Jeff Scott
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Jeff Scott

Royal Oak, Michigan, United States | SELF

Royal Oak, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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What becomes of a dream deferred? Jeff Scott can tell you, it never dies. Scott, a Royal Oak native whose smoky baritone and poster-boy looks propelled him to local radio airplay and victory in a national American Idol-type talent contest in the 1980s with his band the Big Picture, left the music business out of frustration and entered the ad game, rising from copywriter to president and managing partner of his agency over a 21-year career. But the music mojo never left him, so he's giving it a second shot in the 21st century with a new solo CD, Begin Again, a commitment to start from the bottom as a Nashville songwriter, and a showcase engagement at Bobby Higgins' Metro Room in the Oxford Inn, 1214 S. Main St., Royal Oak.; 248-543 5619. For more info or to hear cuts from Begin Again, visit jeffscottmusic.com. (Megan O'Neil) - The Metro Times


Ad man Jeff Scott quit the music business in the 90s for career in advertising. Now, he's back on stage with a new CD.

Many people would kill for the kind of start Jeff Scott had when he began his music career more than three decades ago.

Scott, 50, formed his first band at 12 years old and by 15 was leading a nine-piece group with a full horn section. He played clubs throughout the state with a folk-pop duo between his studies at the University of Michigan.

Then, as he began his career in advertising as a copywriter, he was named metro Detroit's best singer in a contest by WNIC-FM 100.3 in 1984. From there he recorded his first original song, “Show A Little Faith,” which was a top request at the station for months; appeared on “Star Search;” recorded his first album of original music; and got requests to perform with the likes of Ortheia Barnes and Earl Klugh.

By 1990, he won the national Marlboro Music Talent Roundup with singer-songwriter Duane Allen Harlick as part of The Big Picture, a six-piece pop-soul group which opened for such acts as Hall & Oates, Eddie Money and Smokey Robinson. Scott left to pursue his own writing, a collection of “lyrically complex, heartfelt songs,” which he recorded in New York City but never released.

And then he quit. He got married, started a family and focused on business. Never to look back until now.

Many would understand. In the past two decades Scott found big success in advertising — a string of Addy, Effie and Direct Marketing Association of Detroit Target awards among them, all team efforts, he reminds — mostly at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, where he rose from copy supervisor in 1987 to president and managing director before his departure in 2008.

Then he came back to music for a second chance.

Last month he had a kind of coming out party at the Oxford Inn in Royal Oak, when he performed songs from his new CD, “Begin Again,” released late last year. It was his first live show in 17 years. That it was before a sold-out crowd “felt amazing,” says Scott. “I will always remember it.”

Today the native Detroiter who lives with his family in Bloomfield Township describes his sound as acoustic-based music with pop, folk and country influences. “Just below the surface there's a definite current of soul,” he says. “I am from Detroit.”

He's already lining up new shows, which he says are “different. This ain't bar-band territory. It's structured as a show in a listening-room environment.” Scott, supported by an eight-piece band, chats between songs about how he wrote them and what they meant at the time.

Beyond that, he regularly travels to Nashville to write and perform. “I'm hopeful I'll get ‘a cut' (a recording by another artist) soon,” he says.
Now as he immerses himself in a new job in advertising, as chief growth officer at Duffey Petrosky Co. in Farmington Hills, he says, “I'm also Jeff Scott, singer-songwriter. Which the folks at Duffey Petrosky understand and honor … pretty extraordinary for an ad agency in these times, eh?
Do you see yourself as a musician who works in advertising, or an ad guy who makes music?

I see myself as a multifaceted creative person who has been lucky enough to express those skills in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes and make a living at it. “Pigeonholing” is a pretty lazy approach to human relations. We're all complex and should be recognized as such.

Do you ever wonder what might have been had you stayed on the music path?

Not anymore. Ultimately, everything happens for a reason, and I really believe the music I'm writing and making now is authentically “me” and perhaps I needed the almost 20-year break to understand who I am and how that sounds and how it should be expressed. I'm happy it's turned out this way.

How has working in advertising helped your music career?

I'm able to treat my new music career more professionally and purposefully. I've also developed a network of friends and colleagues who are able to help me realize the business components of bringing music to market.

What musician most inspires you?

Jimmy Webb, the legendary songwriter of “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “All I Know,” and dozens of other contemporary hit American songs that have become standards while he's still alive. His ability to wring emotion from both lyrics and music is the gold standard. It's inspiring and something to aspire to.

Name one performer everyone should hear at least once?

Barbara Cook. At the age of 83, she remains the best singer in America, and the most powerful interpreter of popular songs. She has the capacity to bring you to tears in seconds, and you have no idea why.

What makes a song great?

What achievement are you most proud of?

Being a loving, engaged dad.

What's been your biggest challenge in the music biz?

To have expectations of any kind. Letting go of them has been a matter of time and maturity. Since I've done that, really nice things have happened.

First place you'd take an out-of-towner in Detroit?

Probably the Detroit Athletic Club, where I've been a member for a long time. The Tap Room is, hands down, one of the best bars in America.

What is your most treasured possession?

The $16 sterling silver engagement ring my wife gave me.

What's your best advice for someone who wants to work in advertising?

Be true to yourself and don't take crap from anyone.

What's your best advice to someone who wants to be a musician?

Be true to yourself and don't take crap from anyone.

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

Happy — like I am today.

You can see Scott perform at the Oxford Inn, Royal Oak, Sunday, March 28. Find out more about Scott at jeffscottmusic.com.
- Crain's Detroit Business/Detroit Make It Here March 2010


Review by Brian McCollum

The stirring, Seger-esque piano prelude fittingly sets the stage for the comeback record by local singer-songwriter Jeff Scott: "Begin Again" (***, self-released) is a textbook piece of Midwest pop-rock, splashed with a touch of Nashville soul.

Once a scene stalwart with his group the Big Picture, Scott split from the music life for an ad career before recommitting himself as a songwriter two years ago. The result is this warm, 13-song album of midlife meditations and slice-of-life storytelling, with Scott's hearty voice leading the way on gentle affirmations ("Don't Throw Away Today") and lofty fare ("Knight in Shining Armor").

There's an organic elegance to these arrangements, with fiddles, strings and gospel-girl vocals backing Scott's unfussy melodies. "Begin Again" presents an artist reinvigorated as he revisits his roots.
- The Detroit Free Press March 28, 2010


By Jim McFarlin


Success in music is often fleeting, and seldom allows repeating. Yet, as Jeff Scott hits the big five-oh, the age when many people feel midlife pressure to reinvent themselves, he has decided to go back for his future. He’s rekindling a once-promising musical career after a nearly 20-year intermission.

With the release of his 13-song CD Begin Again, Royal Oak native Scott, who came within a breath pause of 1980s stardom as a solo singer-songwriter and as front man of the Detroit six-piece band The Big Picture, is attempting to climb the pop-music mountain again, with the mature perspective only life experience can bring. “It’s amazing to have this opportunity,” he says. “It’s like I’m with Billy Crystal in City Slickers. I got a do-over.”

Scott spent 21 years at Campbell-Ewald Advertising in Warren, rising to president and managing partner of the agency. But he began singing and writing songs at age 8, and led a nine-piece band with full horn section by high school. “Two years before I left [the agency], I realized there was something missing from my life,” Scott says, “and it took me a while to figure out it was music, which I had walked away from.”

His memories should have been good ones. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he won WNIC-FM’s contest to find metro Detroit’s best singer. The original recording resulting from his victory, “Show a Little Faith,” topped the station’s request lists for months. That led to an appearance on Star Search, a solo LP release and the opportunity to perform alongside the likes of Earl Klugh and Ortheia Barnes. With singer-songwriter Duane Allen Harlick, Scott went on to form The Big Picture, winning the national Marlboro Music Talent Roundup and being featured on such stages as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

“We were this close,” Scott says. “We were signed to a management company in L.A. I got two reactions from record companies: ‘We like you, we hate the band,’ ‘We love the band, we hate you.’ The frustration of that experience led me to quit the business. I couldn’t stomach it.”

The push to Begin Again happened a little over a year ago at a Troy restaurant, when Scott sat in to sing with a friend, Jennifer Christiansen. “Mark Heckert, who was backing her up, walked over during a break and said, ‘We don’t know each other, but anyone who can sing like you and not be doing it for real is an idiot,’?” Scott says. “I’m indebted to him for kicking me in the butt.” Heckert co-produced the CD, which also served as the conduit for Scott and lead guitarist Harlick to collaborate again after not speaking in the 17 years since The Big Picture disbanded.

Now Scott employs his rich, enveloping baritone in Nashville as well as Detroit, frequently performing at the Bluebird Café and shopping songs to country producers. “Working as a songwriter is as fascinating to me as recording on my own,” he says. “I’m a writer. Always have been.” - HOUR Detroit March 2010


By RACHEL MAY

FREE PRESS LOCAL MUSIC WRITER


A little more than a year ago, I had the

opportunity to share the stage with some

talented local musicians as part of John D.

Lamb's singer-songwriter showcase.


Among the performers that evening was Jeff

Scott, a rich voice and talented writer whose

music resonated with me and the audience.


It was Scott's first time on stage in almost 17

years.


Now Scott has rekindled his musical flame and

will celebrate the release of his first solo CD with

a gathering set for Sunday at the Oxford Inn in

Royal Oak.


Scott was the lead singer and a songwriter for

Big Picture, a high-energy soul-pop band in the

late '80s and early '90s.


The band did quite well locally, and eventually

signed to a management firm, playing festivals

and snagging a series of opening slots for acts

like Hall & Oates, Eddie Money, Smokey

Robinson and others. But creative differences

and life priorities led to Scott's departure from

the band.


"I don't think it was intentional to walk away for

so long," he says. "Daily realities of life sort of

caught up with me. I had more responsibility in

the other career I had going, and suddenly a year

turned into five years turned into almost 20.


Scott started attending jam sessions and sitting

in with friends. "It was a gradual awakening," he

says. "I realized that music was missing from my life."


Things started to pick back up for Scott in 2009,

beginning with his return to the stage at the

songwriter showcase. During the past year, Scott

has traveled back and forth to Nashville, where

he rebuilt his confidence in performing.


Now comes the CD, a stunning collection of

songs that he calls "music for adults." He says he

wanted "to reflect my state of mind at this stage

of the game, after having not done this for so

long."


Sunday's performance will be a listening-room

experience. Scott will share stories about his

music and perform with his eight-piece band.


- The Detroit Free Press February 2010


Discography

Jeff Scott...The Long Way Home (CD; February 2012)

Jeff Scott...Begin Again (CD; January 2010)

The Big Picture...The Big Picture (CD; January 1992)

Jeff Scott...My Love b/w Heat Lightning (single; 1985)

Jeff Scott...Show A Little Faith (single; 1984)

Photos

Bio

Nominated for a 2012 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Acoustic Vocalist, and nominated for a 2011 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Recording Acoustic/Folk, and with his work characterized as "a stunning collection of songs" by the Detroit Free Press, Jeff Scott is redefining the notion of the singer-songwriter for today's adult listeners. Jeff has been recognized as an artist with a commitment to telling stories and uncovering feelings that are rare in their emotional clarity, and as a true song craftsman, creating gem-like combinations of lyrics and music that are seamless in their effect: beauty and memorability.

With the release of his CD, "Begin Again," in early 2010, Jeff reentered the music scene with a definitive statement of life, love and relationships, and ended a hiatus of close to 17 years. Given the interest in the work, he assembled a group of musicians to replicate the music live...and has been a sell-out draw in listening clubs in metropolitan Detroit. Moreover, Nashville has listened and approved, and Jeff's songs are represented there by one the nation's premier song placement agencies. Jeff has been featured on WJBK-FOX 2 TV, WXYZ-ABC TV, Mitch Albom's nationally syndicated radio show on WJR-AM 760 in Detroit, and in The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit Magazine, The Oakland Press, The Metro Times and more. His sets at the 2010 and 2011 Ford Arts, Beats and Eats Festival drew the acoustic stage's largest crowd of the three-day weekend.

Jeff's new CD, The Long Way Home, is set for release on Blue Boundary Records in February 2012. Featuring 10 songs, the CD is a significant step forward in sound and substance for the artist, and will feature the single, "In California." Jeff will support the release with various media appearances and live performances now being scheduled.

Jeff is the former co-leader of The Big Picture, winner of the national Marlboro Music Talent Roundup. They became festival draws and took on opening act duties for Hall & Oates, Richard Marx, Eddie Money, Smokey Robinson and more. Jeff and his bandmates released one album, The Big Picture, produced by Andre Fischer (Rufus, Natalie Cole) and Woody Woodruff (David Foster, Chicago). Has worked with Johnny Trudell, Ortheia Barnes, Millie Scott, Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson, Duane Allen Harlick, and more.