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Bryan-Michael Cox

By Dan Kimpel

Bryan-Michael Cox | The Soul of Sincerity

Grammy-award winning songwriter/producer Bryan-Michael Cox works with a dazzling constellation of artists that includes Monica, Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston, Fantasia Barrino, Mary J. Blige, Omarion, Ciara, Amerie, Fergie and Toni Braxton. A seven-time SESAC Songwriter of the Year, a 2009 inductee in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame (where he joins legends like Ray Charles, Johnny Mercer and Otis Redding), Cox is the co-writer of massive hits like Usher’s “Burn.” “Confessions, Pt. 2” and “U Got It Bad”; Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You,” and Mariah Carey’s “Don’t Forget About Us.”

Bryan-Michael CoxCox says inspiration arrives when artists talk about their lives. “It’s one thing to come in with a song, but it’s another thing to write something that the artist can relate to. But if they can relate to the song, then their listeners can relate to them.” He notes that his background as a pianist informs his melodic sensibilities. “That’s why I like so many genres of music: I live and die by the melody.”

In Houston, Texas, Cox attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Moving to Georgia, he enrolled as a music major at Clark Atlanta University and landed an unpaid music industry internship. Eventually, he met producer Jermaine Dupri, whom he credits for teaching him the difference between production and songwriting.  “JD taught me to let the song breathe. It’s about people singing along.”

Many of Cox’s signature hits have been with female artists. He says that growing up in a household full of women provided a special perspective. “My mom had eight sisters and they all had daughters. I was around them all the time. I heard everybody’s struggles, and trials and tribulations with whatever men they were in love with. I was able to tap into that and to figure things out.”

Cox is currently tracking his debut as an artist. “It’s been in the works for a minute and I’m almost there,” he notes. “Someone asked me a long time ago, ‘Why don’t you make an album?’ I said, ‘Because I don’t have anything to say as an artist.’ All of a sudden, I started writing songs and I have something to say. I’m not signed to a label yet, so I’m taking my time.”

Meanwhile, Cox fans can watch his new online video diary, The Studio Exposed where, on the show’s premiere episode, he reveals that staying in the consciousness of the industry is a prerequisite to his measure of success. “It’s a balance,” he affirms. “I would love to be in the studio all day, but you have to interact, to keep your relationships solid.” Introduced to the organization by his mentor, Greg Curtis, and signed when he was 16 years old, Cox maintains an enduring bond with SESAC. “Coming up as a developing writer, I would have been lost in the sauce at the other organizations,” he says. 

For songwriters, Cox observes that channeling creativity into a commercial craft is a key career component. “Write from your heart, but know that you are in direct competition with other songs. You want to be creative and artistic and be true to that, but you want to make money, too. Don’t sell yourself out. Stay true and put it in a commercial package so people can digest it.”

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