The Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY Museum, presented another stellar line-up in its continuing series of Chart Toppers: Today’s Star Making Hit Songwriters/Producers at the Museum’s Clive Davis Theater on Wednesday, October 18th. The evening featured busbee, Dave Bassett, Warren “Oak” Felder and Teddy Geiger; four of today’s hottest songwriter/producers speaking about their craft and sharing stories behind their hit songs. The event was deftly moderated by acclaimed music journalist and author, Shirley Halperin, Executive Editor of Music at Variety and Variety.com.
Halperin asked each writer about their processes, both with and without a project in mind, versus actually writing with an artist with a specific concept. busbee described his successful collaboration with Grammy-Winner Maren Morris on “My Church,” then performed a stunning acoustic rendition of the song which evolved into a sing-along by the entire audience. busbee also described his varying approaches to writing in Nashville which necessitate adapting to each setting. He acknowledged his successes with Florida Georgia Line on the smash “H.O.L.Y.,” versus pop writing sessions with P!NK on “Try.”
Dave Bassett recounted how a personal challenge to Rachel Platten to write an anthemic, uplifting ballad to counter her self-doubt resulted in her smash “Fight Song.” The subsequent virtual explosion online showcased the song in numerous campaigns to help others surmount their own personal challenges. Halperin and Bassett then discussed how the demo of the hit single “Ex’s And Oh’s” essentially became the actual recorded version by Elle King which Dave Bassett performed on stage to the delight of all.
When asked about his writing process, Warren “Oak” Felder was quick to point out that his songs are usually based on his personal experiences, sharing that Demi Lovato’s current #1 single “Sorry Not Sorry” surfaced after resolving a conflict at home. Overcoming obstacles in getting songs heard and making them a priority was another line of questioning and Felder recounted how Nicki Minaj’s first single “Your Love” almost didn’t make it out of the starting gate when a series of events kept holding back its eventual rise to the top of the charts.
Shirley Halperin addressed Teddy Geiger’s approach working with Shawn Mendes and other artists as he typically follows their lead in creating their own aura. He recounted how technology today influences the songwriting process and highlighted his affinity for Pro Tools. Having a string of successful Shawn Mendes songs to choose from (including the 2017 BMI Song of the Year “Stitches”), Geiger performed a soulful rendition of “Mercy” at the piano - the first time Geiger’s ever performed the Top 10 hit.
“The Songwriters Hall of Fame is thrilled to be able to offer these unique opportunities to share how the business of songwriting is constantly changing as seen through the eyes of those who are fully immersed in the ‘hot zone,’” said SHOF President & CEO Linda Moran. “The SHOF is extremely proud of the continuing outstanding programs created by SHOF West Coast Projects Chair Mary Jo Mennella and the remarkable committee members.”
An impressive group of songwriting students from USC’s Thornton School of Music were in attendance from Vice Dean Chris Sampson’s Contemporary Music Program, who had numerous questions for the panellists. Their close association with West Coast events directly speaks to the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s mission; not only celebrating songwriters, but educating and nurturing the development of new songwriting talent through scholarships and events such as these.
The evening was hosted by Mary Jo Mennella, (SHOF Board Member and West Coast Chair) with West Coast Events Director Barbara Cane, who chaired the event. Donna Caseine and Casey Robison, West Coast Songwriters Hall of Fame Committee members, were in attendance and Lynne Sheridan and Rosalie Sanchez, Sr. Director and Sr. Coordinator of Public Programs and Artist Relations respectively, co-hosted the event on behalf of the Grammy Museum. Proceeds from these events benefit the educational programs of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grammy Museum.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame, together with the GRAMMY Museum, has been producing annual events featuring legendary and contemporary hit songwriters since 2010.