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April 3rd, 2009:

Holland-Dozier-Holland Honoured

From a recent American Songwriter Blog post by Evan Schlansky, here is an article about one of my favourite songwriting teams and the award they’ll be receiving in June:

Legendary Motown songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland will receive the coveted Johnny Mercer Award at the 2009 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards dinner on June 18th at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The trio, who wrote indelible hits for the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye are considered key architects in the Motown sound. Together they penned Where Did Our Love Go?, Baby, I Need Your Loving, You Can’t Hurry Love, Stop In The Name Of Love, Baby Love, Can’t Hurry Love, You Keep Me Hanging On, Nowhere To Run, Same Old Song, and Can’t Help Myself, to name just a few. In total, the team wrote 70 Top 10 songs from 1962 to 1967, including 50 #1 hits.

“Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland’s massive stream of classic songs changed the face of popular music in a way that has endured, creating a style that is highly influential and relevant today,” said Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman/CEO Hal David in a statement. “The Songwriters Hall of Fame is proud to bestow our prestigious Johnny Mercer Award upon this groundbreaking team.”

The Johnny Mercer Award is exclusively reserved for a songwriter who has already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer (who’s songs include “Stardust” and “Moon River”). Past recipients of the award include Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Jimmy Webb, and Paul Simon.

Holland-Dozier-Holland… May the Muse stay with you…

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Songwriting – Pay It Forward

I enjoyed reading this article from a Nova Scotia local newspaper about songwriting as an art that can be passed along. Kudos to songwriter Steven Bowers (pictured) who is working with youth and passing along the craft/art of songwriting:

Equipped with good information and persistence, young musicians can forge a path as a songwriter – even if it’s not the career that a guidance counsellor would typically suggest.
Singer/songwriter Steven Bowers has been at the trade for about a decade, and still he says it’s a continual learning process. But at this point, he’s comfortable imparting some of the experience he’s earned at a songwriter’s workshop for several high school students this Saturday at Glasgow Square.

“We want to teach them about the business of songwriting. It’s not really something that’s focused on around here – basically how to connect with other songwriters, how to get your stuff heard,” he says.

He remembers back at the very beginning – writing music but not really having any idea of how to get people to listen to it. In high school he had an outlet through school programs, but without knowing anywhere else to look for performing, there was little opportunity.

“When you’re in high school, you can’t play a lot of the pubs. So, with the exception of local groups that put on coffee houses, you don’t really know many avenues to get your stuff out there,” he said. “The open-mic circuit was really big for me in Halifax. A lot of kids, if they are going off to university or to college, most will have open-mics at the local campus bars they can take advantage of.”

But even with the local notoriety that comes with frequenting an open-mic – or hosting one, as Bowers did – there’s still a distance to travel between pub staple and marketable songwriter. That involves networking with other musicians and knowing organizations which exist to put people in the music business in touch with funding opportunities and information. And it’s those angles Bowers, along with fellow musician Christina Martin are hoping to impart.
“Now that you’ve established yourself as a performer, you have to have some kind of product. If you want to sell your music – and if you want to be a professional songwriter versus someone who’s a hobbyist, you might not be interested in recording your stuff,” he said.

“But, from there, you need a venue to sell your music, people aren’t going to buy it sight unseen. And even if you want to go the radio route and not perform in your life, you still need to connect with the organization.”

The Muse is with you Steven… Inspirational! Keep the faith!

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