Lamont Dozier Returns To USC For Songwriters Hall Of Fame Master Session

1988 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee and 2009 Johnny Mercer Award winner Lamont Dozier returned to the campus for a Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Session on Friday, February 26th. Lamont, who had previously served as an Artist in Residence Professor at USC/Thornton where he was actively involved in creating their Popular Music Major Program, reunited with the moderator and close friend of the SHOF, Chris Sampson, who is Vice Dean of Contemporary Music at the USC Thornton School. With over 150 students in attendance, Lamont shared numerous stories about his illustrious career as a songwriter/producer and his early days as a recording artist. Lamont recounted his childhood being surrounded with musical influences and avoiding his aunt's strict piano teacher, then going on to form one of his earliest musical groups, The Romeos, before signing with Anna Gordy's label. That led him to Motown, where he connected with his fellow Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees Brian & Eddie Holland to form the iconic songwriting trio of Holland Dozier Holland. Referencing the inspiration for chart topping hits such as “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Stop in the Name of Love” and “Can't Help Myself,” the class was dazzled by the string of 13 #1 hits for the Supremes and over 54 #1 hits in total. Dozier encouraged the students to always find 'the muse in the room' which sparks his ideas for words and music, and always try to be open to ideas and ready to write - anywhere, any time. Chris Sampson spoke of how the story of Motown actually IS the 3rd year songwriting course where the students spend the entire semester studying Motown's rich history, founded and built by the legendary hitmaker, Berry Gordy. “When developing the curriculum for the Popular Music program, Lamont described in detail the working dynamic between songwriting, producer, artist and rhythm section at Motown,” said Sampson. “It dawned on me that re-creating that would be the ultimate learning experience for a student.” “Lamont is a true role model for our students,” Sampson continued. “His work ethic and dedication to songwriting is something they all aspire to.” Patrice Rushen, USC's Program Chair of Popular Music produced a glorious medley in tribute to Lamont's unprecedented career performed entirely by Chris's first year students in the program. Afterwards Lamont generously devoted additional time with the students, signing the charts they performed in honor, including smash hits such as “Baby Love,” “Can't Help Myself,” “Stop In The Name Of Love” and “How Sweet It Is” which Lamont then joined in singing with the students. “Lamont Dozier’s return to his old stomping grounds at USC was pure inspiration for the students and all who attended,” said SHOF President & CEO Linda Moran. “He brought his singular musical styling to life for them, which they paid back in kind with their tribute performance of several of his hits. We could not be more proud of our ongoing partnership with USC, and applaud these important Master Session events that Mary Jo Mennella and the West Coast Projects Committee are creating to further the Songwriters Hall of Fame outreach.” Dozier emphasized his formula for the longevity of his career as one of continually writing, and encouraged the student to practice perseverance and never giving up. Lamont mentioned that he is traveling quite a bit to London to work with many songwriters in one of his favorite cities, and cited influences and mutual respect for key collaborations he's had in the U.K., such as Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. Dozier is presently working at Sony London, with many musical projects in the works. The session was attended by SHOF Board Member/Chair, SHOF West Coast Projects Committee Mary Jo Mennella, Barbara Cane, Kathy Spanberger and Casey Robison from the SHOF West Coast Projects Committee. The association forged between USC and the Songwriters Hall of Fame has featured numerous Hall of Fame inductees, Starlight and Abe Olman winners including David Foster, Graham Nash, Bill Withers, Ralph Peer and Donovan, Benny Blanco, Billy Steinberg and Linda Perry.