SIEDAH GARRETT IS NOMINATED FOR "BEST ORIGINAL SONG" OSCAR FOR "REAL IN RIO" FROM THE ANIMATED MOVIE "RIO."
Lana K. Wilson-Combs
If you've listened to pop and R&B hit songs by Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Will.i.am, Roberta Flack, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, Jessica Simpson, Jordan Sparks or Jamie Foxx, chances are they were probably either written or produced by Siedah Garrett.
The accomplished singer/songwriter and producer has been a major force in the music industry for more than 25 years.
Siedah co-wrote Michael Jackson's enormous hit, "Man in the Mirror" from his 1987 album "Bad." She also sang the chart-topping single, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with Jackson and even performed with "The King of Pop" on his "Dangerous" world tour.
In 2007, Garrett penned two songs which landed on the "Dreamgirls" movie soundtrack. One of them, "Love You I Do" performed by Jennifer Hudson, earned Garrett an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Song"( and a Grammy win).
Now, Garrett is ready for her close-up once again and will attend the 84th Academy Awards Feb. 26 since garnering her second "Music (Original Song)" Oscar nomination for "Real in Rio" from the 2011 blockbuster animated feature film, "Rio." Garrett, co-wrote "Real in Rio" with Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown.
N2Entertainment.net recently spoke with Garrett by phone from her home in Los Angeles. Garrett talked about her Oscar nomination for "Real in Rio" and discussed her "Artist Share" music program and her longevity in the music business. She also shared some of her songwriting secrets as well as what she learned from her mentor Quincy Jones and what singer she'd love to work with next.
Here's what else Garrett had to say.
Q. This is your second time in the Oscars spotlight. Is it just as exciting as the first?
A. I'm more nervous than excited this time around. My heart starts racing when I start thinking about it. It's crazy.
Q. On your Oscar nominated song "Real in Rio" you collaborated with Sergio Mendes. The two of you go way back. What was it like working with him again?
A. It was wonderful working with Sergio. My first music tour was with him. And I learned a lot from him. It's amazing to see someone who has been in music for the last 50 years. Quincy Jones has been around for at least 60. And to me that says a lot about their artistry. To work with both of them and see them still produce great music is a real honor.
Q. You however, clearly have the "Midas Touch" too when it comes to writing hits for artists. What's your secret and the art to great songwriting?
A. I was taught early on that the more you can do well, the more valued you'd be in this business. Once I get an assignment from a director or composer, I try and give that person the mood for the song. As long as I can deliver they would always call me back to do more work for them. It's really about delivery. I'm like Ford. Quality is job one. (Lots of laughter). In terms of songwriting, I learned the craft while working with Quincy Jones. I was doing all the producers and songwriters demos. I'll never forget on the song, "Don't Look Any Further," it was supposed to be performed by Chaka Khan and Dennis Edwards, but they couldn't catch up with Chaka. I had completed a demo with vocals for that record and they decided to go with mine instead. My demo tape was used in the final recording. So for all the aspiring musicians who think demos aren't important, they are so wrong. (Lots of Laughter). What happens is once the person listening to the demo likes what they hear; they get demo love and don't want to change a thing on it. That was the case with me. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and wound up with a hit record with Dennis Edwards. Amazing.
Q. Do you remember the first song you wrote?
A. Oh yeah. It was called "Best Boyfriend." It was so trite and received no radio play. But it was mine. I wrote it.
Q. Smokey Robinson recently told me that when people ask him what he does when he hears one of his records on the radio, he tells them that he turns the radio up loud. Do you still enjoy hearing some of your old and new songs on the radio?
A. Now see Smokey is absolutely right. That's an honest answer. Yeah I turn up the radio too. (Lots of laughter.) Even when I hear some of my commercial voice overs come on I turn it up. (Lots of laughter). I'm the voice of some Toyota commercials in the Southland and I've also done some jingles for them too. Yeah, Smokey is definitely right. I appreciate my work.
Q. Not every singer/songwriter can adapt to various music styles. You are still a significant player in the music game. What do you attribute your longevity to?
A. Not being afraid to step out of my comfort zone and never thinking that I can't learn something new.
Q. We're nearly three months into 2012 and have lost a few musical giants, most recently Whitney Houston. You worked with many people throughout your career. Did you ever do anything with Whitney?
A. I never did but was really looking forward to the opportunity one day. I was definitely a big fan of hers. Mervyn Warren who I have worked with did collaborate with Whitney on "The Preacher's Wife" movie soundtrack.
Q. Speaking of all the people you've collaborated with, is there anyone left that you're eager to work with?
A. Prince. Prince. Prince. Did I mention Prince? Would love, love to work with him.
Q. Have you told Prince that you want to work with him?
A. No, but I never let Michael Jackson know that I wanted to work with him either and then we finally got together and did "Man in the Mirror" and I went on tour with him and we hit it off just great.
Q. You have a music project in full swing called "Artist Share." What's it about?
A. ArtistShare is a fan funded platform where fans can see up close and personal the process that music is created. My fans are privy to my songwriting process. They can attend recording sessions and see how everything all comes together. They can participate on so many levels. It's really a great avenue to connect. Those interested can find out more about ArtistShare by logging on to www.ArtistShare.com.
Q. Since you've achieved so much in your career and continue to do so, did you ever imagine having such great success starting out?
A. No, I never knew I could dream this high. I was always too busy trying to stay out of my own way.
Q. What' else do you have on deck?
A. Well, I was recently tapped to write a few songs for the "Rio 2" movie soundtrack and I am so excited about that. I'm working on that now.