Scottish Songwriter/Producer/Musician Brings His Magic to Nashville
By Kay West
Google "Simon Reid" and you might be surprised at what pops up. Nashville's Simon Reid certainly was. His wife Gaynor was a bit alarmed. "Is there something you're not telling me?" she asked him after she googled her husband and found the other Simon Reid, a British Lothario who swindled multiple women before his devious deeds were uncovered. "He chose to use his talents in other ways," says Reid with a laugh.
Reid's talents are many---musician, songwriter, engineer and producer—and took seed in his native Scotland when his parents gave their six-year-old son a keyboard. Adding guitar to his repertoire, he immersed himself in his high school music program, then moved on to Edinburgh Napier University to study, earning a BA degree in Popular Music in 2006. It was outside of the classroom that Reid began meeting the people, doing the work and building the relationships that would form the stepping stones to Nashville.
His first high-profile success as a writer was a first place finish in the Pacific Songwriting Competition (Pop/Ballad category) for his composition "Like You Said." He made it to the finalist round on the BBC Radio2/BASCA New Songwriters Academy, performing at an invitation-only UK music industry showcase in London. He crossed paths there with British native, Nashville songwriter/music biz insider Ralph Murphy.
Through his day job at guitarguitar retailer, he met well-known Scottish artist Tam White, just returned from writing in Nashville and needing some recording help. "We ended up doing a whole album together," says Reid. "He passed away in 2010. I had his last album, so I felt obliged to connect with his publisher in Nashville."
Reid heard about a cover project of Roy Orbison songs that his widow Barbara Orbison and son Alex were putting together and with his friend Louise Stanners, recorded "You're the One." "I produced it and pitched it and the next day got an email telling us that Mrs. Orbison loved it." Stanners and Reid performed the song at the album's launch in 2008 at Gibson Guitars UK headquarters, where he met Barbara and Alex.
Increasingly, Reid's songs were leaning to country, but there was no market for country songs in the UK. "I reached out to Ralph Murphey for advice. He said, 'Come to Nashville!' Nashville is a little intimidating from afar but Ralph reassured me. He was right. The first time I came to Nashville, it was like, 'Oh, this is where I belong! It felt like I had come home."
On Music Row, he touched base with Alex Orbison and Tam White's publisher and began to make friends. "Everyone was so nice and helpful. We were here for Tin Pan South and went to every show we could. We met Shannan Hatch from SESAC and she so genuinely wanted to help. We were convinced we needed to be in Nashville."
Their next stay was three months. "I went to writer nights and met as many writers as I could. I was learning from the best songwriters in the world."
A couple more boomerangs between the UK and BNA and a publishing deal convinced them in 2014 to relocate to Music City. Though he now hangs his hat in the capitol of country music, his work creating instrumental music for television and film takes him all over the musical spectrum. "One day I'll be writing a country song and the next day I'm doing something jazz, funk or hip hop for a television show. It changes day to day."
What hasn’t changed is his certainty that Nashville is where he belongs. "This has been my dream, that my life and my work would be so intertwined. It seemed like an impossible dream that came true. My wife and I have wanted a dog for like six years, but we put it off as we went back and forth between here and the UK. We finally got a dog this year. We know this is home and we have the dog to prove it!"