It’s not every day a top Country songwriter cites Stephen King as a major influence. Well, today is the day to meet Melissa Peirce, a Nashville-based Disney Music Publishing tunesmith who has written songs for everyone from Reba McEntire to Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood.
Though deeply inspired by great Country artists and writers past and present, it was the famed novelist who may have offered up the best advice. “Stephen King said you have to write what you know or you’ll never be sincere,” Melissa notes. “Every day is different as a writer, but it has to come from something I relate to.”
That credo helped her write Tyler Farr’s hit single “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” which reached number one on the Billboard Country charts and earned Melissa a BMI Award and the coveted NSAI Award, “10 Songs I Wish I Had Written.” Melissa has also written hits such as the inspirational “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain” by Reba McEntire. It became one of 2003’s most played songs, earning Melissa an ASCAP Country Music Award. Her Top 10 hit “Red Light” went Gold for singer David Nail, and became the longest charting single of 2009, clocking in at a remarkable 42 weeks. It earned Melissa a BMI Award.
Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Joss Stone, the Eli Young Band, Emerson Hart and John Paul White (The Civil Wars), Striking Matches, EDM artist Cole Plante, Bea Miller and Hunter Hayes have all recorded Melissa’s songs. Other exciting releases from major artists are due later this year.
Born in Pennsylvania’s rural Bucks County, Melissa Peirce grew up surrounded by cornfields and listening to the one Country station her radio could pick up. Between an infatuation with 90’s Country and a steady diet of Beatles and Billy Joel, Melissa realized at an early age there was only one thing she wanted to do. By age 12, she had already started writing tunes.
“When I found out you could move to Nashville and be a songwriter and not be an artist, it was the happiest day of my life,” she says. “Writing songs was my love, so I packed up my bags at age 18, moved to Nashville and enrolled in Belmont College.”
She took an entry-level job at Giant Records, learning the music business from the ground up, while writing songs nights and weekends. Persistence and talent won out, and soon enough she landed her first music publishing deal. Once Reba McEntire – one of Melissa’s childhood idols — chose to record “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain,” she was off and running.
In addition to writing for the above-named artists, her song “That’s Where It Is” performed by Carrie Underwood for the Lionsgate movie “New In Town” starring Renee Zelleweger and Harry Connick Jr. She also recorded a pair of solo albums, which showcased her country, bluegrass, pop and acoustic influences.
Whether writing for herself or Country superstars, Melissa renders every song with style, grace and sophistication. “I’m a craft geek,” she says. “I love a blend of story, imagery and emotion, and when a song has all three, it knocks me over.”
A little more than two years ago, Melissa joined Disney Music Publishing as a staff writer. It’s been a fruitful alliance. She co-wrote three songs for Lucy Hale’s debut album, “Road Between,” including the title track. Additional internal releases include the end title for Disneynature’s “Bears” (“Carry On” performed by Olivia Holt), the original theme (“Open Your Eyes” performed by Bea Miller) for the debut of the WATERFIRE SAGA tween book series from Disney-Hyperion, and “The Real Thing (Kiss the Girl)” for “The Little Mermaid Greatest Hits,” three songs for Disney’s book/animated series “Star Darlings,” and “Silver Nights” performed by Hollywood Records artist Sabrina Carpenter.
The “Little Mermaid” project offers a clue to some of Melissa’s artistic goals. As part of the Disney family, she hopes to contribute to future Disney projects, from animated films to television series. Meanwhile, with more than 1,000 titles in her catalogue, she continues to generate some of the best songs in Music City.
“I’m still awed by the fact that you go in a room with nothing, and come out with a song,” she says. “Then to hear these great artists record it and make it their own, it’s a dream.