Songwriters Sing for their Rights at Annual ASCAP “We Write the Songs”

ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews, ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at “We Write the Songs.”

“This past year has been a wild ride in the fight for music creators’ rights,” said ASCAP Foundation President, Paul Williams.

In celebration of American songwriting, The ASCAP Foundation and The Library of Congress jointly held the tenth annual “We Write the Songs” event at the historic Coolidge Auditorium in The Library of Congress.  The event precedes ASCAP’s “Stand with Songwriters Advocacy Day” on Capitol Hill when music creators will meet with Senators to discuss the challenges facing songwriters in the digital music age and urge them to cosponsor the Music Modernization Act— bipartisan music reform legislation.

Jason Mraz performs his song “I’m Yours” accompanied by Sen. Tim Kaine on harmonica.

Hosted by Librarian of Congress Carla D. Hayden and ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams, ASCAP songwriters donated manuscripts, lead sheets, lyrics sheets, photos and letters to the library, as well as performed some of their most beloved songs… alongside Members of Congress including: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Dean Heller, Mike Enzi, Pat Roberts and Rand Paul and Representatives Ted Lieu, Ami Bera, Billy Long, Bob Goodlatte, Lamar Smith, Martha Roby, Steve Cohen, Marsha Blackburn and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“We want to follow the House and work in the Senate to, number one, make sure songwriters get paid and, number two, make sure they get paid a fair market value for what they create,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as he introduced Brandy Clark, who performed “Mama’s Broken Heart” (made popular by Miranda Lambert and “Hold My Hand”).

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introducing Johntá Austin, who performed “Be Without You,” (made popular by Mary J. Blige) and We Belong Together” (made popular by Mariah Carey), argued that “the Music Modernization Act is right around the corner. Creativity and the creative spirit is worth protecting. Here in Congress we do understand creativity matters.”

Mike Love of The Beach Boys performs alongside his son Christian Love.

Thanking Rep. Collins for his work on the Music Modernization Act, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) quipped: “Have you ever written a song with Paul Williams? Because I have.”  He then introduced Suzanne Vega, who performed “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.”

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) introduced Michael McDonald, who performed “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin’ It to The Streets.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced Jason Mraz, who performed “I Won’t Give Up” as well as “I’m Yours” …with Kaine accompanying Mraz on harmonica.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced Mike Love, who performed The Beach Boys’ hits “California Girls and “Good Vibrations.”

“They say Washington is a powerful town, but music is more powerful,” McCarthy admitted.  “It can educate us. It’s so powerful it can bring together Democrats and Republicans.”

*All images credit ASCAP “We Write the Songs”