Claude Kelly
Hit songwriter Claude Kelly is always on the grind writing some of today’s biggest hits. With a discography that includes writing for Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, to the king of pop Michael Jackson, Claude knows the secret formula to top the charts. Check out this exclusive interview with WHO?MAG as Claude breaks down his process.
by Thato Dadson

WHO?MAG: What got you into songwriting?
CLAUDE KELLY: I’ve always been a lover of music. Actual Songwriting I got into by accident. I never wanted to be a songwriter at all. I went to college for singing and music business. So when I was going into a hard time and I had some friends that got me into writing which helped out and well now im here.

WHO?MAG: What elements did you learn from Berklee that influenced your style today?
CLAUDE KELLY: What I learned the most from Berklee is to study all the styles of music and it really opens your eyes to how music is constructed from words to melodies. That I would say was the best thing I learned from berklee.

WHO?MAG: How do you approach writing for an artist like Jennifer Hudson verses
someone like Miley Cyrus?
CLAUDE KELLY: It’s actually not that difficult. All songs are naturally the same. all I’m doing different is thinking about how would Jennifer Hudson would write a love song over miley cyrus. So its not very hard I just take my time to understand how that artist sounds and what kind of words they use to help bring that out in my writing.

WHO?MAG: Which song have you written do you feel totally explains the “Claude
Kelly” style?
CLAUDE KELLY: I can’t boil it down to 1 song because each song has a piece of me and my style. So I don’t feel it would be fair to me to pick just one.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about songwriting in general in 2010 verses the 60’s or
CLAUDE KELLY: Think they spent more time on working on the art of song writing and melody. I feel that now artist have so much more creativity with song writing. I can tell we are a lot more laid back and comfortable with our writing now than we were back then.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about the comment Miley Cyrus made about not knowing
any Jay-Z songs for “Party in the USA”?
CLAUDE KELLY: You know I kinda don’t really talk about that because I don’t know the context of what she meant.

WHO?MAG: Can you tell me about Michael Jackson and “Hold My Hand”?
CLAUDE KELLY: That’s one of my favorite songs I ever written. The song was initially a demo I had done over a track that Akon had produced. And I had Whitney Huston in mind because I was getting ready to work on her album. So akon heard and loved and kept it. He went out to vegas to go work with Michael and ended up playing him the record and Michael wouldn’t leave until he recorded over it. So when they flew back to Atlanta and played me the track I almost losted it. Because Michael Jackson is my favorite artist of all time. And to hear him singing a song I wrote was a feeling I can’t even explain.

WHO?MAG: What is your process for writing a song?
CLAUDE KELLY: I write songs a number of ways. But the main thing I do is that I write the music on the spot without any paper. I sit with the artist and I find out what kind of mood they are looking for, how they are feeling, what they want to incorporate. Stuff like that.

WHO?MAG: Can you give any advice for upcoming songwriters?
CLAUDE KELLY: My advice is learn as much about music as possible. Make sure you write as much as possible because practice makes perfect. Also the key is to surround yourself with people who are better than you.

WHO?MAG: What’s next for Claude Kelly?
CLAUDE KELLY: Ive written for Christina Aguilera, Fantasia, and David Cook with their albums coming out. Im also work on Brittney, and Kelly Clarkson. I have a lot of new artist ive written for. I also wrote songs for Christiana’s New Movie coming out with Cher. Im also in the beginning stages on working on my own artist project. With all that said I think it’s going to be a better year than last year for me.