I was born into a musical family in North Carolina. Music ushered me into life quite literally because my dad was playing the Irish fiddle in the delivery room when I was born. I began singing in our family band The Tune Mammals at the age of 2. When my dad gave me my first guitar lesson at the age of 12, I immediately started making up my own songs. I never took to the piano, but when I picked up the guitar, I found a vehicle to express my inner voice as a songwriter.
He is among the most down-to-earth, humble people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Kind and warm, Tommy, or simply "T" is a compassionate and sensitive man, which I suppose is at least partially responsible for his success in the entertainment industry. But there was a time when success seemed out of reach.
John discovered that his first album had an incipient following in 2002 when a journalist, Mark Luffman, emailed him from Australia after finding the LP in a car-boot sale. "He raved about it. No one had ever said such nice things," says John. "It was considered a complete failure by my record company and management - they saw it as an experience best forgotten".
Gareth Dunlop is a songwriter of uncanny ability. Listening to his records you wouldn't be able to tell that he's still only in his twenties. He has a gravelly voice and songs that shine with a confidence disguising his youth. In 2011 Gareth won the prestigious Young Songwriter of the Year award at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival and Nashville beckoned.
Some incredible opportunities have opened up for me since I wrote One Direction's number one song Little Things with Ed Sheeran... But it's also highlighted to me the importance of articulating certain things that I need to say to the world, right now, and in an individual way that's musically faithful to myself.
On first listen it's easy to compare Douglas Dare's melodic piano stylings to the likes of Blake or even the less sophisticated Tom Odell. But a closer inspection reveals the influence of artists as diverse as Nick Cave, Jon Hopkins (in the tasteful beats that accompany his playing) or even the late Elliot Smith.
I've been writing for a while now and one thing I've learnt is to always finish a song. Even if it turns out to not be one of your best, it's important to get it finished and out of the way so you can move on to the next. Here's some other tips that I hope will help any aspiring songwriters out there.
Right through his life, Nilsson went on pouring his life and experiences into his lyrics, and there are few artists whose life can be traced, song by song, album by album, as graphically as his. His split from his second wife, his experiences of drugs and alcohol, and his final, fulfilled family life with his third wife Una...