Architect of Motown era sound and Holland-Dozier-Holland legend, Lamont Dozier was recently awarded with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award for his part in penning classics like “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Baby Love.” In an exclusive sit down with Singersroom, Dozier discusses the surprising honor at this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony, the state of the music industry in comparison to the Motown era; his role as a world renowned songwriter in today’s music scene; and forthcoming projects including work with Sheryl Lee Ralph, Solange Knowles and Nikki Jean.

Singersroom: Tell us about you being inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. What does it feel like to be honored as a songwriter?

Lamont Dozier: It’s really overwhelming in one sense. We, myself and the Holland Brothers, received a Songwriters Hall of Fame Award (back in 1989). This is the pinnacle of all of the songwriting awards. To get an award like this, from a songwriter that is so renowned is more than words can say, more than anything I thought would happen to me.

Singersroom: Do you still write or would you say you’re retired?

Lamont Dozier: Oh yeah, I’m still writing constantly. I’ve got a play “The Four Wives Club” (starring Sheryl Lee Ralph). It’ll be out in July at the Old Globe Theatre (San Diego, CA). It’s about a movie that was out in ’96, it was quite big. The [ First Wives Club’s] story was about wives being divorced from their husbands and what they had to go through. We took that subject matter and made it into a musical. We’ve been working on it for 4 years, it’s really great, but in the meantime I’ve been working with a lot of artists. Solange, Nikki Jean; a new artist on Sony…I have a new song with George Benson coming out in August called “Living High on Definition.” But you know I never stop, I work seven days a week and a lot of people call me from various companies to work with their artist and it’s just a continual thing and I thank God for that.

Singersroom: Amen! I know that’s right. What is your favorite type of song to write?

Lamont Dozier: Well you know I write them all. I’ve worked in Nashville and done country songs with a lot of the country acts and songwriters. I’ve done jazz, worked with The Crusaders, and Jose Apple. I’ve done gospel and I’m working with some new artists from Detroit.

Thank God I’ve been privileged to have a name that covers a lot of ground and the successes I’ve had take me in a lot of different genres. But my favorite songs to write, there isn’t any…anything that’s good and has the potential to be picked up by the world.

Singersroom: Comparing music from back when you first started to now, what is the biggest difference

Lamont Dozier: A lot of things that we sort of used to take for granted back in the old days; back in the 70s and 80s, where we used to have the companies putting in a lot of time and effort and money in breaking artists…they don’t do that anymore. The artists more or less have to fend for themselves. But there are some of them that they do. Nowadays you’re pretty much on your own. However you have to do it; go to clubs; go to websites; give material away… you have to market yourself.

Singersroom: Do you watch the reality shows like “American Idol”, “Making the Band” and those type of shows?

Lamont Dozier: I was on “American Idol” about 3 years ago. They had a Motown day and I was the guest judge. That was big fun; a lot of fun for me. They played many of the songs that I have written, so it was a lot of fun for me.. Yeah, I love the reality shows when they make sense. If the people don’t like them I don’t like them. It’s a lot of great stuff on, new stuff. I like new stuff because it’s daring. If they can make sense with it then more power to them.

Singersroom: What is your favorite reality show? And how would you say it’s impacting the music industry?

Lamont Dozier: My favorite reality show is “(American) Idol” because it has so many ways of doing great things for a lot of people. And bringing music to the attention of the world, it can get you out, get you started. And it helps a lot of people who have a lot of dreams of becoming successful in the music business. It tells them that they can do it if they have a lot of passion for it.

Singersroom: What are your thoughts about the popularity of songwriters nowadays? More and more songwriters are coming from behind the scenes and creating their own albums.

Lamont Dozier: I think it’s great. I mean anything that you can do to promote yourself. Marketing is one of the hardest things to do, it’s very expensive and you have to dream of all type of new ideas and new approaches to get yourself noticed. Whatever you have to do to make it; we didn’t have to work so hard fifteen years or so ago or more. Now it’s a must, you have to come with the attitude that I’m going to make it regardless; do whatever I have to do to be seen (and) to be heard to be out there. So I cheer whoever is doing it, dreaming up ideas to get themselves established, it’s fine with me. I love it!

Singersroom: What is in your CD/MP3 player right now?

Lamont Dozier: (Laughs) In my car there would be a little Tony Bennet, a little Ne-Yo, a new girl that I like, her name is Tynisha Kelly, she’s under Warner Bros…Yeah that’s what you find a little old, some new and some hopefuls.

Singersroom: That actually brings me to my next question. For new up and coming writers, what advice would you give them? What do you tell your students at USC?

Lamont Dozier: I tell them if they’re in this for monetary reasons, making money and getting fame and fortune, or getting noticed by the girls or vice versa I say you’re in it for the wrong reason. You have to have the passion; you have to have the drive; you have to really want to do this even if you didn’t get paid for it; and a lot of people don’t. It’s a love that you have inside; a lot of heart that you have to have. There is no guarantees. It’s a business of rejection and you got to be thick skinned. You got to be able to keep pushing regardless. That passion, if it’s genuine, will keep you going out knocking on doors and keep you doing things an average person would give up on. But if you’re the type of person that’s steadfast and just relentless in their pursuit you’ll make it. And that’s what I tell my students.
—— By: Interview By Lauren Walker