Despite the fact that it was a Sunday and Fathers Day, Webster Hall in New York City was packed to the rafters for the SHOF Songwriters-In-The-Round, the first celebration of the three-day New Music Seminar. Hosted and produced by SHOF inductee and legendary songwriter Desmond Child, the afternoon event was designed as a window into his career and craft, as well as those of songwriters Eric Bazilian, Claude Kelly and Jodi Marr.
After a warm introduction by SHOF Board member John Titta, Desmond began by performing a riveting acoustic version of “Livin’ On A Prayer,” singing and playing the keyboard. As he explained; that song, which was made famous by Bon Jovi, is being cited as New Jersey’s unofficial state anthem. He then introduced his guests, and each played and sang a couple of their signature hits, talking about how they came to write them and what was the inspiration.
Eric Bazilian said his and Desmond’s writing approaches are different in that, while Desmond begins with a title and the song flows from that, Eric starts with a guitar riff and the lyrics “find” him.
Claude Kelly performed “Grenade” (co-written with Bruno Mars, Brody Brown and Andrew Wyatt). He then talked about how they had just sat together and began throwing around stream-of consciousness-type scenarios and phrases, deciding to write some of them down, and subsequently crafting together that hit song.
Jodi Marr sang “Grace Kelly” and said she likes to sit with an artist to find out who they are, then tailors songs to fit them.
The intimate event ended with Bazilian playing his song “One Of Us,” made famous by Joan Osborne, with the entire audience singing and clapping along.
Directly afterward, the annual Abe Olman Scholarships for excellence in songwriting, the Holly Prize and the NYU Steinhardt Scholar prizes were awarded. SHOF Board Member Robbin Ahrold presided over the festivities, introducing each presenter and giving a short history of the scholarship program. Loretta Munoz (ASCAP) presented the Abe Olman Scholarship to Jeremy Current and Jody Mulgrew. Samantha Cox (BMI) presented to Lyle Divinski and Bebe Rexha, and Trevor Gale (SESAC) bestowed the award upon Shea Rose. NYU’s Ron Sadoff awarded Andrew (AJ) Smith as the NYU Steinhardt Scholar, and Songmasters’ Regan McCarthy gave the Holly Prize to Emily King.