “Hold On My Heart.” In addition to releasing five solo albums, Banks began scoring films in the late 1970s, including a British horror movie called The Shout, a science fiction film entitled Starship, and Quicksilver, staring Kevin Bacon. It was his work on the Faye Dunaway film The Wicked Lady that first exposed Banks to working with an orchestra, reigniting his long time love for classical music. In 2004 he released Seven: A Suite for Orchestra, which featured the London Philharmonic and marked the start of a series of classical albums. The most recent is simply titled Five. As a member of Genesis, Banks has sold over 21 million albums in the US alone. He received a Prog God Award at the Progressive Music Awards in 2015, and was named among MusicRadar’s “greatest keyboard players of all time” in 2011. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and Mike Rutherford in 2010.
Best known as the writer and performer of “American Pie,” Don McLean and his songs have hit the Billboard pop, country, and adult contemporary charts nearly twenty times. Staples of his catalog include “Vincent (Starry Starry Night),” which hit #12 in the US and landed at the top of the UK chart; “Castles in the Air,” which charted twice with different versions in 1971 and 1981; and “And I Love You So,” which was covered by Bobby Goldsboro, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Glen Campbell and Elvis Presley. McLean’s compositions have been covered by Madonna, Fred Astaire, James Blake, Chet Atkins, Garth Brooks, George Michael, Harry Connick Jr., Josh Groban, Ed Sheeran, and others. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the BBC Folk Music Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. “American Pie” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 and was named one of the Top 5 Songs of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. McLean has recorded nineteen studio albums. His most recent is Botanical Gardens.
Bob DiPiero has written 15 #1 hits, including “Southern Voice” for Tim McGraw, “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” for Montgomery Gentry, “Blue Clear Sky” for George Strait, “Daddy’s Money” for Ricochet, “The Church on Cumberland Road” for Shenandoah, “Money in the Bank” for John Anderson, “Little Rock” for Reba McEntire, and “American Made” for The Oak Ridge Boys. Neal McCoy’s recording of his song “Wink” stayed at #1 for 4 weeks in 1994 and was named BMI’s most performed country song of the year. Other highlights from DiPiero’s catalog include Faith Hill’s “Take Me As I Am,” Reba McEntire’s “Till You Love Me,” George Strait’s "Cowboys Like Us" and Vince Gill’s “Worlds Apart, which was named Song of the Year at the Country Radio Music Awards in 1997. Other artists who’ve recorded Bob’s songs include Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Rhett Akins, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless, The Mavericks, Marty Stuart, Darius Rucker, Etta James, Martina McBride, Neil Diamond, Trace Adkins, Steve Wariner, Lonestar, Tracy Byrd, Sunny Sweeney, Easton Corbin, Toby Keith, and Little Feat with Bob Seger. Bob received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his song “Coming Home,” which Gwyneth Paltrow performed for the film Country Strong. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007, was named Songwriter of the Year at the Nashville Music Awards in 1998, and received the prestigious BMI Icon award in 2017.
Four-time Grammy nominee Matthew West’s major label debut album, Happy, brought him to national attention in 2004, earning him five Dove award nominations, including Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year, Song of the Year for the single “More,” and New Artist of the Year. He has gone on to score nearly twenty Top 10 hits on Billboard’s US Christian chart, including Dove award Song of the Year nominee “Only Grace,” “You Are Everything,” “The Motions,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song, “Strong Enough,” “Forgiveness,” which was another Grammy nominee for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, “Hello My Name Is,” and “Grace Wins,” which reached #1 status for a record-setting 17 weeks at Christian radio. He has written songs for other artists, including Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and Casting Crowns, who earned Matthew yet another Best Contemporary Christian Music Song Grammy nomination for “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” He has been named ASCAP’s Christian Music Songwriter of the Year multiple times, earned the Best Contemporary Inspirational Artist honor from the American Music Awards in 2013, won a Billboard Music Award for Top Christian Song in 2014, and was named Billboard’s Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year in 2016. Additionally, he received a Primetime Emmy award nomination for Original Music & Lyrics for “The Heart of Christmas” from the film of the same name. His latest studio album is All In on Sparrow Records.
Though he is now a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, the British-born Roger Cook began his career in the UK, first making a splash on the US charts with The Fortunes’ Top 10 hit recording of “You’ve Got Your Troubles.” Additional US singles in that era included the Top 10 hits “Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman,” by Whistling Jack Smith, and “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” by The Fortunes. In 1972 Cook scored with two different versions of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” an international hit that began as a groundbreaking commercial jingle for Coca-Cola before becoming a successful single for The Hillside Singers and then The New Seekers. Later that year he topped the charts with The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress).” He and longtime songwriting partner Roger Greenaway were named British Songwriters of the Year two years in a row for 1971 and 1972 at the Ivor Novello awards in the the UK. In the mid-1970s, Cook moved to Nashville, where he found success with a string of #1 hits, including BMI Country Song of the Year “Talking in Your Sleep” for Crystal Gayle, “I Believe in You” for Don Williams, and “Love is on a Roll,” a song co-written with John Prine that became another #1 for Williams. Additional chart-topping hits include ASCAP Country Song of the Year “One Night at a Time” and “I Just Want to Dance With You,” both #1 singles for George Strait. Roger’s songs have been recorded by The Drifters, Frankie Valli, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, John Prine, Sonny & Cher, Chet Atkins, Nancy Wilson, Bette Midler, Petula Clark, Brenda Lee, Clint Black, Amy Grant, Reba McEntire, and others. He is a Grammy nominee, ACM nominee, three-time CMA Song of the Year nominee, and the only British inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Additionally, he and Roger Greenaway were inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
A legendary recording artist and songwriter for the Memphis–based Stax label, William Bell first found success with his own recording of “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” a song that would go on to be covered by Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Byrds, and others. He found chart success in the ‘60s and ‘70s with additional self-penned singles, such as the Top 20 hits “Everybody Loves a Winner,” “A Tribute to a King,” “Private Number,” and “Tryin’ to Love Two,” which hit #1 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart. His Top 10 R&B hit “I Forgot to Be Your Lover” went on to be covered by Billy Idol as the Top 10 pop hit, “To Be a Lover,” and was reinvented once again when Jaheim sampled it in “Put That Woman First,” a Top 5 R&B hit and Top 20 pop hit in 2004. In 2016 Bell returned to the re-formed Stax label to release This Is Where I Live, an album of primarily original songs that featured William’s own interpretation of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which was originally recorded by Albert King and went on to become a blues standard that was named one of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll” by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A partial list of artists who’ve recorded titles from the William Bell songbook includes Lou Rawls, Percy Sledge, Big Mama Thornton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Etta James, LaVern Baker, Dusty Springfield, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Melissa Etheridge, Robert Cray, and Sturgill Simpson. Additionally, his songs have been sampled by Ludacris, Kanye West, and others. Bell was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He was honored with the R&B Pioneer Award by The Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the W.C. Handy Heritage Award from the Memphis Music Foundation. In 2016 the Americana Music Association honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year he earned his first Grammy award for This Is Where I Live, which was named Americana Album of the Year.
Launching her career with the Front Porch String Band in the 1970s, Claire Lynch went on to release solo material before ultimately assembling her own Claire Lynch Band. Dolly Parton calls Claire “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.” She has received over twenty nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association, winning a half dozen of their awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year in 1997, 2010, and 2013. Her song “Dear Sister” was named the IBMA's 2014 Song of the Year. She was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and has been nominated for three Grammy awards for Best Bluegrass album, most recently for her 2016 release North By South. In addition to her own recordings, Claire’s songs have been covered by a long list of bluegrass and folk artists, including The Seldom Scene, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, and The Whites.
Paul and Scott catch up with Jose Feliciano to find out why "Feliz Navidad" was written in July; chat with "Santa Baby" composer Phil Springer to hear the reason he was hesitant to write the world's first "sexy Christmas song;" get the scoop from Mike Stoller about Elvis recording "Santa Claus is Back in Town" when the song was less than an hour old; find out from former Ray Charles backup singer Mable John what the movie "Christmas Vacation" did for Ray's recording of her song "That Spirit of Christmas;" talk to Mark Lowry about how "Mary Did You Know?" went from a recitation in a local church play to a contemporary Christmas standard; listen to former Motown staff writer Bryan Wells explain why his "Someday at Christmas" is as relevant today as it was when Stevie Wonder first released it more than 50 years ago; and find out how TV producer Lee Mendelson became an accidental songwriter when it was time to add lyrics to "Christmas Time is Here" from "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Jose Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad” (1970) A true international superstar, virtuoso guitarist and celebrated vocalist Jose Feliciano found fame in the US with his hugely successful Feliciano album in 1968. He earned a Top 5 hit with his interpretation of The Doors’ “Light My Fire” that same year and has gone on to win seven Grammy awards. “Feliz Navidad” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was named by ASCAP as one of the most performed holiday songs of all time. Philip Springer – “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt (1953) At 91 years old, Phil Springer is one of the last living composers from the pre-rock “Brill Building” era of professional songwriters. In addition to writing the music for “Santa Baby,” Springer penned Frankie Laine’s Top 5 hit “Moonlight Gambler,” Frank Sinatra’s “How Little it Matters, How Little We Know,” and Cliff Richard’s “The Next Time,” which hit #1 in the UK in 1963. Additionally, he wrote songs that have been recorded by Judy Garland, Dusty Springfield, and Elvis Presley. Mike Stoller – “Santa Clause is Back in Town” by Elvis Presley (1957) One of the key architects of rock and R&B songwriting, Mike Stoller is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. His long list of writing credits with partner Jerry Leiber includes “Kansas City,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me,” “Poison Ivy,” “Love Potion No. 9,”and more than 20 titles recorded by Elvis, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and the perennial “Santa Clause is Back in Town.” Mable John – “That Spirit of Christmas” by Ray Charles (1985) Best remembered from the sentimental attic scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “That Spirit of Christmas” was co-written by Mable John. She is Little Willie John’s younger sister and was the first female solo artist signed to Motown’s Tamla label in the 1950s. She would go on to score a Top 10 hit as a Stax artist with “Your Good Thing (Is About to End)” and serve as the leader of Ray Charles’ backing singers, The Raelettes, for more than a decade. Mark Lowry – “Mary Did You Know” (1991) Though he spent eighteen years as a member of the legendary Gaither Vocal Band and has released nearly twenty albums and, Dove award winning Christian singer and comedian Mark Lowry is best known to mainstream audiences as the co-writer of “Mary Did You Know.” The song was first recorded in 1991 by Michael English, who was a fellow member of the Gaither Vocal Band at the time. It would go on to be recorded by Natalie Cole, Reba McEntire, Glen Campbell, Jessica Simpson, Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Pentatonix, and many others. Bryan Wells – “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder (1966) Former Motown staff writer Bryan Wells co-wrote Stevie Wonder’s Top 10 hits “A Place in the Sun” and “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday.” He has earned four Clio Awards for music he has composed for advertising campaigns and is Bette Midler’s former music director. Wells and partner Ron Miller co-wrote three songs on Stevie’s 1967 holiday album, including the title track, “Someday at Christmas” which has since been covered by The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Jack Johnson, Justin Bieber, and others. Lee Mendelson – “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)TV producer Lee Mendelson became a songwriter by default when he scrawled the lyrics for “Christmas Time is Here” on the back of an envelope to complete the opening scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was Mendelson who chose Vince Guaraldi to score the special, introducing generations of kids to jazz music. He went on to write additional songs for future Peanuts specials with collaborators including David Benoit.
Mississippi native Joshie Jo Armstead began her professional career as a vocalist, touring and recording as one of the original Ikettes behind Ike and Tina Turner. She later settled in New York City where she began working with the legendary duo of Ashford and Simpson, who first found major success as the songwriting trio of Ashford, Simpson and Armstead when Ray Charles’ recording of “Let’s Go Get Stoned” became a #1 hit. Soon after, Charles recorded their “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and Aretha Franklin hit the R&B Top 40 with “Cry Like a Baby.” After Ashford and Simpson went to Motown, Armstead relocated to Chicago where she launched Giant Productions and established herself as one of only a handful of female record label owners and producers in that era. There she scored Top 10 R&B hits with Syl Johnson’s “Come On Sock it to Me,” Ruby Andrews’ “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over),” Garland Green’s “Jealous Kind of Fella,” and Carl Carlton’s “Drop By My Place” while also releasing her own records as an artist for Giant Records and later Stax Records. As a vocalist she has worked and recorded with Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, BB King, Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach. As a writer she placed 16 songs on the R&B and pop charts. Her compositions have been recorded by a long list of artists, including James Brown, The Coasters, The Shirelles, Joe Cocker, Styx, Humble Pie, Joan Osborne, Ronnie Milsap, John Mayer, and others.
As an artist, Mel Tillis scored 36 Top 10 country hits between 1968 and 1984, including six #1s. But Tillis was writing hit songs long before he found success as an artist As a songwriter he hit the Top 20 an astounding 49 times, most often as the creator behind songs made famous by iconic artists such as Carl Smith, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Brenda Lee, Faron Young, Ricky Skaggs, and many others. His long list of songwriting successes includes "Burning Memories" and "Heart Over Mind" by Ray Price, "Detroit City" by Bobby Bare, "Honky Tonk Song" and "I Ain't Never" by Webb Pierce, "Mental Revenge" by Waylon Jennings, "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and Mel's own recording of "Sawmill." He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976, the same year he was named the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year. He was named Comedian of the Year by the CMA six different times in the 1970s. In 1999 BMI named him the Country Songwriter of the Decade - for two decades! He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and became an official member of The Grand Ole Opry that same year. In 2012 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama for his contributions to country music.
After establishing himself as a college football star in Mississippi, Jim Weatherly moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. He eventually found success as a songwriter, and is best known for penning “Midnight Train to Georgia,” a #1 pop and R&B hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips that would go on to be named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and earn induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Gladys and her Pips recorded a dozen of Weatherly’s songs, including the Top 10 hits “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” “Where Peaceful Waters Flow,” “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” and “Love Finds Its Own Way.” It wasn’t uncommon for Jim to appear on both the pop and country charts simultaneously with different versions of the same song. Bob Luman scored a Top 10 country hit with “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” while Ray Price hit the top of the country chart with his version of “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Price would record nearly 40 Jim Weatherly songs, including the Top 5 hits “Like Old Times Again” and “Roses and Love Songs.” Thanks, in part, to Ray Price’s success, Jim was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1974. Additional hits from the Weatherly songbook include Charley Pride’s #1 single “Where Do I Put Her Memory,” Ed Bruce’s Top 5 hit “You Turn Me On (Like a Radio),” Glen Campbell’s Top 5, “A Lady Like You,” and Bryan White’s #1 single “Someone Else’s Star.” Other artists who’ve recorded Jim’s songs include Eddy Arnold, Reba McEntire, Dean Martin, Vince Gill, Etta James, Neil Diamond, Bill Anderson, Kenny Rogers, Hall & Oates, The Temptations, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Peter Cetera, and Angie Stone. As an artist, Jim earned a Top 10 pop hit with “Need to Be” and a Top 10 country hit with “I’ll Still Love You.” The Grammy nominee and Dove award winner was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.
Before he retired in the early 2000s, Bob McDill landed 152 hits on the Billboard country chart, more than any other songwriter in history. He hit theBillboard Top 10 an astounding 55 times, and 23 of those singles climbed all the way to #1. Many artists returned to the McDill songbook repeatedly, including Don Williams, who scored with the #1 hits “(Turn Out the Light And) Love Me Tonight,” “Say It Again,” “She Never Knew Me,” “Rake and Ramblin’ Man,” “It Must Be Love,” “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” and “If Hollywood Don’t Need You.” Mel McDaniel enjoyed four Top 10 hits written by Bob, including “Louisiana Saturday Night” and the #1 “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” Those who hit #1 at least twice with McDill compositions include Ronnie Milsap, with “Nobody Likes Sad Songs” and “Why Don’t You Spend the Night;” Doug Stone, with “In a Different Light” and “Why Didn’t I Think of That;” Alan Jackson, with “Gone Country” and his revival of “It Must Be Love;” and Dan Seals, who co-wrote several of his own hits with McDill, including the #1 songs “My Baby’s Got Good Timing,” “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold),” and “Big Wheels in the Moonlight.” Additionally, Bob wrote or co-wrote #1 singles such as “The Door is Always Open” by Dave and Sugar, “You Never Miss a Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye)” by Crystal Gayle, “Amanda” by Waylon Jennings, “We Believe in Happy Endings” by Earl Thomas Conley and Emmylou Harris, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley, “Song of the South” by Alabama, and “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” by Sammy Kershaw. In addition to multiple Top 5 singles such as Johnny Russell’s “Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer,” Ed Bruce’s “You Turn Me On (Like a Radio)," and Pam Tillis’s “All The Good Ones Are Gone,” Bob has penned Top 10 hits for Johnny Cash, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Bobby Bare, Mac Davis, Johnny Rodriguez, John Anderson, Mickey Gilley, Anne Murray, and Lee Roy Parnell. He has also written charting singles for Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, and both Duke Boys, Tom Wopat and John Schneider, with the latter taking Bob’s “I’ve Been Around Enough to Know” to #1. McDill was named Country Songwriter of the Year seven times between 1976 and 1994: three times each by the Nashville Songwriters Association and BMI, and once by ASCAP. Nine of his songs were nominated for Song of the Year by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, or both organizations. The four time Grammy nominee earned ASCAP’s Golden Note Award, received the Academy of Country Music’s prestigious Poet’s Award, and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Siedah Garrett is best known as the co-writer, with Glen Ballard, of “Man in the Mirror,” a #1 worldwide pop hit recorded by Michael Jackson. The Southern California native launched her career with a group called Plush in the early 1980s before joining Deco, which was assembled by her mentor, legendary producer Quincy Jones. It was Jones who played “Man in the Mirror” for Michael Jackson. The King of Pop fell in love with the song and the voice on the demo tape. In addition to recording “Man in the Mirror,” Michael invited Siedah to be his duet partner on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” which was released as the first single from the Bad album and hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart. Siedah would go on to co-write “Keep the Faith” on Jackson’s Dangerous album and join him as a featured vocalist on the Dangerous world tour. As a backing vocalist, Siedah can be heard on recordings by Madonna, Sarah Vaughan, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Natalie Cole, Santana, Jessica Simpson, and others. As a featured artist she’s scored hits such as the chart-topping R&B duet “Don’t Look Any Further” with former Temptation Dennis Edwards and her solo Top 20 R&B single “K.I.S.S.I.N.G.” Beyond her work with Michael Jackson, highlights from Siedah’s songwriting catalog include “Sometimes,” a Top 20 R&B hit for The Brand New Heavies, of which she was also a member, as well as five songs on Quincy Jones’s multi-Grammy award winning Back on the Block album. The long list of artists who’ve recorded Siedah’s songs includes Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Earth Wind & Fire, The Pointer Sisters, Paula Abdul, Amy Grant, Bobby McFerrin, Barry White, Al B. Sure, El Debarge, James Ingram, will.i.am, and others. The Grammy winning songwriter was also nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. The first, “Love You I Do,” was performed by Jennifer Hudson in the film Dreamgirls. The second, “Real in Rio,” was from the animated film Rio, and was co-written with Sergio Mendes.
Named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, Dann Penn’s impact on the Southern music triangle of Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville cannot be overstated. In the 1960s he teamed with Chips Moman to create two of Southern soul’s most revered standards: “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” which was recorded by Aretha Franklin, and “The Dark End of the Street,” which was first cut by James Carr. Along with his frequent collaborator, Spooner Oldham, Penn has crafted R&B classics such as James and Bobby Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet,” Otis Redding’s “You Left the Water Running,” Percy Sledge’s “It Tears Me Up” and “Out of Left Field,” Solomon Burke’s “Take Me (Just As I Am),” and The Sweet Inspirations’ “Sweet Inspiration.” Additionally, the pair found pop success with Janis Joplin’s recording of “A Woman Left Lonely,” as well as hits such as “Cry Like a Baby” and “I Met Her in Church” that were recorded by The Box Tops, who first broke through to national prominence with the Penn-produced hit “The Letter.” Other artists who’ve recorded songs from the Dan Penn songbook include Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jerry Lee Lewis, Clarence Carter, Joe Cocker, Cher, Arthur Alexander, Ruth Brown, Irma Thomas, Bobby Womack, Esther Phillips, Joe Tex, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Gregg Allman, Etta James, Dionne Warwick, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, Patti LaBelle, Elvis Costello, Buddy Guy, Arthur Conley, Sam & Dave, Elton John, Wilson Pickett, Roger McGuinn, John Prine, and many more.
Emi Sunshine is a 13-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist who first came to prominence in 2014 after a video of her performance at a flea market in her native East Tennessee went viral. Emi, who was 9 at the time, was invited to perform on The Today Show with her family band. Since then, she has released several albums, built up a catalog of over 100 original songs, and has performed on the stage of the legendary Grand Ole Opry over a dozen times. Influenced by Americana, bluegrass, and Appalachian roots music, Emi has performed alongside personal heroes such as Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, and others. Though steeped in musical traditions of the past, Emi is bringing her music to a new generation. With over a half million Facebook followers and millions of YouTube views, she’s introducing the deepest roots of America’s music to her own generation. The Chicago Tribune wrote, “EmiSunshine is no tween novelty. Emi is a throwback to earlier eras of country music. With a sharp Appalachian streak in her voice, she's a strikingly powerful vocalist with potent phrasing.” Her brand new album, Ragged Dreams, features 15 original songs produced by Emi and available now on Little Blackbird Records.
Revered by those in the know, David Olney is a prolific master craftsman who The Los Angeles Times once called “the best songwriter you’ve never heard of,” and about whom the San Francisco Chronicle observed, “In the tradition of Johnny Cash and Tom Waits, Olney has become a pioneer of the Americana music scene.” David was one of the few rockers to emerge from Nashville in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, where he launched his career with The X-Rays, who are best remembered for an appearance on the televised Austin City Limits. He went on to transform himself into a folk-infused singer/songwriter with a rootsy rock edge, releasing more than two dozen solo albums since 1986. Many of his songs have been recorded by other artists, including Emmylou Harris, who cut “Jerusalem Tomorrow,” “Deeper Well,” and “1917.” The latter was a duet with Linda Ronstadt, who also recorded her take on David’s “Women Across the River,” a song that’s also been covered by The Band’s Rick Danko. Other artists who’ve drawn from the Olney songbook include Del McCoury, who recorded “Queen Anne’s Lace” and Connie Britton, who recorded “Postcards From Mexico” for the hit television series, Nashville. The late great Towns Van Zant once wrote, “Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and Dave Olney." David’s most recent album is called Don’t Try to Fight It, and he can been seen performing and discussing songs every Tuesday on his live stream cast called You Never Know at DavidOlney.com.
One of the great tales of songwriting history is the story of Dr. Nadel and Mr. Starr. Dr. Warren Nadel was a successful New York dentist who maintained a dual career as Randy Starr, best known for writing and recording the Billboard Top 40 pop hit, “After School.” He appeared on American Bandstand several times and went on to co-write the instrumental hit “The Enchanted Sea,” which became a charting single for both The Islanders and Martin Denny. He wrote or co-wrote a dozen songs that appeared in Elvis Presley films, including the charting singles “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Almost in Love.” Additionally, his songs have been recorded by Jackie Wilson, Chet Atkins, Kay Starr, Connie Smith, George Hamilton IV, Connie Francis, the Kingston Trio, and many others.
Hugh Prestwood has written twenty charting singles on the Billboard rankings, including eight Top 10 hits. He began his professional career as a folk singer/songwriter in Greenwich Village in the 1970s before finding commercial success as a writer when Judy Collins began recording his songs toward the end of the decade. In the 1980s he appeared on the country charts with the #1 singles “The Sound of Goodbye” by Crystal Gayle and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder” by Michael Johnson. By the following decade Prestwood was regularly topping the charts with titles such as Randy Travis’ “Hard Rock Bottom Of Your Heart,” which earned him the BMI Country Song of the Year Award. Similarly, Trisha Yearwood’s recording of “The Song Remembers When” earned him NSAI’s Song of the Year honors and an Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics. Other artists who’ve recording his songs include Alison Krauss, Anne Murray, Conway Twitty, Shelby Lynne, John Conlee, Barbara Mandrell, Gene Watson, The Judds, Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, Alison Krauss, Jimmy Buffet, Sammy Kershaw, Don Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Vern Gosdin, Kathy Mattea, and Collin Raye, who took the song “On the Verge” to the top of the charts in 1997. Hugh recently released his first full-length album as an artist, I Used to Be the Real Me, on Judy Collins’ Wildflower Records. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.
Tom T. Hall was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Known as “The Storyteller,” the Grammy winner landed 35 songs in the Top 10 on Billboard’s country chart between 1965 and 1996. Many of those featured Hall as both writer and artist, including “Homecoming,” “Me and Jesus,” “Ravishing Ruby,” “That Song is Driving Me Crazy,” “I Like Beer,” and the #1 hits “A Week in a County Jail,” “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” “(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine,” “Country Is,” “I Care,” “Faster Horses (The Cowboy and the Poet),” and “I Love,” which also became a hit on the pop chart. Tom T. Hall songs that hit the Top 5 for other artists include “Hello Vietnam” by Johnny Wright, “How I Got to Memphis” and “(Margie’s at) The Lincoln Park Inn” by Bobby Bare, “If I Ever Fall in Love (With a Honky Tonk Girl)” by Faron Young, “Pool Shark” by Dave Dudley, “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)” by Johnny Rodriguez, “I’m Not Ready Yet” by George Jones, “Little Bitty” by Alan Jackson, and “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” which Jeannie C. Riley took to the #1 spot on both the country and pop chart, making her the first woman to achieve that feat. Hall was named NSAI Songwriter of the Year in 1972, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978, joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008, was honored with the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award in 2010, and earned the prestigious BMI Icon award in 2012.
Austrian musician, film composer, producer, and screenwriter Harald Kloser began his career in Europe playing in a band and collaborating with pop artists such as Falco. As a musician he appeared on recording projects by Tom Waits, Jose Feliciano, Elton John, Al Jarreau, and others. After a career scoring for television, Harald eventually broke through to national prominence with his work on Alien vs. Predator and the sci-fi disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. Both films were directed by Roland Emmerich, with whom Kloser went on to work on 10,000 B.C. and 2012, starring John Cusack. Though the two films were scored by Harald, he also co-wrote the scripts with Emmerich. In addition to creating the score for the movie Anonymous, Harald served as both composer and film producer on the recent hits White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, and Independence Day: Resurgence, starring Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum. He has won three BMI Film & TV Awards for Alien vs. Predator, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012.
Singer/songwriter Rory Feek has written multiple #1 country hits for other artists, including Collin Raye's "Someone You Used to Know,” Clay Walker's "The Chain of Love," Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach,” and Easton Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That.” Other songs from his catalog that have landed in the Top 20 are Tracy Byrd’s “The Truth About Men,” Blaine Larsen’s “How Do You Get That Lonely,” and Jimmy Wayne’s “I Will.” Additionally, his songs have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Mark Wills, Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, The Oak Ridge Boys, John Michael Montgomery, Terri Clark, and Lorrie Morgan. In 2008 Rory formed the duo Joey + Rory with his wife, Joey Martin Feek, for the CMT show Can You Duet. Their popularity led to an ACM award for Top New Vocal Duo of the Year, their own TV show, eight successful albums, and a handful of charting singles, including the self-penned songs “Cheater Cheater” and “That’s Important to Me.” Rory’s identity as a storyteller extends beyond his songs to include screenplays, TV scripts, and a popular blog, which earned a loyal following as he shared his family’s pain, triumphs, fears, and deep personal faith during Joey’s battle with terminal cervical cancer. The duo’s final album, Hymns That Are Important to Us, was released in 2016, less than a month before Joey passed away at age 40. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, was certified Gold, and earned the duo a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album. Rory’s memoir, This Life I Live, chronicles his spiritual journey, his love story with Joey, and his disarmingly vulnerable musings on his role in what he calls “God’s larger story.”
Legendary songwriter Mark James is best known for writing the perennial standards “Always On My Mind” and “Suspicious Minds,” the latter earning induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Greatest Songs of All Time. Both compositions were originally hits for Elvis Presley, who recorded additional charting singles by James, including “Moody Blue,” “Raised on Rock,” and “It’s Only Love.” Mark’s initial success came with B.J. Thomas, who hit the charts with his songs “The Eyes of a New York Woman,” “Everybody Loves a Rain Song,” and the Top 5 single “Hooked on a Feeling,” which was revived as a #1 hit by Blue Swede in 1974 and was prominently featured in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. Additional hits from the Mark James songbook include Brenda Lee’s Top 10 country single “Sunday Sunrise” and previous Songcraft guest Mac Davis’s Top 10 pop single, “One Hell of a Woman.” Mark found his greatest success with Willie Nelson’s revival of “Always On My Mind” in 1982. The record hit #1 on the country chart, became a Top 5 pop single, won BMI Song of the Year, earned CMA Song of the Year two years in a row, and was awarded a Grammy for both Best Country Song and Song of the Year. Other artists who’ve recorded Mark’s material include The Box Tops, Percy Sledge, Lou Rawls, Pet Shop Boys, Julio Iglesias, Helen Reddy, Waylon Jennings, Fine Young Cannibals, Dwight Yoakam, Phish, and Martina McBride. In 2000, BMI named Mark one of the top Songwriters of the Century. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.
Dickey Lee’s early artist career found him scoring pop and R&B hits in the 1960s with songs such as “Patches” and the self-penned single “I Saw Linda Yesterday.” He went on to record seventeen Top 40 country singles, including the major hits “9,999,999 Tears” and “Rocky,” which hit #1 in 1975. Lee is best known, however, for writing “She Thinks I Still Care,” which George Jones took to the #1 spot on the Billboard country chart in 1962. The song has since been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Little Willie John, Connie Francis, Merle Haggard, James Taylor, Harry Connick, Jr., Cher, Anne Murray, and Garth Brooks. Dickey has written an additional half dozen #1 country hits, including “I’ll Be Leaving Alone” for Charley Pride, “You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving” for Reba McEntire, “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together” for George Strait, and “In a Different Light” for Doug Stone. His long list of additional hits includes Emmylou Harris’ “Someone Like You” and Tracy Byrd’s “Keeper of the Stars,” which won the Academy of Country Music’s Song of the Year award. Other artists who’ve recorded his songs include Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Don Williams, Glen Campbell, John Fogerty, Waylon Jennings, Joe Cocker, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Jamey Johnson, and Keb’ Mo’. Ten of Dickey’s songs have earned BMI Performance Awards, and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1995.
Billy Vera is a multi-faceted performer, songwriter, actor, producer, bandleader of The Beaters, and entertainment industry Renaissance man. He’s written numerous hit singles, including “Mean Old World” by Rick Nelson, “Make Me Belong to You” by Barbara Lewis, Dolly Parton’s #1 country single “I Really Got the Feeling,” and “At This Moment,” which rocketed to the top of the Billboard pop rankings following a memorable usage on the popular TV show Family Ties. He made his charting debut as an artist on Atlantic Records with the self-penned Top 20 R&B single, “Storybook Children,” a groundbreaking interracial duet with Judy Clay. Other Billy Vera songs of note include Bonnie Raitt’s recording of “Papa Come Quick (Jody & Chico)" and “Room With a View,” a modern blues classic that’s been recorded by Eric Burdon, Johnny Adams, and Lou Rawls, who released a handful of albums co-produced by Vera . The long list of additional artists who’ve covered Billy’s songs includes The Shirelles, Robert Plant, Fats Domino, Don Williams, Gregory Isaac, Etta James, Nona Hendryx, Tom Jones, Little Milton, Steve Goodman, and George Benson. Vera launched his acting career with an appearance in the cult classic film Buckaroo Bonzai, and went on to appear in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, the Bruce Willis movie Blind Date, and TV shows such as Alice, Baywatch, Boy Meets World, and Beverly Hills 90201. A noted music historian, Billy has produced over 200 reissue albums, earning multiple Grammy nominations, and a 2013 win for his work on the Ray Charles box set, Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles. His historically-oriented radio show, Billy Vera’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, earned him a Peabody Award for Excellence in Radio Broadcasting and led to a career as a voiceover artist. He is the voice of major advertising campaigns by Burger King, Honda, Toyota, Mercury, and others, as well as the singer of TV show theme songs, including Empty Nest and The King of Queens. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and tells the remarkable story of his varied career in the new memoir, Billy Vera: Harlem to Hollywood.
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Vince Gill launched his solo career in the mid-1980s, hitting the Top 10 on Billboard’s country singles chart a remarkable 25 times. All but one of those hits was written or co-written by Gill, and a dozen of his compositions have been nominated for either CMA Song of the Year, ACM Song of the Year, or the Best Country Song Grammy. These include “When I Call Your Name,” “Look At Us,” “Pocket Full of Gold,” “When Love Finds You,” “High Lonesome Sound,” “If You Have Forever in Mind,” “Feels Like Love,” and “Threaten Me With Heaven.” “Go Rest High on That Mountain” won both the CMA Song of the Year and the Best Country Song Grammy, while “I Still Believe in You” won the Best Country Song Grammy, as well as both the CMA and the ACM’s Song of the Year awards. Though he’s won four in total, Vince is the only songwriter to ever win three consecutive Song of the Year awards from the CMA. He has won more Grammy awards, with over 20 trophies, than any male country performer in history. These include two Best Country Song wins, as well as a 2017 win for Best American Roots Song for “Kid Sister,” which was recorded by Gill’s band, The Time Jumpers. He has won eight ACM awards and 18 CMA awards, including Vocalist of the Year five years in a row and Entertainer of the Year two years in a row. Other highlights from his long list of hit singles include the #1 hits “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” “One More Last Chance,” and “Tryin’ to Get Over You.” In addition to writing his own material, Vince’s songs have been recorded by Loretta Lynn, Bob Seger, John Denver, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Prine, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, LeAnn Rimes, and Alabama, who topped the country charts with his “Here We Are.” Vince was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2014, he was named a BMI Icon, one of only twelve country writers ever honored with the prestigious award.
Jimmy Webb emerged as a superstar songwriter and arranger in 1967 when two of his songs – The 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away” and Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” - were among the five nominees for the Grammy’s Song of the Year award. He went on to write a string of major hits for Campbell, including “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” "Where’s the Playground Susie,” “Honey Come Back,” and many others. Additionally, he penned “MacArthur Park,” which was a hit for a diverse range of artists, including Richard Harris, Waylon Jennings, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, and Donna Summer; “The Worst That Could Happen,” which was a Top 5 hit for The Brooklyn Bridge; “Didn’t We,” which was recorded by Thelma Houston, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, and Barbra Streisand; “All I Know,” which became a Top 10 hit for Art Garfunkel; “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress,” which has been recorded by Joe Cocker, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, and Josh Groban; and “If These Walls Could Speak,” which was recorded by Glen Campbell, Amy Grant, Nanci Griffith, and Shawn Colvin. Others who’ve covered material from the Jimmy Webb songbook include Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, The Four Tops, Roberta Flack, The Temptations, The Association, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick, Cass Elliot, Harry Nilsson, Nancy Wilson, Cher, Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Nick Cave, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Sheena Easton, David Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, R.E.M., Aimee Mann, America, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, Peggy Lee, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Carrie Underwood, Dwight Yoakam, and The Highwaymen (consisting of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson), who took Jimmy’s song “Highwayman” to #1, earning him a Grammy for Country Song of the Year. As an artist, he has released more than a dozen albums, most recently 2013’s Still Within the Sound of My Voice, which features duets with guest artists such as Lyle Lovett, Carly Simon, Keith Urban, and Brian Wilson. One of the most celebrated songwriters on the planet, Jimmy is the only individual to win Grammy awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame. Additionally, he has received ASCAP’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Influential Songwriter Award from the National Music Publishers Association, and the Academy of Country Music’s prestigious Poets Award. In 2015 he was named among Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Jimmy’s new memoir, The Cake and the Rain, details his formative years and early career through 1973. It’s available now from St. Martin’s Press.
Emerging from Brooklyn in the late 1990s, Talib Kweli has carved out a reputation as a gifted lyricist and has been called “one of this generation’s most poetic MCs” by AllMusic.com. A prolific collaborator, he is a member of multiple duos, including Reflection Eternal with DJ Hi-Teck, Black Star with Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), and Idle Warship with vocalist Res. He has placed seven releases in the Top 10 on Billboard’s R&B and Hip Hop Albums chart, and has found success with the solo hit “Get By,” which was produced by Kanye West. Additional hits include the Top 5 Black Star track “Definition,” the chart-topping Reflection Eternal singles “Move Somethin’” and “The Blast,” and the Top 5 single “One Four Love Pt. 1,” which was included on the Hip Hop for Respect EP he organized with Mos Def. Additionally, he and Common collaborated on “Get ‘Em High” from Kanye West’s The College Dropout album. Kweli recently contributed to “The Killing Season” from A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 comeback album that debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts. Others with whom he’s collaborated include John Legend, Pharrell Williams, J Dilla, The Roots, Will.i.am, KRS-One, Consequence, Anderson Paak, Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige, Raheem DeVaughan, Norah Jones, Musiq Soulchild, Sizzla, Justin Timberlake, and Jay-Z.
Joe Melson co-wrote more than 200 songs with Roy Orbison, including over half of Roy’s sixteen Monument Records singles that appeared on the Billboard chart between 1960 and 1963. Their first major hit together was “Only the Lonely,” a style-defining performance featuring Orbison on lead vocals and Melson on the prominent counter melody. The pair followed up their success with a string of hits, including “Blue Angel,” “Running Scared,” and “Crying.” Legendary songwriter Boudleaux Bryant once wrote, “It would be an unpardonable oversight to overlook the contribution of Joe Melson to Roy’s meteoric rise to stardom.” In the 1960s Joe landed his own record deal with the Hickory label, while continuing to pen songs for other artists. His successes in that era include The Newbeats’ Top 10 pop single “Run, Baby Run (Back Into My Arms)” and Don Gibson’s Top 40 country hit “Ever Changing Mind.” In subsequent years the team of Melson and Orbison reunited, working together as both co-writers and producers. Linda Ronstadt covered their “Blue Bayou” in 1977, making it a Top 5 hit on both the country and pop charts. Credited with creating the template for the dramatic rock ballad, Melson has won multiple BMI awards. “Blue Bayou” was named one of BMI’s Top 100 Songs of the Century, “Only the Lonely” is among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and “Crying” appears on both the BMI and Rolling Stone lists. Most recently, Melson joined forces with Australian Idol winner Damien Leith. The pair have released several singles since 2013 and continue to collaborate. Joe was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2002.
Rod Argent is the founding member, keyboardist, and driving force behind the legendary 1960s British Invasion band, The Zombies. Argent wrote the band’s best known classics, including the Top 10 single “Tell Her No” and the #1 hit “She’s Not There,” which Rolling Stone ranked at #297 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. By the time The Zombies’ 1968 LP Odessey and Oracle was released, the group had disbanded. “Time of the Season” became a surprise hit from the album, however, reaching the Top 5 on the US charts. Over time, Odessey and Oracle has become a cult classic, and was ranked in the Top 100 Greatest Albums of All Time in both Rolling Stone and Mojo magazines. Rod went on to form the band Argent, scoring a Top 5 hit in 1972 with “Hold Your Head Up,” which he co-wrote with former Zombies bandmate Chris White. Additionally, the group recorded the original version of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” which was subsequently covered by KISS. After the demise of Argent, Rod threw himself into session work, playing piano on the Who’s classic single “Who Are You,” and working extensively with Andrew Lloyd Weber. He released a handful of solo projects, produced successful albums for artists such as Nanci Griffith and Joshua Kadison, and toured as a member of Ringo Starr’s All Star Band before re-forming the Zombies with original lead singer Colin Blunstone in the mid-2000s. His songs have been recorded by The Ventures, Dusty Springfield, Vanilla Fudge, The Mindbenders, Del Shannon, Santana, Steppenwolf, Uriah Heep, Juice Newton, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews Band, Susanna Hoffs, Tom Petty, America, Mother Love Bone, Ronnie Spector, and others. The original lineup of The Zombies - Rod, lead singer Colin Blunstone, bassist Chris White, and drummer Hugh Grundy - have just released a career retrospective coffee table book called The Odessey. They’ll launch a tour this month in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the recording of Odessey and Oracle and will perform the full album in its entirety.
Natalie Hemby came to prominence as an award-winning Nashville-based writer for other artists, penning at least two dozen songs with or for Miranda Lambert, including the hits “White Liar,” “Only Prettier,” “Baggage Claim,” and the #1 single “Automatic,” which was nominated for a Grammy and named both ACM and NSAI Song of the Year. Additionally, she co-wrote Little Big Town’s chart topping singles “Pontoon” and “Tornado,” the #1 hits “Downtown” by Lady Antebellum and “You Look Like I Need a Drink” by Justin Moore, Toby Keith’s Top 20 “Drinks After Work,” and “Don’t Rush,” which was a hit for Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill. Additionally, she scored a Top 10 UK pop hit with “Jealous,” a song co-written with - and recorded by - the English producer, performer, and multi-instrumentalist known as Labrinth. Natalie has co-written songs with a long list of artists who’ve gone on to record their collaborations, including Eli Young Band, Amy Grant, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, Brett Eldredge, Chris Isaak, Laura Bell Bundy, Dierks Bentley, Maren Morris, Johnnyswim, and previous Songcraft guests Trent Dabbs, Lori McKenna, and Maia Sharp. Others who’ve dipped into the Natalie Hemby songbook include Lee Ann Womack, Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Blake Shelton, Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice. In addition to writing a half dozen #1 hits, Hemby co-produced a documentary about her grandfather’s hometown called Puxico, which was the inspiration for the eponymous album that’s been heralded by The New York Times, NPR, and Rolling Stone as an early favorite of 2017.
The legendary Jerry Chesnut has written more than three dozen Top 40 singles, including Top 10 classics such as Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Another Place, Another Time,” Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s “Holding On to Nothing,” George Jones’s “A Good Year For the Roses,” Faron Young’s “It’s Four in the Morning,” Loretta Lynn’s “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore,” and Johnny Cash’s “Oney.” Additionally, he wrote five songs that were recorded by Elvis Presley, including the Top 10 "It's Midnight," and “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” which would later become a hit single for Travis Tritt. Chesnut also penned charting singles for Tammy Wynette, Dave Dudley, Bobby Goldsboro, Bill Anderson, Hank Williams Jr., Mel Tillis, Tom Jones, and Alan Jackson. His songs have additionally been recorded by Waylon Jennings, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, Hank Thompson, Willie Nelson, Mark Chesnutt, Johnny Paycheck, George Strait, Elvis Costello, the Counting Crows, and many others. The two-time Grammy nominee was named Billboard’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1972, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1996, and became a member of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
Texas songwriter extraordinaire Radney Foster has written over a dozen Top 10 country hits, including Colin Raye’s “Anyone Else,” Keith Urban’s “Raining on Sunday,” and Sara Evans’s “A Real Fine Place to Start.” He initially hit the scene with songwriting partner Bill Lloyd, with whom he penned Sweethearts of the Rodeo’s “Since I Found You.” The pair gained success as performers with the Top 10 singles “Crazy Over You,” “Sure Thing,” “What Do You Want From Me This Time,” and “Fair Shake,” earning four nominations for CMA Vocal Duo of the Year. Foster’s debut solo album, Del Rio, TX 1959, spawned five charting singles, including the Top 10 hit “Nobody Wins.” He has gone on to release nine additional albums as a highly respected singer/songwriter, while continuing to have his material recorded by others. Notable highlights from the Foster songbook include The Mavericks’ “I Got You,” The Dixie Chicks’ cover of “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams),” Dierks Bentley’s recording of “Sweet and Wild,” Pat Green’s Top 40 single “Three Days,” Jack Ingram’s Top 20 single “Measure of a Man,” Keith Urban’s chart-topping take on “I’m In,” as well as “Somebody Take Me Home” from Kenny Chesney’s #1 triple platinum album The Road and the Radio, and “I Knew You That Way” from Luke Bryan’s multi-platinum #1 album Tailgates & Tanlines. The long list of additional artists who’ve recorded Radney’s songs includes Guy Clark, Hootie & The Blowfish, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Brooks & Dunn, Gary Allan, Kenny Loggins, and, Darius Rucker.
After establishing herself in Europe, New Zealand native Pam Sheyne broke through to international songwriting success when “Genie in a Bottle” hit #1 in more than 20 countries, sold millions of copies around the world, cemented Christina Aguilera’s place as a new pop superstar, and earned Sheyne an Ivor Novello award for International Hit of the Year. Pam went on to pen the single “Mirror Mirror” for the Norwegian pop duo M2M, which landed in the Top 20 on the US Dance chart, as well as “He Loves U Not,” which was recorded by the girl group Dream, hit #2 on the Billboard pop chart, and was certified Gold after selling more than a half million copies in the US. She went on to write “Irresistible,” the title track to Jessica Simpson’s second album, which reached #15 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 2001. Pam also co-wrote the Top 40 single “She Said” for teen pop singer turned Academy Award winning actress, Brie Larson, and the #1 hit “Lighthouse” for South African Idol winner Elvis Blue. Other artists who’ve recorded her songs include Sheena Easton, O Town, Nick Lachey, Lindsay Lohan, Ce Ce Winans, Vitamin C, Corinne Bailey Rae, Demi Lovato, Seal, and others. In addition to her creative efforts, Pam is also a tireless advocate for the songwriting community and has been in the trenches fighting for fair legislation and business practices that support the songwriting profession.
Sonny Curtis began his music career in Lubbock, Texas, playing lead guitar in Buddy Holly’s pre-Crickets band, The Three Tunes. He landed his first hit as a songwriter when Webb Pierce took his song “Someday” to #12 on the Billboard country chart in 1957. He went on to his own performing career, both as a solo artist and as the longtime guitarist and vocalist for the post-Buddy Holly Crickets, while continuing to write songs that became hits for others. These include The Everly Brothers’ “Walk Right Back,” Andy Williams’ “A Fool Never Learns,” The Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law,” Bobby Goldsboro’s “The Straight Life,” Leo Sayer’s “More Than I Can Say,” and Keith Whitley’s #1 country hit, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain.” In addition, Curtis wrote and performed “Love is All Around,” the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His music has been covered by Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, The Grateful Dead, The Stray Cats, Bryan Adams, John Cougar Mellencamp, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Joan Jett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Chet Atkins, Johnny Rivers, Green Day, Harry Nilsson, Glen Campbell, and many others. He’s a member of the Musician’s Hall of Fame and the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2012 he and his fellow Crickets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which also counted Sonny’s “I Fought the Law” as one of the 500 “Songs That Shaped Rock.” Similarly, “I Fought the Law” is on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Multi-Grammy award winner Loretta Lynn is an American music legend. The Kentucky native married as a young teenager, moved to Washington State, and had four children by age 20. She poured her energies into life as a homemaker before teaching herself to play guitar and write songs. Her life experiences informed her writing style, which gave voice to the concerns of everyday working class women. She landed a record contract with a regional label and tirelessly promoted her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” to radio stations across the country. The record climbed to #14 on the Billboard country chart, leading to a move to Nashville. After appearing on the Grand Ole Opry and signing a songwriting deal with the Wilburn Brothers’ publishing company she was recruited to Decca Records by legendary producer Owen Bradley. Loretta went on to place more than 75 singles on the Billboard country chart as either a solo artist or as a duet partner with Ernest Tubb or Conway Twitty. More than 50 of those singles hit the Top 10, including 15 #1 hits. Many of her classic songs were self-penned, including “Dear Uncle Sam,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” “Fist City,” “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath,” “Rated X,” “The Pill,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which NPR named one of the “100 Most Significant Songs of the Century.” She has received a combined 21 awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, including the ACM’s Artist of the Decade Award in 1979, the Pioneer Award in 1994, and the Crystal Milestone Award in 2014. She became the first female to win CMA Entertainer of the Year honors in 1972 and became the first female ACM Entertainer of the Year in 1975. She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008. She received Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, earned the prestigious BMI Icon award in 2004, took home a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010, and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. She has sold more than 45 million records worldwide, was the first woman in country music to receive a certified Gold album, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for nearly 55 years.
Tom Russell is a painter, essayist, and critically lauded singer-songwriter in the Western folk tradition, All Music Guide called him “perhaps the finest American folk-roots artist that most Americans never heard of,” while Rolling Stone’s John Swenson dubbed him “the greatest living folk-country songwriter.” Russell was discovered by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter in New York in the early 1980s and launched his solo artist career soon after. His songs “Blue Wing” and “Black Pearl” each reached the Top 40 on the Canadian country charts, while Suzy Bogguss took “Outbound Plane,” which Tom co-wrote with Nanci Griffith, to the Top 10 in the US. The hyper-literate and historically-minded troubadour poet has found loyal devotees including cultural icons ranging from Johnny Cash, who recorded his songs, to David Letterman, who invited Russell on his late night show on at least five different occasions. Songs such as “Gallo del Cielo” and “Navajo Rug” have become fan favorites, while “Tonight We Ride” was selected by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time. Tom’s songs have been recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Dave Alvin, Doug Sahm, Joe Ely, Nanci Griffith, Iris Dement, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ian Tyson, k.d. lang, and others. Mojo magazine called his conceptual LP The Rose of Roscrae “the top Folk album of 2015. That same year, Russell won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. His most recent work is Ceremonies of the Horsemen, a collection of essays he has written for Ranch & Reata, the Journal of the American West.
The daughter of legendary Nashville songwriter and producer Buddy Cannon, Marla Cannon-Goodman first made her mark when Lee Ann Womack took her song “The Fool” to the top of the country charts in 1997. Cannon went on to pen the #1 hits “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo” by Tracy Byrd and “Cleaning This Gun” by Rodney Atkins, as well as the hit singles “Don’t Make Me” by Blake Shelton and “Rock On” by Tucker Beathard. Other artists who’ve recorded her songs include Sammy Kershaw, Susan Ashton, Craig Morgan, Tracy Lawrence, Billy Currington, Eric Church, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Joe Nichols, Sara Evans, and others. She is a multiple ASCAP award winner and regularly lends her talents to various charities and fundraising efforts in the Nashville community.
Launching his professional career as a child actor on Broadway, Gary Wright eventually moved to Europe to pursue post-graduate studies in Psychology. While there, he co-founded the group Spooky Tooth as keyboardist and primary songwriter. He departed in 1970 to launch a solo career and, during this era, began working as a studio musician, playing on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy,” Harry Nilsson’s “Without You,” and other notable recordings by legends such as B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis. His work with George Harrison led to a lifelong friendship, resulting in Wright appearing on every Harrison solo album in the 1970s. George recorded several of their co-written compositions, including “If You Believe” from his 1979 self-titled album and “That’s What It Takes,” which the two composed with Jeff Lynne for the acclaimed Cloud 9 album. After a second stint with Spooky Tooth from 1972-1974, Gary’s commercial breakthrough as a solo artist came when he signed with Warner Bros. Records. The Dream Weaver LP from 1975 spawned two massive hits; the title track, which became a #1 single, and “Love is Alive,” which climbed to #2 on the Billboardpop chart. He continued to record for Warner Bros. into the 1980s, with highlights including the critically acclaimed Headin’ Home album in 1979 and the Top 20 single “Really Want to Know You” from 1981. After spending several years exploring world music, Gary returned to his rock and pop roots with a Spooky Tooth reunion in 2004, followed by a multi-year stint in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band beginning in 2008. His most recent release is the previously unheard album Ring of Changes, which he recorded in 1972 with his band Wonderwheel, featuring a pre-Foreigner Mick Jones. In 2014 Gary released his autobiography, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation and My Friendship with George Harrison.
A multiple BMI award-winning songwriter, Maurice Williams is best known for penning two R&B classics, “Stay,” and “Little Darlin’.” The latter song first appeared on the Excello label in 1957 as recorded by Williams’ own group, The Gladiolas. It was soon covered by The Diamonds, who made it a national #2 hit on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts. Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” kept the song from the top spot, though Elvis himself would later record “Little Darlin’” for his 1977 Moody Blue album. Williams’ Gladiolas eventually morphed into Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, who topped the charts with “Stay” in 1960. Though the song is only 97 seconds long, its infectious falsetto harmony hook, “Oh won’t you stay just a little bit longer,” made it an instant doo-wop classic and the record holder for the shortest song to ever hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart. Other artists have charted with their own Top 20 hit versions, including the Hollies, the Four Seasons, and Jackson Browne. The Zodiacs’ original version became well-known to a new generation with the release of the multi-million selling soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing in 1987. Following the success of “Stay,” Williams continued to perform with the Zodiacs, scoring charting pop singles such as the self-penned titles, “I Remember” and “Come Along.” His “May I” became a million-selling record for the Zodiacs and a Top 40 single for Bill Deal and the Rhondels in 1969. Williams continues to perform and record, and has been inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and the South Carolina Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Pioneering female artist and celebrated Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, landed more than 30 songs on the Billboard charts between 1954 and 1974. These include the self-penned singles "Right or Wrong" and "In the Middle of a Heartache," two Top 10 hits which proved to be Jackson’s most successful records as a solo artist. Beginning her career as a pure country singer, Wanda’s debut single was a duet with Billy Gray called “You Can’t Have My Love.” Released on Decca Records, the song hit #8 on the country chart in 1954. She later switched to the Capitol label where she was encouraged by then-boyfriend and tour mate Elvis Presley to embrace rockabilly. Facing a lack of female-oriented material in the genre, Wanda penned her own songs, including the rockabilly standards "Mean Mean Man," "Rock Your Baby," "Cool Love" and "Baby Loves Him," each of which was released as a single on Capitol Records and later appeared on her classic Rockin' with Wanda LP. Additionally, she penned Top 10 hits for other artists, including Bobby Lord's "Without Your Love" in 1956, Buck Owens's "Kickin' Our Hearts Around" in 1962, and Ronnie Dove's revival of "Right or Wrong" in 1964. Jackson is a BMI Performance Award winner, multiple Grammy nominee, and a member of the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. "I love her, she's so brilliant. I don't think 'Rollin' in the Deep' would exist if it wasn't for Wanda Jackson." - Adele "Wanda Jackson, an atomic fireball of a lady, could have a smash hit with just about anything." - Bob Dylan "Look around today and you can hear lots of rocking girl singers who owe an unconscious debt to the mere idea of a woman like Wanda. She was standing up on stage with a guitar in her hands and making a sound that was as wild and raw as any rocker, man or woman, while other gals were still asking, 'How much is that doggy in the window?'" - Elvis Costello "In his London office, [Paul] McCartney is surrounded by his roots and history - there is Beatles and Wings memorabilia, and a vintage jukebox loaded with 78s by Fats Domino, Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley." - Rolling Stone magazine "There's an authenticity in her voice that conjures up a world and a very distinct and particular place in time." - Bruce Springsteen
Gordon Kennedy is a Nashville-based songwriter, producer, and guitarist best known for co-writing “Change the World,” which Eric Clapton took to the top of the charts and kept in the Top 20 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary rankings for an unprecedented 81 weeks. That success won Kennedy a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and turbocharged his commercial songwriting career. After scoring a #3 Billboard country hit with “You Move Me” in 1998, Garth Brooks went on to release 10 more Kennedy-penned songs on his 1999 Chris Gaines album. These included the Top 5 pop hit “Lost in You” and “It Don’t Matter to the Sun,” which fell just shy of the Top 20 on the country chart. Kennedy has enjoyed additional charting singles, such as Faith Hill’s “It Will Be Me;” the Clark Family Experience’s “Meanwhile Back at the Ranch;” Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s “Love Will Always Win;” Carrie Underwood’s “The More Boys I Meet;” and Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Help You Now,” “I Will Not Be Broken,” and “Gypsy in Me.” Other artists who’ve recorded Gordon’s songs include Tim McGraw, George Strait, Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek, Joan Osborne, Bruce Hornsby, Wynonna, Jerry Reed, Martina McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, and more. He has worked extensively with Ricky Skaggs and Peter Frampton, earning two Grammy nominations for his work on Skaggs’ Mosaic album and winning a Grammy for producing Frampton’s 2006 album, Fingerprints. His most recent project is called Heel, a celebrated reunion album with his mid-1990s band Dogs of Peace.
Mississippi native Trent Dabbs relocated to Nashville in the early 2000s, where he’s carved out a niche on the local indie rock and Americana scene. Over the last twelve years, he’s released ten solo albums, a collaborative EP with edgy country sensation Ashley Monroe, and two retro R&B inspired projects with fellow singer/songwriter Amy Stroup under the name Sugar + The Hi-Lows. Earning significant critical acclaim, All Music predicted that Sugar + The Hi-Lows “just might be the next breakout band to capture the nation’s imagination.” Dabbs is a co-founder of the Ten out of Tenn artist collective, and has collaborated with high-profile songwriters, including Lori McKenna, Gabe Dixon, Joy Williams of the Civil Wars, and Kacey Musgraves, with whom he penned the Top 40 country single “Undermine” from the hit TV show Nashville. Other songs from the Trent Dabbs catalog that have appeared on the series include “World on Time,” “I’m Coming Over,” “Shine,” and “Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet,” which became a Top 40 hit for series regular Hayden Panettiere in 2014. Many of the songs from Dabbs’ solo projects have landed on high profile TV shows such as The O.C., The Hills, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, So You Think You Can Dance, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Hawaii-Five-O, NCIS, and others. Dabbs contributed six songs to Ingrid Michaelson’s 2014 album Lights Out, including “Girls Chase Boys,” a Top 10 single on both Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs and Adult Top 40 chart. His latest album as a solo artist is called The Optimist.
Between 1961 and 1970 Steve Cropper was a fixture at Memphis’ legendary Stax Records and studio, where he worked as a producer, guitarist, engineer, artist, A&R man, and songwriter. During that era he penned over a dozen songs that reached the Top 10 on Billboard's R&B and Pop charts, including Otis Redding’s “Mr. Pitiful" and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay;" Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” “Don’t Fight It,” and “634-5789;” Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood;” as well as “See Saw,” which was a hit for both Don Covay and Aretha Franklin. Additionally, his band Booker T. & the MG’s scored with several of Cropper’s co-written instrumental singles, such as “Green Onions,” “Hip Hug-Her,” “Soul-Limbo,” and “Time is Tight.” In the 1970s Steve joined the original incarnation of the Blues Brothers Band and appeared prominently in the film. Additionally, he produced memorable albums such as Tower of Power’s We Came to Play and Jon Cougar's Nothing Matters and What If It Did. Cropper issued a pair of solo albums in the 1980s and went on to release more recent albums in collaboration with former Rascals leader – and previous Songcraft guest – Felix Cavaliere. The multiple Grammy winner was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Top 100 Guitar Players of All Time, while Mojo magazine named him the second greatest guitarist, after Jimi Hendrix. His reputation has earned him the opportunity to work with Big Star, John Lennon, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Paul Simon, Buddy Guy, Elton John, Joe Louis Walker, and many others. In the 1990s he was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the Musicians Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cropper received Tennessee's Arts and Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. The long list of artists who've covered Steve Cropper's songs includes The Bar-Kays, George Benson, The Blues Brothers, Michael Bolton, David Bowie, Glen Campbell, Clarence Carter, Cher, Eric Clapton, Color Me Badd, Ry Cooder, The Count Basie Orchestra, Creedence Clearwater Revival, King Curtis, Ella Fitzgerald, Free, Eddie Floyd, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, Sammy Hagar, Etta James, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, Tom Jones, Janis Joplin, Albert King, B.B. King, Peggy Lee, Taj Mahal, Sergio Mendes, Buddy Miles, Aaron Neville, New York Dolls, The Ohio Players, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Esther Phillips, Wilson Pickett, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls, Otis Redding, Martha Reeves, The Righteous Brothers, Johnny Rivers, Roxy Music, Sam & Dave, Seal, Percy Sledge, Joe Simon, Bruce Springsteen, The Staple Singers, Steppenwolf, Rod Stewart, The Sweet Inspirations, T. Rex, James Taylor, Carla Thomas, Tina Turner, The Ventures, Mary Wells, Jackie Wilson, and The Young Rascals.
After Linda Ronstadt scored a Top 10 hit with Billy Steinberg’s “How Do I Make You” in 1980, he went on to score a series of chart-topping singles co-written with Tom Kelly, including “Like a Virgin” by Madonna, “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, “Alone” by Heart, "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston, and “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles. Additional Top 10 hits from the Steinberg/Kelly songbook include “In Your Room” by the Bangles, “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls, “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders, and “I Drove All Night,” which was a major international hit three different times, first by Cyndi Lauper, then by Roy Orbison, and, finally, by Celine Dion. After Tom Kelly retired from the music business, Steinberg partnered with Rick Nowels, with whom he won a Grammy for their work on the title track to Celine Dion’s multiplatinum Falling Into You album in 1996. Since the mid-2000s, Billy has written extensively with Josh Alexander, with whom he penned JoJo's Top 5 pop hit "Too Little Too Late" and Demi Lovato’s “Give Your Heart a Break." Additionally, the pair partnered with songwriter/producer – and previous Songcraft guest - Toby Gad for Nicole Scherzinger's #1 UK chart-topper "Don't Hold Your Breath.” Other artists who’ve contributed to Steinberg’s long list of Billboard charting singles include Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, Susanna Hoffs, Chicago, Bette Midler, Ace of Base, Phil Collins, Katharine McPhee, Carrie Underwood, and many others. Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.
Jamie Floyd is a West Palm Beach, Florida native who grew up in a musical family where she had the opportunity to perform as an opening act for Rascal Flatts, James Taylor, and others. By the age of 11 she’d signed her first production and publishing deals, eventually relocating to Nashville where she found success writing for other artists. She’s best known as the co-writer of “the Blade,” which became the title track to Ashley Monroe’s 2015 album and was named one of the top songs of the year by NPR Music. Co-produced by Vince Gill and featuring a guest appearance by Miranda Lambert, the song became the album’s centerpiece and helped earn the project a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album of the Year. Others who’ve recorded Floyd’s songs include former Brooks & Dunn front man Ronnie Dunn, who featured the song “Once” on his debut solo album, which went to the #1 spot on the Billboard country chart in 2011. Jamie’s song “Trouble Get Me Off Your Mind” was performed by R&B powerhouse Brian McKnight in Dolly Parton’s 2013 TV film A Country Christmas Story, while Hayden Panettiere’s character, Juliette Barnes, performed Jamie’s “Mississippi Flood” on the hit ABC television series Nashville. Floyd’s songs have also been heard on MTV’s Finding Carter, Lifetime’s The Client List, the CW Network’s Beauty & the Beast, and the Lifetime original movie, Manson’s Lost Girls. The SESAC honoree has enjoyed her cross-genre success by writing songs by day and waiting tables by night. The hard-working dual-career up-and-comer is a model for what it takes to carve out a space in Nashville’s increasingly competitive musical landscape. With her recent Sunshine & Rainbows EP attracting new fans and increased industry attention, Jamie Floyd is one to watch!
Doobie Brothers lead singer, guitarist, and founding member Tom Johnston wrote 9 of the first 13 singles issued by the band between 1971 and 1975. These include the hits “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove,” and the classic rock radio staple “Rockin’ Down the Highway.” His voice can be heard on additional Doobies hits, including “Jesus is Just Alright” and “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me).” After being sidelined by health issues, Michael McDonald replaced Johnston in the band, with Tom eventually going on to a solo career. He released two albums for Warner Bros., scored a Top 40 single with the self-penned “Savannah Nights,” and performed the song “Where Are You Tonight” for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which sold over 11 million albums in the US alone. He returned to the Doobie Brothers in the late 1980s, writing the Top 10 single “The Doctor,” and going on to pen such songs as 1991’s “Rollin’ On,” which was a hit on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Additionally, he wrote the title track for their 2011 album World Gone Crazy. In 2014, the band released the album Southbound, featuring duets with well-known country performers Blake Shelton, Hunter Hayes, Toby Keith, Chris Young, Brad Paisley, and others. Johnston continues to front the Grammy-winning Doobie Brothers alongside fellow founder, guitarist and songwriter Patrick Simmons. The band has sold more than 48 million albums, including The Best of the Doobies, which is among the 100 top-selling albums of all time.