“What’s a song without lyrics?” This question echoed throughout the evening as the 2013 SESAC Pop Music Awards honored songwriters with heartfelt speeches, musical performances and fine dining.
Some of the industry’s biggest names—Michelle Williams, Swizz Beatz, Melanie Fiona—praised the pens behind the hits. “People like Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross didn’t write their songs, but they connected to people and they had writers gifted enough to tell their story in a way that was believable,” said PJ Morton, a R&B songwriter and Maroon 5’s newest keyboardist. Rico Love, Nate “Danja” Hills, Nikhil Seetharam, Jacob Luttrell, Psy and more were recognized for writing hit songs in 2012.
Guests agreed that writers seldom receive proper praise for a song’s success. “We’re probably the most under credited people in the business, yet it all starts with us,” said Angela Hunte, a Grammy-winning SESAC songwriter. Hunte has worked with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Snoop Lion and helped pen Alicia Keys’ NY anthem “Empire State of Mind” (when asked what inspired her, she simply replied, “New York. Is that corny?”).
By the end of the night, Rico Love swept the house, walking away with awards for songs like “Heart Attack” by Trey Songz, “Mr. Wrong” by Mary J. Blige, Melanie Fiona’s “4 AM,” Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” and the coveted title of Songwriter of the Year. Michelle Williams presented the latter honor. “Sometimes as artists we know what we want to say, but sometimes it takes another writer,” she said.
Daniel Glass, CEO and Founder of Glass Note Records and the evening’s prestigious Visionary Award honoree, left the crowd with expressions of gratitude for the award: “It’s the ultimate honor. I’ve learned from the beginning of my career to protect and really embrace and love what songwriters do, and I think that’s what SESAC does.” —Stacy-Ann Ellis
Photo Credit: Johnny Nunez and Shawn Ehlers