Perhaps one of the most exciting panels at GRAMMY Camp® is the Artist Story gathering, where popular and musically successful recording artists share stories of their success and what inspires them to continue doing music. I had the special privilege to sit in on a learning session exclusively for the Singer/Songwriter track of GRAMMY Camp. It was held in what GRAMIMY Campers refer to as “booth," sort of like the commons area of GRAMMY Camp. Speaking to the campers today was Colbie Caillat, a self-made internet sensation, and Lamont Dozier, dubbed by many the number one Songwriter in the world, mediated by the Singer/Songwriter track instructor, Chris Sampson. “Booth” holds about 100 chairs, seats usually filled by the entire GRAMMY Camp company, but with only 18 of these seats occupied for this particular occasion, it was the perfect setting for an intimate chat with the future of music.
All 15 of the young Singer/Songwriters listened attentively as the two panelists shared their views and preferences on the creative process of songwriting and the significance of artist collaboration. “It is hard to work with someone you don’t really know,” said Caillat. "But it is important to learn how people think.” Lamont Dozier nods in agreement; he’s had more than a fair share of artist collaborations. He recalls times working with the Holland Brothers when he was part of the singing group Dozier-Holland-Dozier, with which he wrote a handful of number one hits. He explains to the Campers that not only did they help each other write songs and toss around ideas for music, but they shared life views and exchanged philosophies in the process. “Listening is an art form in itself. When you analyze your songs and break them down, they should have a meaning," he said. So one might ask oneself, how does a songwriter with over 54 number one hits deal with what other songwriters call writers block? In his own words; “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. If I get writer’s block it’s because I just got lazy or didn’t want to follow the process of writing a song…I just keep writing until something materializes.” Dozier know’s what it’s like to be young in the music industry, for he signed with Atlantic Records when he was only 15 years of age.
After a brief q-and-a session with the Singer/Songwriters and listening to them perform some of their original material, Dozier left GRAMMY Camp with this final message: “Have a good work ethic. You have to work seven days a week. If you’re putting anything else before the music, if you’re really serious about making it a profession, you have to put in seven days a week. And I’m always thinking music first of all. I have other extensions of my life, but music is always first, because from that I’ve learned about writing, I’ve learned to watch and listen to what goes around the world. And I gather bits and pieces from the world to enhance or keep my knowledge about things current. To be a good writer, you have to know about what’s going on in the world.”