2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Donovan and peermusic Chairman and CEO Ralph Peer presented a stellar Master Session at USC on October 24th for students enrolled in their Popular Music curriculum. The session was once again moderated by USC’s Chris Sampson, Vice Dean of the Division of Contemporary Music.
Donovan is about to celebrate his 50th year as a peermusic writer/artist, and throughout the day he enthusiastically shared his amazing stories, songwriting philosophy, extraordinary string of chart topping hits and keys to sustaining career success. Ralph Peer shared anecdotes of their long history together, and the students viewed a recent GE commercial featuring Donovan’s classic song “Catch the Wind,” which showcased the publishers role in promoting catalog gems by providing exposure of a song to a new generation of fans.
Donovan enthusiastically provided an in depth songwriting clinic, citing his early studies of folk and blues music, and the evolution of his distinct sound, by incorporating calypso, world music and many other genres into his craft. Donovan emphasized to students that knowledge of the roots of music, and his influence by the Carter Family and similar artists of the day, shaped his musical journey and is an essential component of the songwriting process.
The students were treated to a live performance, along with a display of how key chord progressions were featured in so many of the classic hits of popular music. Following the session, the class engaged in a provocative Q&A with the masters of their craft.
“Having the art and craft of songwriting expertly discussed and demonstrated by Donovan, combined with Ralph Peer’s explanation of the role of a publisher, made for a unique Master Session,” said SHOF President/CEO Linda Moran. “We are proud of our affiliation with USC and all of the important work Mary Jo Mennella and the West Coast Projects Committee are accomplishing to further the Songwriters Hall of Fame outreach into the student and fledgling songwriter communities.”
“Today’s SHOF Master Session provided so much more than just a songwriting workshop,” said Sampson. “Hearing about Donovan’s development and influence as an artist in addition to his long standing partnership with peermusic, students received incredible insight into the creative as well as business aspects of songwriting.”
As the fifth in a continuing series of programs in association with USC, the Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions have previously presented classes by SHOF inductees David Foster, Billy Steinberg and Graham Nash and Hal David Starlight recipient Benny Blanco. In attendance from the Songwriters Hall of Fame were Board Member and West Coast Chair, Mary Jo Mennella, and West Coast Committee members Randy Poe and Casey Robison.
Donovan and Ralph were supported at the session by key members of the peermusic family including Kathy Spanberger (President & COO, SHOF West Coast Committee member), Nigel Elderton ( President Europe and UK Managing Director), Mary Megan Peer (President, Asia Pacific & Strategic Markets), Jerome Spence (Sr. Creative Director, Film & TV) and Kara Wright (Manager, Catalog and New Media).