FROM LEFT: Bryan Michael Cox; John Ondrasik; Q-Tip.
Dave Bassett The songwriter is on a roll with Shinedown’s top 10 hit “Second Chance” and The Maine’s latest single, “Growing Up,” among others.
Without question, U2 has had the greatest impact on my musical career. I was fresh out of college, working in commercial banking. One fateful night while attending a U2 concert in Chicago, Bono pulled me out of the crowd of 20,000, handed me his black Telecaster and invited me to join them in a rendition of Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” I quit the bank soon after, formed a band and moved to LA to start my musical journey.
Bryan Michael Cox The Grammy Award-winning Warner/Chappell songwriter and producer was named one of the top 10 producers of the decade in 2010 by Billboard.
There are so many artists who have influenced me, but if I had to go with one, it would be Prince. Musically he embodies everything I desire to be. He’s innovative, he makes incredible choices in his compositions progression-wise and he found a way to make his eclectic [sound and personality] marketable to the mainstream.
Dave Haywood & Charles Kelley The Grammy Award-winning Warner/Chappell songwriters and members of Lady Antebellum saw both their self-titled debut album and follow-up, Need You Now, certified platinum.
HAYWOOD: The songs and guitar picking of James Taylor probably influenced me the most... well-written songs with great acoustic guitar, amazing vocal melodies and lyrics. He’s definitely one of my biggest influences.
KELLEY: Like so many other artists, I’d have to say Tom Petty. The main thing I take away from Petty’s music is that a song doesn’t have to involve complicated chords or self-indulgent lyrics to [have a] big impact.
Marcus Johnson The DC native’s latest record, Poetically Justified, debuted at number 10 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts, his seventh record to crack the top 20.
The most influential musician in my life would have to be my high school band director, Ray Harry, at [Montgomery] Blair High School in Silver Spring. He recognized my talent and selflessly pushed me beyond where I thought I [could] go as an aspiring musician. I must also give a shout-out to my piano-playing mother. She literally whipped my butt into shape on the piano and in the classroom. I owe them both!
Matt Nathanson Following his hit Some Mad Hope, the Stage Three singer-songwriter is at work on his next record. There’s a joke that everyone who ever saw the Sex Pistols play live in the ’70s formed a band; that when kids first saw punk rock, they saw themselves up on stage. They felt empowered to let out what was locked inside them. In U2, I see my own potential. The [group] shows me that limitations can be an asset, not a hindrance. In music, geniuses are rare. But what is rarer, and infinitely more inspiring to me, is when artists stretch beyond what they think they are capable of. U2 does this repeatedly. They understand that the only way to get something extraordinary is by envisioning what could be... not settling for what is.
John Ondrasik The EMI Platinum singer-songwriter known as Five for Fighting has also penned songs for The Backstreet Boys and Josh Groban.
I’d have to say that beyond any singer-songwriter, my biggest influence was my father. His work ethic combined with a gentle decency allowed him to realize the American dream. Though I’ve never heard him sing a note, his example is found in many of my songs.
Q-Tip The Songs Music rapper, songwriter and producer best known for A Tribe Called Quest has also written for The Black Eyed Peas and Prince.
It’s hard to say which artist has influenced me the most because I have so many [influences], but if I had to choose it would be between Stevie [Wonder], Michael Jackson and James Brown, and all for the same reason: their emotional commitment to their work.
President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, David Israelite is the chief advocate for songwriters and music publishers in the nation’s capital. And while he knows a thing or two about good music, Israelite confesses to being a pretty bad guitar player.