Friday, April 23, 2010

Urban Music Songwriters Offer Insight To Making Hit Records At ASCAP 'I Create Music' Expo

via Digital Music News

Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell, co-author of recent smashes "Umbrella" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," was quite candid on the matter. Harrell told stories of painting houses to pay the bills, and only experiencing serious success more recently within his broader career.

Harrell has been active since the early 90s, and overnight success has never taken so many moons. "That's a long time, but I can look at a lot of people that have known me for years, and they always say the same thing: 'you never gave up, you kept going'," Harrell relayed. "But I was realistic that there were other things that I had to do. If that meant painting a house, I'd go paint that house."

Others told stories that shed light on a lifestyle that is anything but creative bliss. "A song a day keeps the IRS away," said Jane't Sewell-Ulepic, a co-writer behind the recent smash, "Empire State of Mind."

Still, some common themes emerged, including the importance of tapping into powerful emotions that listeners can relate to. Paul Williams, chairman of ASCAP and a well-known songwriter, joked that an artist emerging from a romantic break-up is "like a cornucopia" of creativity, while C. Tricky Stewart noted that great songs often carry an "emotion that strikes a chord with a lot of people."

Suddenly, everyday conversations can become the material for a great ditty. "Hit conversations lead to hit songs," Stewart continued. Tricky is a frequent collaborator with both Harrell and the Dream, an urban hit-making combination.


(Tricky) Stewart said that when working with a recording artist, pre-conceived notions can be the death of creativity. When writing "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," he was inspired by the relationship between Jay-Z and Beyonce before they were married. "I mean, it's Beyonce," he laughed. "Put a ring on it."

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