What's the worst word in the English language? It's not what you think. It's not four letters, but nine - "malignant". One month shy of her 36th birthday, my wife Carolina handed me the results of her biopsy, which indicated advanced breast cancer. I felt like the earth was swallowing me up. It was October 11, 2011.
Back in the early 1970s, when Melissa was a gigging singer/songwriter trying to make a name for herself in New York, a series of events ushered her along. She took a songwriting class taught by Paul Simon, joined Bette Midler's ensemble and met the woman who was to supply words for some of her most enduring songs - Carole Bayer Sager.
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.