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Hillary Scott

By Dan Kimpel

Hillary Scott: The Lady in Lady Antebellum

Two years since their platinum, self-titled #1 charting debut, Lady Antebellum has ascended as one of country music’s preeminent groups. But despite the band’s demanding schedule of sold-out tours, Hillary Scott believes there is a fundamental responsibility that cannot be ignored. “No matter how busy you get in other aspects of your career, you MUST keep writing,” she insists. “It is like a muscle, and if you take a break for too long you get rusty.”

All three members -- Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood -- are prolific songwriters, and this collaborative alchemy is at the heart of the band. The daughter of country singer Linda Davis and musician Lang Scott, Hillary began working with songwriter/producer Victoria Shaw while still a student in high school. After enlisting Kelley and Haywood to write with her on what was envisioned as a solo project, Lady Antebellum was formed.

Scott says one legendary songwriter is both a dream collaborator and an inspiration. “I would love to write a song with Carole King,” she confirms. “I love her melodies, and lyrically she is in a realm all her own. She’s one of my biggest influences. I love writing with females. There is something about the power that women have to communicate their feelings. They almost always turn into a therapy session for me. Writing with males is also fun too. Guys like to get to the point, which is an important trait when you only have so many lines in a song.” 
Scott does not shy away from mining the drama in her life for song scenarios. “I don’t really put any distance between the two, honestly,” she confesses. “ I’m not going to use names, but I think the more exposed you get, the more real it is. This is where collaborating is so crucial, because whoever I’m writing with helps me reel it in when it gets too specific. There is nothing more inspiring to write about than personal experience, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.”

The three members of Lady Antebellum invite other songwriters into their creative mix. “I Run To You,” co-written by Scott and her band mates along with Tom Douglas, resulted from what Scott describes as  “…one of the most unconventional writing sessions ever. Tom had written out the lyrics in a poem form, and we pretty much, collaboratively, pieced them together like a puzzle and found the melody. It was so fun and pushed me as a writer to always think outside of the box.”

 “Need You Now,” the title cut of Lady Antebellum’s triple platinum second release, exposes poignant heart lines with the words, “It’s a quarter after one, I’m a little drunk and I need you now.” Says Scott,  “I had no idea that this song would do what it did. What I did know though, was that this lyric was relatable to almost everyone, and the melody was very easy to sing along to. There was no way to predict what happened, but I’m so thankful that it did because it changed my life forever!”

Named SESAC’s Songwriter Of The Year in 2008 and 2010, Scott also wrote SESAC’s Song of the Year as “Need You Now” took home top honors at the most recent awards event. Hillary Scott was introduced to the organization by fellow SESAC writer, Victoria Shaw. “Victoria had nothing but wonderful things to say,” Scott confirms. “She and I have worked together since I was 16 years old. We set up a meeting with Tim Fink, and after I saw and heard what a personal, family-feeling organization it was, I was in. Luckily, they signed me at 18, with nothing to show for it! I’m so grateful for their hands on approach. There is nothing like the SESAC family.”

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