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ASCAP EXPO RECAP
By Lauren Jones
Published April 19, 2017

Songwriter Leah Palmer, songwriter Fran Hall, songwriter Rachel Assil, songwriter Vincent Berry musician Tia P. and producer J. Rhodes speak onstage at ‘ASCAP EXPO: Freshman Orientation’ during the 2017 ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO on April 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for ASCAP)

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted its 12th annual “I Create Music” EXPO in Hollywood, CA headlined by Grammy-award winning producers and songwriters was held from April 13-15, 2017. The three-day EXPO has evolved into an incubator for up-and-coming artists from around the world that seeks to catapult and push forward careers through master classes, panels, keynotes and one-on-one sessions with industry leaders.  

“You never know when it’s going to be your moment,” songwriter and producer Vincent Berry II told audience members at the EXPO’s standing-room only “Freshman Orientation” panel. “Your only responsibility is to be ready.”

Berry’s moment came at a friend’s house as he along with the rest of the world watched Beyoncé’s arguably most emotional visual album, “Lemonade.” “Sandcastles,” a ballad about reconciliation and forgiveness was one Berry wrote while homeless in Los Angeles describing the heartbreak he experienced because of a failed relationship with an ex-girlfriend. Little did he know that it would become a groundbreaking single for Queen B and that he would become part of her Grammy-award winning project.  

Berry shared his journey alongside fellow panelist, actor and songwriter Tia P., a native of Los Angeles whose parents are both musicians.  

Songwriter Priscilla Renea speaks onstage at ‘Word Up: Turning Lyrics Into Hits’ during the 2017 ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO on April 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for ASCAP)

“I came to the EXPO last year and I was not really feeling it,” Tia P. admitted honestly. It was not until she started a cypher that morphed from a two-person session to a crowd of 35 that she realized the power of the people she was in the room with.  

Her song, “4 Seats from Beyoncé,” was submitted and played for a room of esteemed panelists last year. This year, Tia P., returned to the EXPO as a panelist. “To go from sitting in the audience a year ago to being a panelist in the exact same room this year is surreal.”  

Tia P.’s story is not isolated as producer J. Rhodes, the moderator of the “Freshman Orientation” panel, agreed that the EXPO completely revamped his mindset and heavily impacted the new direction of his career.  

 “That experience catapulted my career,” said Rhodes. Rhodes attended his first EXPO in 2010 lured by the conversations between musical legends like Quincy Jones, Ludacris, Bill Withers and Justin Timberlake. The Dallas native went home as the EXPO’s beats showcase winner that year.  

(L-R) Songwriter Priscilla Renea, songwriter-producer Jean Baptiste, singer-songwriter Bibi Bourelly, and songwriter-producer Malik Yusef Jones speak onstage at ‘Word Up: Turning Lyrics Into Hits’ during the 2017 ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO on April 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for ASCAP)

“The best part about it is there are new faces every year,” said Rhodes.

Since then, Rhodes produced Lecrae’s Grammy-nominated project, Anomaly, which went gold and scored songs for the major motion picture “Carter High” starring Vivica A. Fox, Charles S. Dutton and Pooch Hall. He has also written a book titled “These Beats Ain’t Free” intended to inspire up-and-coming producers to have a strong business mentality.   

“What I learned is you never know where your career is going to take you,” said Rhodes. “I will always be a producer, but that’s just the root of my tree and from there I have become all these other things.”

Like singer and songwriter, Priscilla Renea who spoke on the “Turning Lyrics into Hits” panel alongside 24-time Grammy-nominated Malik Yusef. Renea’s songwriting credits span across genres, from country to pop, including “Worth It” by female group Fifth Harmony, which reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also co-wrote #1 country hit “Somethin’ Bad,” which is a duet by Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood. “Somethin’ Bad” was unveiled as NBC’s new Sunday Night Football theme song.

Musicians Stevie Wonder and Janelle Monae onstage at Stevie Wonder presented with ‘Key of Life’ Award at the ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Expo on April 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for ASCAP)

“They are next to you, these are the people who are going to be directing, owning, CEOs,” said Renea on how attaining success becomes a reality. She told audience members that she has collaborated with the panelists that sat to her left and right.

This year’s EXPO focused on developing artistry as well as branding and the business side of being a creative artist with panelists who are responsible for or contributed to some of the most iconic albums of this generation including Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade,’ Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo,’ and Rihanna’s ‘Anti.”  

The three-day EXPO fittingly concluded with a conversation between Janelle Monáe and legendary musician Stevie Wonder who was the recipient of the inaugural Key of Life award.   

“Those of us who have been blessed with the gift of expression have to express ourselves lovingly,” Wonder said.

 

Musicians Stevie Wonder and Janelle Monae onstage at Stevie Wonder presented with ‘Key of Life’ Award at the ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Expo on April 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for ASCAP)

Producer-songwriter Vincent Berry meets attendees at ‘R&B/Hip-Hop Feedback’ during the 2017 ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ EXPO on April 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Courtesy: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for ASCAP)

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