Laura Veltz is still processing her historic fourth Grammy nomination. The Nashville-based songwriter is among the inaugural class of nominees in the new Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical category alongside Amy Allen, Nija Charles, Tobias Jesso Jr., and The-Dream.
“I’m so flattered that someone would care to put me in there,” Veltz tells American Songwriter. “It’s an incredible year to be in that group because those people are monsters at their game.”
Veltz is no stranger to monster hits herself. In the 14 years since she moved to Nashville, Veltz has penned multiple No. 1 songs, including Maren Morris’ “I Could Use a Love Song,” Dan + Shay’s “Speechless” and Lady A’s “What If I Never Get Over You.” Morris’ 2021 Grammy-nominated Best Country Song “The Bones,” written with Veltz and Jimmy Robbins, was named 2021 BMI Pop Song of the Year. Its success propelled Veltz to become the first female to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Songwriters chart, where she stayed for five consecutive weeks.
More recently, Veltz received a 2022 BMI Country Award for penning one of the most performed songs of the year with Callista Clark’s top 20 hit “It’s ’Cause I Am.” She also stepped into the producer chair for the first time and produced Madeline Edwards’ debut album, Crashlanded. Earlier this year, Veltz collaborated with Demi Lovato and co-wrote 13 of the 16 tracks on the pop star’s eighth studio album. HOLY FVCK. Two of those songs – “29” and “Feed” – were highlighted in Veltz’s Grammy nomination, as were Morris’ “Background Music” and “Humble Quest,” and Ingrid Andress’ “Pain.”
Fittingly, Veltz learned of her Grammy nomination while in a writing session. She’s sobered by the recognition and says the new awards category is a win for songwriters everywhere.
“I’m mostly just happy for my community,” she says. “We are so accustomed to finding ourselves tucked in the background, and most of us are totally at peace with that, myself included. … I like being behind the scenes, but I do feel that—especially given some of the fiscal challenges that we have—this feels like another step towards being valued.
“Frankly, we’re going to go extinct if we don’t figure out how to pay people for streaming,” she stresses. “The biggest value that it holds is the hope that this leads to a more fair pay structure so that songwriters and storytellers aren’t considered an auxiliary piece of songwriting.”
Veltz says it will take lawmakers in Washington D.C. to help songwriters get paid fairly. She views songwriters as historians and says songwriters are often more accurate than history books in terms of telling people’s stories.
“The most heartbreaking part about this is that we’re taking away an ancient art form of explaining how we all feel to each other,” she stresses. “I really fear for the future of the platform, and the future of the medium itself. … If we don’t protect the people who are so driven to tell these stories, I wonder what music will even be? That concerns me.”
Veltz continues to play a major part in uplifting her collaborators in the writing room and remains a champion for women in country music and beyond. She’s seen success with Morris and Lovato and praises newcomer Edwards as “the future of country music.” Previously an artist herself as the lead singer of her family band, Veltz says being both an artist and songwriter has helped her in the role of producer.
“My ability to jump in and use my instincts that I had been crafting for years in Nashville, and then 10 years prior with my band, all those things took hold in the room,” she says.
One of Veltz’s most fulfilling musical experiences in the past year was working with Lovato, specifically writing and recording “Feed.” The song’s idea comes from Native American folklore and the story of the two wolves. Lovato read the poem to her co-writers and Veltz says the lyrics “came pouring out.”
“The wolf inside you that you feed is the one who wins,” Veltz explains of the poem. “If you feed happiness and joy and gratitude, it wins. If you feed sadness and depression and pessimism, it wins.”
Veltz says the song is universal and one that can apply at any point in a person’s life, no matter the stage or situation.
“I was present for the whole production experience and every time I listen to it, I just absolutely weep,” she says of “Feed.” “Maybe that’s just for me, maybe it’ll connect in a different way in the future. That song is one of my absolute favorite songs I’ve ever written.”
Veltz also gets emotional when recounting the evolution and success of “The Bones.” She calls the crossover hit a “legacy song” and the type of song that a songwriter dreams of writing. Coincidentally, it’s also a lyric about wolves that means more to Veltz now than when she initially wrote the song with Morris and Robbins nearly three years ago.
“The wolves came and went, but we’re still standing really gets me,” Veltz says tearfully. “I love that line. That song is about resilience and being able to withstand something challenging. We’ve done that as a country, we’ve done that as a family, we’ve done that as a society and women do that every day. Disenfranchised communities do that every day. It’s just a beautiful reminder that you can get through some shit. Every time I hear that song, I hear it in a different texture because it helps me feel brave.”
Veltz’s bravery has taken her into producing as well as writing music for films. Her song “Dream Girl,” co-written and performed by Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, was featured in the Amazon/Sony Pictures 2021 adaptation of Cinderella, and shortlisted for Best Original Song at the 2022 Oscars. She also has a podcast in the works. All the while, she continues to write songs and hopes to make things better for the future generation of songwriters.
“I just feel so lucky that I get to do exactly what I want to do,” she says. “I’m really grateful. If this was it, I’d be perfectly satisfied. I still have more to say so I’m excited about whatever I write coming up next.”
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