Ai LIVE: Grammy-nominated Allan Rich Discusses Songwriting, Collaboration in Music
What can you expect from a class taught by a songwriter for Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand and James Ingram? In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez speaks with Grammy nominated songwriter Allan Rich about his prolific musical career and 30-year collaboration with music partner Jud Friedman.
They also talk about Rich’s course, “The Art of Collaboration in Songwriting” that he presented at The Art Institutes. The class, which was open to students in all majors, focused on the process by which songwriters collaborate—from the initial meeting to the writing process and soliciting feedback. To wrap up the course, students presented their work so that all could hear the final products.
Special guests included Jud Friedman as well as Brett Leland McLaughlin who creates scores for RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Rich describes the course as fun and challenging—but most importantly, it made students step outside of their comfort zones. He adds that chance meetings have been key to his success. “You never know where the success is going to come from. You have to put your work out there.”
Rich mentions a number of times when he’s experienced career surprises—including the story behind the immensely popular song “Run to You” from the movie “The Bodyguard.” Movie execs put out a call for a break-up song. Rich, who was experiencing the breakdown of a 10-year relationship, used his personal experience to pen lyrics in collaboration with Friedman. Clive Davis called to tell him that both he and Whitney Houston loved the song.
Then he received another call. The movie director changed the scene and suddenly, the theme shifted away from a break-up. Rich had to quickly rethink and rewrite the lyrics to match the new vision. The work paid off and the song sold 42 million copies.
Rich also recounts his experience seeking out James Ingram to record a song. It took nearly a year to hear back. “A songwriter has to be a detective. I found James Ingram’s old address and coldly sent this song to him,” Rich states. At the time, Ingram was on tour and didn’t listen to the song for months. But it made an impact on him, and he connected with Rich to record it—and it hit #1.
Rich wraps up his interview by talking about the importance of networking and taking chances. He says that while he’s been very lucky in the industry, he had to pay his dues. His first jobs, while trying to break into the industry, were working as a waiter and a shoe salesman. Through the sales job, he met a person who would eventually change his life and help him to achieve his goals.
Rich admits that he didn’t initially know that he was going to be a songwriter, but his passion led him in that direction. “I had something I wanted to say. So I wrote a lyric.” And that’s how it all began.
Interested in learning more about the music industry, songwriting, or Audio Production? Find out about the courses offered at The Art Institutes that can help you to fine-tune your ear for music.
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