Photo: LUZ GALLARDO
Claudia Brant On Launching Her 'Canción de Autor' Songwriter Initiative Benefitting MusiCares
For the past two decades, singer/songwriter Claudia Brant has maintained a punishing daily schedule, writing and recording literally thousands of songs in all styles and genres of Latin music. The ability to compose via Zoom with songwriting partners from all over the world allowed Brant's work to remain unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the current crisis got her thinking.
"I've always been a staunch supporter of songwriters' rights," she says from her recording studio in Los Angeles. "Even though our craft is the fundamental pillar of the music industry, we never seem to get the recognition we deserve. When people think of beloved songs that played in the background as they got married or celebrated a special birthday, they remember the recording artist, not the composer. I thought this could be the perfect moment to show the population at large who are the creators who sat down in a room with a guitar and wrote the songs that traveled around the globe."
Brant, who was born in Argentina and is also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, has written songs with Latin legends such as Luis Fonsi, Gianmarco and Sin Bandera's Noel Schajris. Always interested in networking with fellow composers, she has amassed a deep list of international contacts.
"I thought, what if I bring them all together?," she enthuses. "I know songwriters from every Latin country, from Colombia and the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, Chile and Uruguay. So I kicked things off by administering a WhatsApp group allowing fellow composers to share war stories, and even videos of themselves performing the songs that were made famous by other artists. In a way, the whole thing started out as a game."
When the WhatsApp group reached 65 passionate participants, Brand decided to cap its membership –at least for the time being, until the collective can migrate to a different platform. Current members include hit makers such as Argentina's Alejandro Lerner, Spain's Rosana, Brazil's Ronaldo Bastos – famous for his work with ‘70s icon Milton Nascimento – and Panama's Erika Ender, co-writer of the global smash "Despacito."
"It became a bit of a carnival," she laughs. "It's a challenge to administer a group with so many creative people – all of whom I happen to love dearly – who are insanely eloquent about sharing and collaborating. And as soon as the group started to take flight, we realized it could be used to achieve bigger goals."
Canción de Autor oficial founding members
Officially titled Canción de Autor, the collective created a public Facebook page in order to make its presence know. "We want to do things that relate to the many blessings that our job entail," explains Brant. "Promote advocacy, implement an education committee for kids who want to become composers. Scholarships for the aspiring artists who don't have access to opportunities. And then a marketing department for the mainstream to meet the creators behind the hit singles. You're talking about songwriters who have won multiple GRAMMY Awards – people who sold millions of records. Fortunately, all of us are widely connected in the industry."
At that moment, Brant thought of MusiCares.
"Now that live performances have been halted due to the pandemic, the industry is going through perilous times," she says. "I heard that MusiCares was looking for ways to motivate people in donating funds to assist musicians in need. I asked myself: do I have anything to offer? Well yes, I have a motivated group of amazing musicians who would be willing to grab a guitar and perform the same songs that became hits as recorded by Maluma, Shakira or Enrique Iglesias."
Brant envisioned a Canción de Autor Oficial series on Facebook live. An initial run of four episodes, each of them an hour long, including performances by three songwriters and hosted by an artist from the collective.
"If it works out and people press on the Donate button enough times, then we could develop subsequent seasons. As soon as I asked the group if anyone wanted to be involved, the response was unanimous. It grew in an organic fashion, because everyone behind it shares the same objectives. We hope to offer master classes in songwriting and organize additional events with producers and recording engineers. Eventually, when live music becomes viable again, a concert."
The first installment takes place today, June 16. Hosted by Aureo Baqueiro, it featured performances by José Luis Roma, Edén Muñoz and Mario Cáceres. Both hosts and performers will change on the remaining three episodes, airing on June 23, 30 and July 7.
Brant acts as the series' general director and will host a future episode herself, underscoring how invested she is in this new collective and its ability to make a difference.
"There's nothing that I find more stimulating than the idea of helping other people with their songwriting dreams. It is only fair that I offer something in return to this wonderful career that has given me so much throughout the years."
Learn more about how you can donate to or apply for assistance via the Recording Academy's and MusiCares' COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Learn more about the financial, medical and personal emergencies services and resources offered by the Recording Academy and MusiCares.