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“It often takes the loss of a loved one to trigger a response to a call to arms. I lost my sister to cancer and I've pledged my commitment to do all I can ever since.”
—-Clive Davis on City of Hope’s “Songs of Hope” auction
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
An Exclusive HITS dialogue with Clive Davis by David Renzer

The City of Hope will hold its fourth annual “Songs of Hope” event on Nov. 1 at Esquire House, a private mansion in Beverly Hills. In addition to a silent auction featuring merchandise as diverse as sheet music from artists like Paul McCartney and Sting to handwritten lyrics by Mark Knopfler and Brian Wilson, as well as film scores by top composers Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, this year’s event will also have, for the first time, special awards handed out to Jermaine Dupri and Gavin DeGraw as well as the first annual “Clive Davis Legends in Songwriting” honor, which its namesake will personally present to Stevie Wonder.


With this fourth “Songs of Hope” event, the Music Publishing and Songwriting community will have raised over $500,000 dollars toward the City of Hope Hospital. Songs of Hope founder and event chair, Universal Music Publishing’s Chairman and CEO David Renzer interviews the legendary Clive Davis below and finds out the hard way how little we pay our writers.


Clive, thank you for agreeing to sponsor the Songs of Hope “Clive Davis Legends in Songwriting” award. As you know, all the money raised goes to the City of Hope Hospital, which helps to find cures for people with cancer and other serious illnesses. We all have friends and family with these illnesses.  Any special thoughts from you about this?
Regretfully, it often takes the loss of a loved one to trigger a response to a call to arms. I lost my sister to cancer and I've pledged my commitment to do all I can ever since.


Stevie Wonder will receive the “Clive Davis Legends in Songwriting” award as well as performing at this event. Are there
any Stevie Wonder songs you find particularly inspiring and hope he performs at the event?
The list is a long one.  His towering achievements as a writer are awesome.  Whatever he sings will be inspiring, but if I had to pick my personal top six, it would be  "I Just Called To Say I Love You,” "You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” "My Cherie Amour,” "Superstition,” "For Once In My Life" and "Part-Time Lover.”

Both your and Stevie Wonder’s careers have spanned decades. What special attributes do you think artists and executives must have to achieve longevity in our industry?
First, a love of music; Second, a work ethic that doesn’t distinguish day from night; Third, a strong team to shore up any weaknesses and, of course, good luck.


Both Jermaine Dupri and Gavin DeGraw, talent you have worked closely with over the years, are also receiving honors at Songs of Hope IV. Any special thoughts regarding each?

Jermaine is a seasoned, very talented and very likeable pro and Gavin is a young, very talented and very likeable pro.  It's really extra-special to share the evening with them. 


How have you managed to keep your ears so attuned to fresh musical talent and trends over the years?

By listening to new music every day and night. Everyone's ears can get stale or fixed to just one decade. As an executive, you've got to keep your ears fresh. What was strong in 1980 or 1990 doesn't work today and you've got to know why. For most artists and writers this holds true and it's essential for them to keep current and aware. For the very unique creative talent, it's not necessary. As John Lennon once told me—when I asked during his long hiatus whether he was keeping up—he said, "No.  Do you think Picasso checks out the galleries before starting a new painting?"

You’ve given so much to our industry over the years. Is there any one area that stands out to you as your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is two-fold: One, my four children are all evolved professionals with excellent values, family consciousness and good hearts, and two, when I started J Records back in 2000 as a brand-new company, all my key executives turned down major financial incentives to stay and decided to join me in what could have been a risky new venture. So, it's a great achievement for me to be able to share the success of J, RCA and Arista with them and it heartwarmingly fulfills the belief and special loyalty they had for me that I know only rarely happens in a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

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