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BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters


Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters

Some West End and Broadway stars aren't content with being a triple threat of singer, dancer and actor, and are adding a fourth string to their bow: songwriting. Check out our pick of these incredible songbirds, who not only blow audiences away singing other people's songs on stage, but also with their own music.

1. Blake Patrick Anderson

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Waiting For You" / "My Heart" / "Beautiful Birds"

Until the Covid crisis sadly cut the run short, Blake Patrick Anderson was playing Michael in the smash-hit Be More Chill at The Other Palace and getting rave reviews for it.

More recently, Anderson has been using his songwriting talents to raise donations for a little boy named Stanley, who is currently battling leukaemia, by writing a song entitled "Waiting For You". All profits from this song will go to Stanley, so it's worth streaming for sure!

As well as his own music, Anderson's YouTube channel also has wonderful covers of iconic songs, including "Ashes" by Celine Dion and "She Used To Be Mine" - which you'll want to listen to again and again.

2. Beverley Knight

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Come As You Are" / "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" / "Beautiful Night"

A West End favourite, Beverley Knight recently performed a pilot show at the London Palladium, helping to test social distancing procedures for the first time since the pandemic made the lights go out in the West End in February.

But way before she appeared in productions like Memphis and The Bodyguard, Knight was making her own music.

She has been a big part of the music industry since 1995, with nine studio albums and a string of awards - including three MOBOs and two Urban Music Awards, one of which is a Lifetime Achievement Award. She's performed her songs at incredible events including Prince concerts and the 2012 Paralympic ceremony. Knight was even appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 in recognition of her contribution to British music.

3. David Hunter/Caroline Kay

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks (David Hunter): "The Farm Song" / "A Thousand Red Balloons" / "Waterfall"

Top Tracks (Caroline Kay): "On My Way" / "Always You" / "Find The Light"

Two songwriters joined forces during lockdown, as David Hunter and Caroline Kay created their own short musical, The Space Between Us. An emotional story of a couple discussing their future and whether they should be together, you can read our four-star review here.

But this isn't Hunter's first foray into songwriting; in fact, he was creating his own songs way before stepping onto the West End stage. Hunter used to be in the band Reemer, who supported McFly on an arena tour. More recently, he's released an EP entitled "Silver Linings", performed several sold-out gigs (extracts of which you can watch on his YouTube channel) and even written a song with his son Rufus.

Kay is also no stranger to songwriting, having released her debut EP in 2017. The EP was just as sensational as Kay's voice, and it went straight into number one in the Irish iTunes Album Charts and number 2 in the UK Singer/Songwriter iTunes Album Charts. Since then, she's released a second EP, written an original musical entitled Daisy, and hosted several solo gigs.

4. Rob Houchen

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters

Top Tracks: "Believe" / "Alive" / "Dance Again"

Rob Houchen has performed in a range of West End shows, from standing on the Les Miserables barricades to handling the heat in The Light at the Piazza and turning into a superhero in Eugenius, as well as being one of the organisers of the West End Does... themed concerts.

But head over to his Soundcloud or Spotify, and you'll find he's an incredibly accomplished songwriter too. Many of his songs are power ballads that you can imagine artists like Adele or Sam Smith covering, and will break your heart on the first listen. Also, if you haven't streamed his cover of "Fire on Fire" yet, you're missing out on one of the best versions of this track ever.

5. Eleanor Kane

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Everybody Else" / "Take My Soul" / "All But Numb"

Eleanor Kane made her West End debut in Fun Home at the Young Vic back in 2018, and has been a talent to watch ever since. Ironically, one of Kane's recent roles was playing singer/songwriter Marie in the Paul Taylor-Mills production of High Fidelity at the Turbine Theatre.

As a solo singer, she recently released her first ever EP, "The St Vincent Street Sessions", on all streaming platforms, and is giving away 60% of the download revenue to the charity Love Music Hate Racism Glasgow. With the album hitting number 20 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts upon release, we know this is only just the start of an incredible songwriter career for Kane.

6. Ben Platt

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters

Top Tracks: "Better" / "In Case You Don't Live Forever" / "Share Your Address"

No musical theatre songwriter list would be complete without a mention of the unstoppable force that is Ben Platt.

Prior to his critically acclaimed performance in Dear Evan Hansen, Platt had also appeared in The Book Of Mormon, as well as in the Pitch Perfect movie franchise. Basically, he was already a pretty big deal.

Last year, he released Sing To Me Instead. Full of songs about heartbreak, love, friendship and family, his mature lyrics make you forget that Platt is only 26 years old. The song "In Case You Don't Live Forever", which is about how much he loves his father, is stunning poetry, while "Better" - a song written after a break-up to make himself feel better - is pretty much everything you've ever wanted to say to an ex.

If you haven't heard any of his songs, and never seen him on stage, we'd highly recommend watching his Netflix special, especially as it provides a unique insight into the stories behind each of his songs.

7. Sara Bareilles

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Love Song" / "I Choose You" / "She Used To Be Mine"

Just like Platt, no songwriting list would be complete without Sara Bareilles, whose artist talent was showcased on the stage when she wrote the music and lyrics for the tasty musical Waitress, earning her both Tony and Grammy nominations.

Describing her music as "piano-based pop soul", Bareilles is so much more than educating others on what baking can do. She's sold over nine million singles and one million copies of her album, wracked up an impressive eight Grammy nominations, and in 2012 was placed 80th in the VH1 Top 100 Greatest Women in Music list.

8. Reeve Carney

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters

Top Tracks: "Think Of You" / "Up Above The Weather" / "There She Goes"

When he's not taking trips to Hadestown, Reeve Carney is a talented singer-songwriter, and has been since first picking up a guitar at just 12.

By the age of 22, he was signed to a record label, and his band supported both The Veronicas and Arcade Fire on tour. If that wasn't enough, Carney also started writing songs on film soundtracks, including The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.

Four years ago, Carney released his first solo album, "Youth Is Wasted", which he wrote and produced himself, and went on tour. Three of these songs became nominated across six categories at the Annual Independent Music Awards.

9. Anthony Rapp

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Visits To You" / "Human Tornado" / "Living Alive"

Well known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in RENT, Anthony Rapp has been hugely successful in a range of Broadway, movie and TV work, with his latest role seeing him joining the crew of Star Trek.

But as well as originating roles on stage and screen, Rapp has also released two solo albums. They're a mix of tear-jerking ballads that could give "Seasons of Love" a run for its money, and upbeat numbers that you won't be able to resist dancing to.

But his albums also share personal stories - from losing his mother to cancer and his regular visits to her as she became more unwell, to his journey to Broadway and stage success. Rapp even went on to create a one-man show using these songs and his memoir that he released in 2007.

10. Alexandra Burke

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "All The Things You Are" / "Broken Heels" / "The Truth Is"

One of the many stage stars who have been affected by Covid outbreak, Alexandra Burke was due to appear in a tour of new show My Best Friend's Wedding The Musical, which has now been postponed.

Prior to this, Burke was making a name for herself on the West End stage with lead roles in The Bodyguard Musical, Chess and Sister Act The Musical.

Her vocal range is staggering, so it's no surprise that she's released three studio albums, several EPs, and was even the executive producer on her second album. She's collaborated with a range of famous songwriters, including Bruno Mars and Ne-Yo.

11. Matt Henry

BWW Feature: Check Out These 11 Sensational Stagey Songwriters Top Tracks: "Can't Make It Love" / "Daddy" / "Don't Waste Your Time"

Winning an Olivier Award for originating the role of Lola in Kinky Boots, Matt Henry has been wowing West End audiences ever since he made his debut in Disney's The Lion King when he understudied the role of Simba while he was still at drama school.

In 2013, Henry took part in The Voice, where he was mentored by both and Jessie J, reaching the finals and racking up over 12 million YouTube views.

Just two years later, he released his debut album and headed off on tour, supporting Cyndi Lauper - who, in a strange twist of coincidences, wrote the music and lyrics to Kinky Boots! A soulful songwriter, every song on his album has a clear emotional connection to Henry, and you can feel every note he sings in your own heart.

Who are your favourite musical theatre songwriters? Let us know @BroadwayWorldUK!

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