NBC’s Songland has been television’s big breakout show for the past two seasons, and one of the show’s big winners is Greg Scott, who actually trained and worked with the iconic Roberta Flack in New York City.
Since winning on Songland, where his song “Miracle” was chosen for pop recording artist Bebe Rexha and was named as the NBC theme song for the upcoming 2021 Olympic Games, Greg has gone on to have hit singles of his own, including his latest track “I Still Do”.
The Levity Ball sat down with Greg to learn more about how he got into music and what’s next for him during this crazy year of 2020…
When did you first discover that you could actually sing?
I was born into a musical family. As a toddler, I can remember crawling around in all of my Dads’ band rehearsals. They would take over the garage and couldn’t keep me out. It was a culture in our house every week… My dad was the lead singer and bandleader, with mom feeding and taking care of the band. I went through a musical school of hard knocks you could say. As soon as I could walk and talk to my parents, both threw me up on stage. Inspired by R&B/Soul, I would always cover my favorites from The Temptations to Pebo Bryson. My first memory of being on-stage was in my Dad’s band looking out at two thousand people at a concert in the park in my home town of Chico, CA. I belted out one of my favorite song at the time, Billy Oceans’ “Caribbean Queen”. Kind of a funny song choice looking back now. I must have been 7 at the time. What did I know about any of that? I went through my Michael Jackson phase as well. Me being the perfectionist I am, I would study his dancing in such detail I would take my parent’s VHS tape recorder to film just my feet and compare the two. Meanwhile, outside my window, my friends would be calling for me to come outside and play but I felt I was destined for the stage. Going as far as setting up all my Dads’ band equipment by myself at nine years old just to rehearse in the bright lights and PA speakers blasting.
What did your parents think about you pursuing a career in music?
Around that same time my parents decided it was time to see what I could do in a studio. They threw me in the booth and said: “GO!”. I started asking for levels as well as reverbs and delays. “I need a little bit more track, little less vocal and more verb please,” I said, and the look on my parent’s face was priceless. I kept on going, “Let me hear that take. Mmm, yeah, let me punch in there on that line.” My Mom looked at my Dad and said: “Oh no, what are we getting ourselves into?”. They were thinking about the music business and hard road ahead, but from that moment, it was “Greg Scott The Artist”!
Early in your career, the iconic Roberta Flack flew you here to NYC to perform for underprivileged youth at her music school. How did this all happen?
I moved to the Bay Area and I had manager at the time that knew Reberta’s team. He knew my love and how inspired I was from the late Donny Hathaway and jumped at the opportunity to get my demo to Roberta Flack. Her and Donny made a ton of records together before he passed. The moment Flack heard my voice she thought Donny and before I knew it I was on a plane flying out to NYC. She invited me to her house, the same building Yoko Ono calls home and sadly where John Lennon was shot. It all feels like a dream and I still talk about her 3 Shiba Inu’s I fell in love with.
Why didn’t you stay in NYC? And when you do come back, where are some of your favorite places to go?
I would’ve stayed but I have way too much family out here in Cali and having to raise two crazy monkey boys, my wife and I need as much help as we can get. But I LOVE New York and plan to come back as much as I can. I can’t get enough of the culture. I had never been to NY before Roberta flew me out. Not only did I perform for her School she took me around to some of the best live venues I’ve had the privilege of performing at. The Blue Note, Village Underground and the Sugar Bar to name a few. When I come back those will be my first stops!
Since those days you have had hit songs on the radio, on TV and even recently won NBC’s Songland. How was your Songland experience?
Songland is an experience I will never forget. It changed my life forever. I was treated like a professional the moment I walked in the door. I wasn’t just another hopeful contestant on a game show, I was a songwriter/songwriter with a message. Everyone from the producers, sound techs, camera operators to the celebrity panel, respect all around. I love the art of collaborating and Songland was the ultimate opportunity to work with the best our industry has to offer.
The song you won with was also just announced as the theme for the upcoming 2021 Olympics. You must be floored?!
It’s almost Impossible to describe the feeling that came over when I heard that. I freaked out so hard haha… The first thing I could think about was my wife and kids. It felt a lot like finding out my wife was pregnant for the first time. To be a part of Olympic history is a once and I life time experience. CRAZY AWESOME!
What is your advice to other songwriters and singers wanting to make it in the music industry?
You’re going to get a lot of no’s and know that this is one of the most competitive businesses in the world and it’s very subjective, which is not the best combination. When the timing is right for you I promise it’ll all click. There were so many times that I put the weight of my whole world on one opportunity and was crushed when it didn’t work out, but when I look back now the timing just wasn’t right. Be patient, trust the process and never give up.
How important is social media these days?
It’s the most important it’s been during its’ short history. For me especially with no live shows and no in person interactions, it gives me and my peers a strong platform to still connect. Although I much rather feel the energy of a crowd it still feels good to know I still have a voice.
On a personal front. You are married, have kids and I’m sure can’t wait to get back out there to perform after COVID-19. What’s the first thing you are going to do after the COVID-19 ‘lockdowns’ end?
First thing is get my kids back in school and then a tour to promote a new album in 2021. My kids NEED the interactions just as much as I need a live crowd. It’s been a struggle to say the least trying to balance being a Dad, a home school and I full time musician/composer but my wife and I are also so grateful we get the time we have with our kids right now. They’re 5 and 6 and still so pure and precious. We’re trying to keep as positive as we can for them.
Are we going to hear your kids featured on some future tracks maybe?
Funny you ask. I released a song earlier this year called “Hello Trouble” that has both of my boys on it. I posted a BTS video on my Instagram (@gregscottmusic) if you scroll down on my feed you’ll see the recording process with them and me coaching them up. I know I’m bias but they killed it haha!
And final question: What do you want to be remembered for when people look back at you and your music in the future?
My hope is to have made music that speaks to multiple generations and holds enough weight to invoke change in people of all backgrounds. Every time I sit down to write I strive to empower people to keep up hope, strength, perseverance and to love themselves no matter the path they choose. Since the day I was born I’ve watched my Dad perform for thousands of smiling faces and has since past the torch. Now it’s my gift to give and my hope bring people joy.