Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro's Biography

Tom Shapiro has had a songwriting career unparalleled in the history of Music Row. To date he is the only songwriter to be named BMI's Country Songwriter of the Year three times in a five year period ('93, '96, '97). In addition, he was named Music Row Magazine's top country songwriter in 1995 and won the CMA Triple Play award in 1995 and 1997. Tom has mastered the art of the country song, but like many other successful country songwriters, his musical influences come from many places.

Born and raised in Kansas City, by the time he was ten years old he was into movie music and was playing the piano. "I wrote my first song," he says, "for a girlfriend." That was a long time ago. He remembers neither the song nor the girlfriend. After his senior year in high school Tom spent a summer at a French university, and in his dorm met an Oklahoman who played his guitar a lot when he wasn't studying French. When his newfound friend explained that he was writing songs, Tom began to write with him. "That was my real entry into the world of songwriting," he says.

Tom spent a year at Whittier College in California then moved to Boston University, where he majored in music and minored in English, a sure sign that he had songwriting in mind as a future vocation. Tom also spent a brief time teaching at the Berkley School of Music. In 1973 he helped found a school of contemporary music but he wanted to write, not teach, so a year later he sold his share of the school and moved to L.A. There he made do with a variety of jobs, notably one at a dental lab in the San Fernando Valley where he ran teeth to dentists in the L.A. area. His first major publishing deal, with a company called Heath-Levy Music, yielded several pop cuts, including "You Come First At Last" by L.T.D. and major cuts by Sister Sledge and Smokey Robinson. Country didn't cross his mind until he met Michael Garvin, who introduced him to the world of country songwriting. "We wrote about twenty songs," Tom recalls, "mostly as an exercise, but we did get five of them recorded, including one on George Strait's first album."

But the songwriting grind was wearing Tom down so he quit for a while and took a job working in a large East L.A. music store. During his hiatus George Benson cut a song of his called "Never Give Up On A Good Thing," which became an international hit. "Monday I got word that the song had been cut over the weekend," he says. "Tuesday I quit my job. Wednesday I packed my clothes, and Thursday I headed for Nashville because I was tired of L.A. and I knew I could get an advance on the Benson cut to keep me going in Nashville for a while."

In Nashville he signed with Tree International and before long was having hits with artists like Crystal Gayle, Eddie Raven, Lee Greenwood and Marie Osmond. Over the next few years with Tree, Terrace Music, and then Great Cumberland Music Group, he had a flood of number 1 hits, including "Your Heart's Not In It," recorded by Janie Fricke, Tanya Tucker's "Highway Robbery," and Lorrie Morgan's "Watch Me." Over the last decade he has gotten involved in producing. He co-produced Billy Dean's string of smashes and also co-wrote many of them, including "Only the Wind," "You Don't Count the Cost," and the #1, "If There Hadn't Been You." Other Shapiro-written hits include Kathy Mattea's "Walking Away a Winner," Neil McCoy's #1 "Wink," Randy Travis's "This Is Me," the Trisha Yearwood #1 "Thinkin' About You," the Colin Ray smash, "Somebody Else's Moon," the Terri Clark #1 "Better Things To Do," and the Tim McGraw #1 "She Never Lets it Go To Her Heart." In 1996, Tom wrote two songs with legendary performer Neil Diamond for his platinum country album, "Tennessee Moon."

In 1998 Tom returned to SONY/ATV Tree and had the honor of placing "I Will Be There For You" on the award wining Prince of Egypt soundtrack that was also a single by newcomer Jessica Andrews. In 1999, he enjoyed three consecutive #1's with Clay Walker's "You're Beginning to Get to Me," Terri Clark's "You're Easy on the Eyes," and Sara Evan's "No Place That Far." Tom began the millennium with another major accomplishment when NSAI named him the first ever "Songwriter of the Decade." Recently, Tom has placed songs with Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Tracy Byrd, Clay Davidson, George Strait, Joe Diffie and recently enjoyed a 6-week #1 with Brooks & Dunn's, "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You."

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