As the old saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword”. But in the music biz, writers are often lost in the shuffle, stuck behind the producers and of course the performers. It’s doubly difficult for women and triple for black women to get the props they deserve. But here at CFTC we’re always here to rep for those who rep for The Culture so check out our list of 5 black female songwriters behind some of your favorite songs.
PS – And you know those pop hits you find yourself strangely drawn to? It’s probably because they were written by a black woman.
Ester is a true vet in the game. Crwoned “The Song Factory”, Dean has written songs for everyone from Rihanna to Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj to Drake. Discovered while singing in the crowd at a Gap Band concert as a teen, Dean started out working with producer Tricky Stewart then Polo Da Don. She then hit it big and writing multiple Number 1 Billboard hits. She’s shown her versatility by writing pop hits for Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. Currently she’s a judge on the NBC songwriting competition show Songland. And probably in a studio somewhere working with your favorite artist.
At 21, Nija is the youngest writer on the list and has only been working professionaly since 2017. But make no mistake, she is one of the most in-demand songwriters in the game. She’s already worked with Beyonce and Jay-Z (“Heard About Us”), Summer Walker (“Potential”), Chris Brown (“No Guidance”), Meek Mill (“24/7”), and many more. Oh and she’s already been nominated for three Grammys. Not bad for a young woman who was in the middle of her studies to become a writer at NYU just three years ago.
A dynamic duo made up of Denisia “Blu June” Andrews and Brittany “Chi” Coney, NOVA Wav is the talented team behind Grammy-nominated projects Everything Is Love by The Carters and Kelly Clarkson’s Meaning of Life. Their catalog also includes Ariana Grande’s “In My Head” and Kehlani’s “Feels. While they can knock out club bangers like “Megatron” for Nicki Minaj, the duo is known for writing more emotional and introspective songs focusing on the trials and tribulations of being a woman. And in an industry where most songs (even the ones sung by women) are written by men, NOVA Wav is a necessary breath of fresh air.
An incredibly private person, Starrah doesn’t participate in many interviews or even take pictures and has created quite a mystic around herself. She started gaining buzz selling hooks demos on Instagram for $100 to $150. Those rates would become steals. And once she created the hook for Travis Scott and Young Thug’s “Pick Up The Phone” her career took off. She moved on to writing Halsey’s “Now or Never” and Rihanna’s “Needed Me”. She’s also brought her innovative hip-hop sensibilities to pop writing the monster hits “Havana” by Canilla Cabello and “Girls Like You” by Marron 5.
Tayla Parx began her career as a child actress before transitioning into singing and then songwriting. She broke out as a songwriter in 2015 when she penned the Fifth Harmon hit “Boss”. That opened up doors she quickly proceeded to completely kick down. In 2018 alone, Parx co-wrote three Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles; “Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani, “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande, and “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco. Perhaps the writer with the most varied resume on the list, besides hip-hop, R&B, and rock/pop stars, Parx has even written for K-Pop bands including the worldwide phenoms BTS.
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Written by @TalentedMrFord