By Peter Cronin
Catt Gravitt: Sweet Sound Of Success
They say that good things come to those who wait, and you’ll get no argument on that point from Catt Gravitt. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter has long since paid her dues in the writer’s rooms of Music Row, working her way through three publishing deals and a slew of album cuts with artists ranging from Trace Adkins to Rascal Flatts. But for all her successes, with no hit single releases, she’s barely mangaged to maintain those publishing deals. Finally, after more than a decade in the race, Gravitt hit the Music City trifecta, landing three consecutive country singles on the charts, along with a No. 1 smash on the Contemporary Christian charts.
“Years ago, a friend of mine said, ‘Catt, you’re leaving the artist thing behind and going into songwriting, and it’s going to take about 10 years,’” Gravitt says. “Literally, it was 10 years later that I got that No. 1.”
Gravitt’s artist career began in her hometown of Coal Valley, Illinois, just down the road from the John Deere factory where her dad spent his entire career. Her first musical inclinations were percussive, banging out heavy metal as the local teenage “chick drummer.” Gravitt thought she’d be heading into the TV news industry after graduating with a journalism degree form Eastern Illinios University, but a summer job singing at Six Flags changed everything. One audition led to another, and the fledgling performer ended up at Nashville’s Opryland, sharing stages with future members of Little Texas and Diamond Rio.
“Those guys were talking about getting a record deal and all that,” she says. “When I went to Opryland, that’s when my eyes were opened.”
Bit with the performing bug, she toured the world with a country band on the USO circuit and spent time performing in Las Vegas before landing in LA as part of a “pre-Spice Girls” act. When the band fell apart, Gravitt found work singing demos, one of which caught the ear of Trisha Yearwood producer Garth Fundis. Gravitt was soon in Nashville, signed to a label development deal and collaborating with some of the biggest songwriters in town.
“You get set up with all the hit songwriters,” she says. “To them I was just another artist on an indie label, but people were saying I had fresh titles and unusual ways of looking at things. It was nerve-racking but very exciting because I was learning from them.”
These days, the situation is reversed. With that No. 1 Christian hit (Natalie Grant’s “In Better Hands”) and simultaneous singles from country star Jake Owen and up-and-comers Eden’s Edge and Jana Kramer, Gravitt has become that veteran who’s frequently tapped for co-writes with upcoming artists. Her knack for novel ideas and soaring melodies is also landing her cuts (and singles!) with pop stars like Kelly Clarkson and Adam Lambert. For all of her hard work, Gravitt may have finally found her own personal secret ingredient to songwriting success.
“I just make sure I have fun in that writer’s room,” she says. “Wherever you have the most fun, that’s where it’s going to happen. And what’s not to be joyful about?”