Meet Songmasters, the group behind the ‘Listen To Me’ series

By Mike Greenblatt

When Peter Asher was first contacted with the idea of a Buddy Holly tribute, it didn’t take him long to decide to sign on.

“I was 14 in 1958 when Buddy Holly toured England and I didn’t go,” Asher said from his Capitol Records office. “I wish I had.”

Asher’s love of Holly aside, there was no question that he was the right choice to helm “Listen to Me: Buddy Holly,” said Jennifer Cohen, co-founder of  Songmasters, the company behind the project.

“To us, Peter is Buddy’s best curator, possessing a genuine love of Holly’s music, an extensive and exceptional record of performing and producing some of the most notable versions of Holly’s songs, and a lifetime career of producing award-winning albums and records,” said “He was not only the obvious choice for a Holly tribute, he was the only choice worth considering. Through both this album and this concert, he has once again shown why he deserves the accolades he has received.”

The Buddy Holly project is the first in Songmasters’ planned Listen to Me Series, which pays tribute to groundbreaking artists who continue to inspire fans and musicians today.

“So much of rock starts with Buddy Holly: the configuration of the guitar-based band, the contemporary singer-songwriter-performer, even the independent producer of his own creative work,” Cohen said. “And so much of Buddy Holly’s music and legacy is captured in the remarkable career of Peter Asher.”

Cohen co-founded Songmasters  in 1994, when she was head of product development for Warner Music International. She wanted to use her lifetime experience in music and entertainment to bring its power to the service of important charitable and educational efforts. To that end, she’s worked on such prestigious projects as the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, AmFAR (for AIDS research) and “Share Our Strength” (ending childhood hunger) benefits.

Hooking up corporate clients to benefit charities using music and events, acting as global music distributors with the 2006 creation of The Music Coalition, Cohen and senior partner Regan McCarthy not only developed better deals for artists, but have received two Ford Foundation grants for their efforts.

“We are pleased with the wide variety of work that we have done, and plan to do,” said Cohen. “Technology has made it easier to create and produce music, but harder to develop a music career. Young talent today has more competition, more pressure to fit a mold, fewer resources, and almost no guidance in how to develop a successful life in music. We thought we might be able to help in our own small way to give young artists a real shot.”

The “Listen To Me” project was created out of that impulse.

“Simply put,” she continues, “‘Listen to Me’ is a series that features today’s great performers honoring their musical roots: the true, great, original performers who changed music and culture to raise substantial support for the next generation of outstanding music makers and innovators. Benefitting music industry charities include the Grammy Foundation, Artists House Music, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which awards the Holly Prize.
For more information about Songmasters and the Listen To Me project, visit www.songmasters.com.

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