7 Singers Who Were Not Hit Songwriters

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The job of a frontperson is hard.

You have to dazzle an audience, perform a song, sing it like you mean it, and for many, you have to play guitar, write music and lyrics and lead a band.

But for some standout singers and frontpeople, they were never songwriters. They never had the burden of penning the tunes that they performed and made famous.

But who are these lucky artists? Let’s dive in here below and find out.

1. Dionne Warwick

Everybody’s favorite musical Auntie, Warwick does not write the songs she sings—in fact, she told American Songwriter as much in a recent interview. Instead, Warwick is a glamorous performer, one who shines on stage and, more recently, on Twitter, where she does write her Tweets! Warwick is a national treasure, even if she didn’t pen tracks like “Say a Little Prayer.”

2. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley didn’t write his hit songs. Yet, he owned them and performed them to such a high degree that many thought he did. But Presley was the benefactor of many Black artists and their blues tunes that he translated into rock and roll hits. The King, in other words, had a lot of help from the people.

3. Frank Sinatra

Back in the day, not writing your own songs wasn’t a black mark against you. Writers were writers and performers were performers. Perhaps no one signifies that as much as Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, who sang many songs that we were written for him with such aplomb and panache that he soared.

4. Rihanna

The modern day icon has very few writing credits on her tracks, but that’s okay. She’s the type of person who is more entertainer than lyric writer. And when you’re that famous and that sought after you don’t have to spend your time with your rhyming dictionary.

5. Celine Dion

Celine Dion is known for having one of the biggest voices in modern music. Just as her heart will go on, her voice seemingly does as well, projecting to the back of the room and even sometimes well out of the venue altogether. But Dion didn’t write many, if any, of her more famous songs. Instead, she’s the amplifier of those tunes.

6. Diana Ross

Diana Ross became a household name when she fronted The Supremes and later when she left the Motown group to go out as a solo artist. But the skilled singer never wrote the songs that made her famous. Instead, she leaned on those talented folks who wrote songs that fit her style perfectly.

7. Whitney Houston

Another big-voiced star, Whitney Houston didn’t have to labor over lyrics. Instead, she found the songs that fit her skill set and she honored them and made them her own. Even Dolly Parton, who wrote “I Will Always Love You” said that song now belongs to Houston. Who can argue with that?

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