Desmond Child Shines at USC

The USC Thornton School's Popular Music Program concluded its school year on Friday, April 29th, by hosting 2008 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee Desmond Child in its final SHOF Master Session of the semester. Interviewed by Chris Sampson, Vice Dean of the USC Contemporary Music Program, Desmond generously shared his career experiences and emphasized his advocacy on behalf of songwriters due to current challenges facing the industry. During their one-on-one discussion, Child reflected back and shared life lessons, biographical snapshots and songwriting expertise from his successful 30+ year career which has brought to the world some of the most beloved anthems in music. He explained his humble beginnings as a Cuban refugee in Miami and the son of a struggling songwriter; his mother, who inspired him to be a musician. He attributed the longevity of his career in part to his continual striving to always be better. “I found the ‘hustle,’” he told the audience, and said he learned “the better a song gets, the better it’s got to get. Don¹t settle for anything that's not fresh. I never thought I was great, because there’s always somebody greater.” Desmond then went on to conduct one-on-one sessions with the students. During 15 minute segments, he provided four students with invaluable direction and techniques that will guide them for the rest of their careers. Those in attendance were enthralled with his insightful analysis of lyrics, song structure and storyline continuity. Sara Mulford, Jensen McRae, Jack DeMeo and Madison Douglas showcased their unique and stirring performances on piano and guitar before engaging in an entertaining dialog and critique from Desmond. “Desmond's Master Session with the students was without a doubt the best way to get insights into his process,” said Chris Sampson. “It immediately revealed his extraordinary attention to detail and his high standards for the craft of songwriting.” Following a brief Q&A, a 10 piece student ensemble complete with horn section and lead vocalist Remi Wolf, performed a powerful rendition of Desmond's classic song “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” for the class. The rendition, produced by the Thornton School's Popular Music Chair Patrice Rushen, was chosen from a vast catalog of Child hits which also include “Living On A Prayer,” “Living La Vida Loca” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” “Desmond’s gift for storytelling as it relates to songwriting truly resonated with those in attendance that day,” said SHOF President & CEO Linda Moran. “Having the students then turn the tables and perform one of his classic hits was pure magic. We are proud of our ongoing partnership with USC, and these Master Session events that Mary Jo Mennella and the West Coast Projects Committee produce are gaining tremendous importance in promoting the Songwriters Hall of Fame outreach to the next generations of creators.” Child left the students with inspiring words: “You're given a gift and it has to get out there for the world, but it only matters if your work has value. Let yourself reinvent music, make new styles that no one has ever heard before. Don't just chase the dragon’s tail… become the head of the dragon.” In addition to being a SHOF Inductee, Desmond Child also serves on a number of Boards including the Songwriters Hall of Fame and ASCAP, and is Chairman of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. Also in attendance at the Master Session on Friday were fellow SHOF Board Member and Chair of West Coast Events Mary Jo Mennella, SHOF West Coast Vice Chair Kathy Spanberger and West Coast Committee Members Barbara Cane, Rebekah Alperin and Casey Robison.