The Crossover: Songwriters Who Crossed Over Into Superstardom

Hearing the name Ester Dean, you probably think to yourself “hmm, that sounds familiar, but not really.”  That actually makes sense, since she’s famous, but not really.  The name recognition comes from the fact that she is one of the leading songwriters in the industry, having penned songs for the likes of Beyoncé (“Countdown”), Rihanna (“Rude Boy”, “You Da One”), Usher (“Hot Tottie”), Kelly Clarkson (“Mr. Know It All”), Katy Perry (“Firework”), and several others.  She also released her own single entitled “Drop It Low” featuring Chris Brown back in 2009.  While she was signed as a songwriter under Polow Da Don, Ester just signed with and is the newest member of Roc Nation.  This deal will let us see what she’s made of not only as a hit maker for others, but for herself.

There are several artists who got their start as songwriters and made the transition into superstardom.  Faith Evans wrote for a teenaged Usher and an unpolished Mary J. Blige before getting her shot at a solo career.  Ne-Yo stayed under the radar for quite a while penning songs for Marques Houston, Musiq, and Mario, who’s smash single “Let Me Love You” catapulted Ne-Yo’s career, getting him a meeting and ultimately a deal with Def Jam.   Keri Hilson is another success story who wrote songs for Britney Spears, Omarion, Ciara and others far before her debut album In a Perfect World…  came to fruition.

It takes time for anyone who considers themselves a true songwriter to make that transition.  Prolific writers like Sean Garrett and Rico Love, while having attempted to produce solo work, are still more known for their penmanship with artists like Chris Brown and Beyoncé, and even doing hooks for rappers like Ludacris and Fat Joe.    Still, the big time as solo artists hasn’t quite happened yet.  There’s no doubt that it will happen, as both are incredibly talented, and there are enough examples out there to prove that the crossover is not only possible, but perhaps favorable.  After all, who wouldn’t want those artist and songwriter royalty checks?

–Jessica Bennett


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