I was interviewed in Canvas Revel Magazine

website home page shot
me eyes open singing
me laughing with andrea

Harriet, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?

I learned to play piano at 4 when my father showed me certain chords and eventually I realized I could heal them and started playing by ear. He played marimba and we would play piano=marimba duets. He was also a dermatologist but he had put himself through school playing cello and marimba in dance bands. So I think my doing music full time fulfilled one of his dreams he had to let go of to become a doctor and support a family.

I played piano and wrote skits in college, winning awards for the skits and songs I created. But it didn’t occur to me I could make a living at that. So I got an English degree and a job as an advertising copwriter in Dallas where I was born. Shortly after I married, I moved to Los Angeles and continued writing ads for a living while I secretly wrote songs. One time I heard there was a songwriting contest but (horrors!) you had to sing the song yourself! I had never done that in public. So the night before the contest, I went to the Bla Bla Cafe in Studio City and asked if I could practice singing my song during the Al Jareau’s break. His guitar player was Julio Martinez and he said that I could. The upright piano was facing a wall but I managed to make my way through the performance.

I won my first money as a songwriter the next night. I won the contest and I kept the $10 bill for decades. By now it’s probably worth a dollar!

So that inspired me to keep writing songs and to find clubs I could sing at even if only for my dinner. Eventually, I met a publisher named Roger Gordon at an ASCAP meeting who asked where I was playing. I told him The Bitter End West, a gay club in West Hollywood. It was the only place I knew of where I could sing original songs in the early seventies. The patrons became my first fans. They were not there to see me at first but as they came back week after week, I got to know them and wrote the title song of my first album for them called “Hollywood Town.” I recorded that for 20th Century Records along with two other albums. I was signed and mentored by Russ Regan, a wonderful record label president who will always live comfortably in my heart.

In the seventies there was a wonderful eclectic radio station, KNX-FM that played album cuts as well as singles. I was fortunate that every cut on all three of my first albums got played on that radio station. The airplay led to covers that established me as a hit songwriter, even though my own versions didn’t chart. Helen Reddy sang “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” from that album and Manfred Mann covered the title cut, “Hollywood Town.” The Partridge Family recorded “That’s the Way It Is With You.” And Helen also sang “Mama” from the next album and on and on it went. Other people who have recorded by songs are Smokey Robinson, Syreeta, Gloria Loring, Roberta Flack, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Wilson, Jeannie Kindall, Vikki Carr, Lee Greenwood, Carl Anderson, Mereille Mathieu, Letta Mbulu, Lee Greenwood, Jodi Benson (the Little Mermaid), Charlene, E.L.K., Rebecca Parris , Vesica Pisces, LAX and Gary Lynn Floyd (who recorded an entire CD last year called “Present Schock.”)

In the eighties, I wrote mostly for film and TV. With co-writer Misha Segal, We wrote all the songs for “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking,” the animated “Secret Garden,” “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” Misha and I also wrote the love theme song for “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon.” It was called “First Time on a Ferris Wheel” and over 40 people have sung or recorded it.

Some of my other film/TV credits include “Jakers, the Adventures of Piggley Winks,” in over 30 countries, “Matters of the Heart” starring Jane Seymour, “Trophy Wife,” and many others. I wrote songs for (or wrote underscore) for the following Henry Jaglom films: “Going Shopping,” “Irene in Time,” “Hollywood Dreams” and “The M Word.” I was one of the co-stars of “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway,” which was on stage for a year before it became a film. Working with Henry Jaglom was inspiring, educational and more fun than I can describe.

My favorite kind of songwriting is solving a problem for the filmmaker with a song. It can’t replace the picture, of course, but it can support the story in a way nothing else can. I love the challenge of that!

In the nineties, I met the legendary Nik Venet. He liked my albums from the seventies and wondered why I wasn’t recording So he produced my next two albums, “American Romance,” and “Rosebud.” He had a huge influence on me.

In 2007, I received the Los Angeles Women In Music Award for Career Achievement and Industry Contribtion. I thought that was the biggest deal ever, since it was red carpet, black tie at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. And it was pretty grand, I must say. I’m very grateful to Los Angeles Women in Music for giving me that award that sits on my piano to this day.

But then, in 2020, the biggest deal so far: a filmmaker named Tom Solari attended a show I did of my original songs at the Coffee Gallery Backstage with my full band of Joe Lamanno on bass, Jennifer Richardson on cello, Kelly DeSarla on flute, Eden Livingood on violin/viola and Andrea Ross-Greene on backup vocals. I was playing keyboard and singing. At that concert, Tom Solari decided more people should experience what he felt, so the following week, he started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise the inital funds to make a documentary called “HOLLYWOOD TOWN – the Harriet Schock Story.”

In each case of the first 4 fundraisers, he made the goal. We are currently in the fifth phase with one week left. The last phase is to help with distribution. The film was finished last December and a screening was held at Celebrity Centre in Hollywood for 200 people. I think I’d have to say that was my proudest moment. The crowd was very receptive and Tom made a video of what some audience members felt about it. That short video is a thrill for me to watch.

When you’ve been in the entertainment business for 5 decades, it’s hard to shorten the story to a sound bite. I should also mention that one of my favorite things I do is teach/coach songwriting. When USC asked me to teach it in 1986, I said it couldn’t be taught. A year later they convinced me and I came up with a step-by=step method that gives a songwriter a technology of songwriting. Each step builds on the one before and the writer is able to create the exact song he or she wants to write in whatever genre. I’ve been teaching privately and for the Songwriters Guild and other organizations ever since. I love it.

One of the blessings of the Indiegogo campaign for “HOLLYWOOD TOWN – the Harriet Schock Story” is that there are perks to get people to contribute. There are many, many perks starting at $15 and going to $10.000 (executive producer). But one of the perks at $2500 is “Harriet writes a song for you.” Five people donated at that level and I was able to interview all five fascinating people and write their stories. Two of those people were the two executive producers; Harvey Brownstone and Jim Keaton. Their songs are on my new album, “Paintings.” The other 3 people I interviewed and wrote songs for are: Jim Perkins, Manny Larios and Bradley Bobbs.

I have worked very hard on the craft of songwriting, both as a songwriter, and as a songwriting coach. It’s so rewarding to be given the exceptional opportunities I’ve been given to write songs for films, for television, for other artists and for the lives of remarkable people. And when they are as moved as I’ve seen them be, that’s the best payment of all. Yes, I’ve made a living doing this, but the tears of a grateful human being either as an audience member or as the inspiration for the song…for me, that’s where the gold is.

band at my house
Paintings Album Cover final

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative in your experience?

Artists are alchemists. We can turn our baser emotions into gold. I’ve always felt really grateful to be a songwriter because if something is hurting me or gnawing at me, I get a song. In Iowa somewhere, a woman with the same burdens is just getting a migraine. So in that respect, it’s the absolute best therapy. But like ripples that go outward, it helps other people too.

band at premiere a.s.
full band shot from randy 2
gardenia band shot

Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative?

In a way, the world is divided into civilians and artists. Many people think that just because they’re not “in the arts,” they’re not artists. And yet, when you walk into their homes for a party. there is more aesthetic creativity than most people find in a painting or a song. But there are others who consider artists simply weird and legitimate only if gobs of money is involved in the sale of the art in question. These people will never understand the artist. I have artist friends who were born into a civilian family who never really felt at home until they started an acting class or played an instrument. Art is like oxygen to the artist. And those who don’t need it in that way simply look at the artist as a freak. Luckily I had artists in my family growing up although there were and are a few civilians as well. We have other things in common, just not art.

An example of the kind of oxygen an artist needs, that a civilian might not, is time alone, in silence. Many people love to have people around them all the time. It’s fun and more enjoyable for them. So if an artist lives with such a person, it’s sometimes difficult for both of them. The artist needs space in which to create even if it seems like nothing’s happening.

There’s a myth that creative types have to be a little crazy. This is the opposite of true, in my opinion. They may seem eccentric to the civilian, but it takes a sane mind to gather all the chaos, organize it and turn it into art. Sanity helps the artist and I’ve found the more me I am, the more in present time, the better I can create.

Contact Info:

Website: harrietschock.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/harrietschock/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harriet.schock
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harriet-schock
Twitter: twitter.com/harrietschock
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILnP2RvPvatAtEv7hGrPBA

Email: harrietschock@gmail.com cell 213 840-6732

Thank you for reading all this!

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