On Monday night, one of the most popular and accomplished recording artists on the planet graced the stage of NBC’s Songland: Bebe Rexha. With help from the show’s celebrity ‘producers’ — Shane McAnally, Ryan Tedder and Ester Dean — Rexha made the unprecedented decision to combine two different contestants’ songs into one song, which she then chose as the winning number. “Miracle” is a song that was primarily written by Anna Graceman and Greg Scott.
“It definitely feels surreal,” Graceman told American Songwriter. Born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, Graceman has been pursuing professional songwriting since she was 7 years old. “It’s something I’ve always done,” she reflected. The song she initially pitched to Rexha was a soulful tune entitled “Gold,” which she specifically wrote for the purpose of submitting something to Songland — its verses ultimately became the verses for “Miracle.”
Meanwhile, on another side of the country in Chico, CA, Greg Scott spent his youth singing and jamming with his father’s band, which is how he “caught the songwriting bug.” Later, after receiving encouragement from his then-fiance-now-wife, Scott decided to quit his day job and move to Los Angeles to try to make it as a full-time writer. Since then, he’s stayed busy working on sync licensing and writing killer hooks… one such hook belonging to his submission to Songland: the original version of “Miracle.”
“I had been writing for sync, television and film in Los Angeles and was loving it,” Scott said. “I was taking life experiences and relating them to different storylines in television and commercials. In that world I met a guy named Mark Rudin — we got into a studio and wrote and recorded ‘Miracle’ in about three hours. I quit teaching music and said ‘I’m going to make a living off solely performing and writing music.’ Rudin related to that and that’s basically what ‘Miracle’ is. It’s a story about believing in yourself, in believing that if you work hard and set your mind to something, then it’s going to happen.”
Scott pitched the original version of “Miracle” to a very excited panel of producers and Bebe Rexha, who loved the song’s undeniably catchy hook. Yet, they felt that the song felt unfinished, like it was lacking something… and Scott agreed.
“I knew that there was something missing,” he said. “That’s why I love collaborating: you give all that you’ve got, knowing that somebody else might have something new which could spark the song into being what it needs to be. Anna’s verses set up the chorus in a really magical way where I feel like the song couldn’t happen without it.”
Graceman also agreed, adding that “what I love about Songland is that the focus is on the songwriters, the songs and songwriting. Being in the room with Bebe, Shane, Ester and Ryan is so overwhelming and amazing. It really is a collaborative effort, we’re all throwing around ideas. People who aren’t necessarily involved in or informed about the songwriting process ask ‘well, doesn’t it make you upset that they tear up your song so it’s totally different than what you had in the first place?’ Of course, having someone say ‘this is not what I want, you need to totally change it’ is a little bit hard to go through at first, but there’s a shift that happens. At this point, having people I respect say ‘well, this will make the song better’ is the biggest honor. I don’t even look at it as them changing my song or tearing it apart, they’re making it better and helping it evolve. The final product of ‘Miracle’ is an amazing balance of both songs, which is cool to hear. The songs fit perfectly together.”
Yet, the combination of the two songs wasn’t the only unique twist to Monday night’s episode. There was an extra prize on the line: not only would the winning song be recorded by Bebe Rexha, but it would also be used by NBC to promote the Tokyo Olympics. While this episode was taped before the pandemic forced the 2020 games to be postponed, ‘Miracle’ will still be used in the promotion of the rescheduled 2021 games. The added challenge of writing a song for such a mammoth event such as the Olympics was felt by both Graceman and Scott. “Writing for Bebe seems like it would be a totally different thing than writing for the Olympics,” Graceman said. “So, there was a balance trying to figure out what would work for both.”
Ultimately, Scott’s hook on the original ‘Miracle’ became the central theme for the song. An event like the Olympics demands a very certain kind of uplifting and energy, which is something Scott was unknowingly cognisant of.
“Songland was interviewing me leading up to the show and they asked ‘what do you think this song would be best suited for?’” Scott said. “At that point, I had no idea what the episode was about, but without missing a beat I said ‘the Olympics.’ It was really, really weird and out of the blue, but I just had this feeling coming over me. Then, in a pre-production meeting they told us that our artist was going to be Bebe Rexha and that the song would be used to promote the 2020 Olympics. It was crazy how that all came together.”
Now both Graceman and Scott — who are both artists in their own rights — are looking towards the future. Graceman recently released a full-length record entitled The Way the Night Behaves which showcases her unique and soulful pop writing style. Scott, meanwhile, is working on new music with the female vocalist who helped him perform ‘Miracle’ on Monday night’s episode, which is set to drop sometime within the month. Both talented artists and writers, it’ll be fascinating to see where Graceman and Scott go now that they each have an Olympic-sized Bebe Rexha tune under their belts.