Alumnus of the Month: April 2009
Dennis Scott '74
What is your edge (strength)?
Creativity on the spot.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Being surrounded by interesting students and insightful professors.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
What was your favorite class?
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Touring and playing music with The Hofstra Music Repertoire Company.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Music producer, composer, writer.
Who in your field do you most admire?
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
Teaching English at Kings Park High School. I learned there was a lot more to be learned.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Life is not a rehearsal. If you have a dream, go for it. But if you do, go for it all the way!
How do you balance work and life?
That’s a toughie. I struggle with finding time for both family and work. I find the best way to deal with it is to never sleep! That way you have more time for everything.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still writing, still producing, still playing music. Why stop?
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
After producing a tribute album to the late Mister Rogers, I received a phone call from his widow, Joanne Rogers. She told me, “Fred would have loved this album.” That was a pretty special moment.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
Given my physical stature, it would have to be, “good things come in small packages.”
Two-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer/writer/performer Dennis Scott has left no corner of the children’s music industry unexplored. His songs have been performed by such diverse artists as Faith Hill, Ray Charles, Sugarland, Allison Kraus, The Muppets, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Trisha Yearwood, Donna Summer, The Charlie Daniels Band, Shari Lewis, Jon Secada, Roberta Flack, Tanya Tucker, Gilbert Gottfried, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, and Ben Vereen. He's won two Grammy awards, an Emmy and a Parents’ Choice Award and has been nominated for countless other honors. His work can be heard on radio, television, stage, audio books, home videos, recordings, and even on CD-ROM. He writes, produces, and composes custom songs and music for all aspects of the entertainment industry.
"I've always been an ideas person, and music has always played a prominent role in my life," says Dennis. "I enjoy the creative process, so I'm constantly generating new ideas. At the same time, I like doing new projects for clients to which I can contribute my own particular style of music."
In his first serious foray into the children’s music genre, Dennis scored with a Grammy for his work as producer on Sesame Street Country (1981), a collection of country-flavored kid's tunes. He has had nonstop assignments since, including projects for Quaker Oats, Sony Kids, Walt Disney Records, Random House and the National Child Safety Council. His work is also featured on video games and other interactive toys.
Scott-penned songs have been featured on television shows ranging from Who's the Boss and The Guiding Light to Fame and Hee Haw. His "Always a Friend," performed by Ray Charles on an episode of ABC-TV's Who's the Boss, generated an overwhelming number of inquiries to the show's producers, and he continues to receive mail from brides asking to use the tune at their weddings.
Scott's own studio serves as the command center for the controlled chaos you would expect from a man whose assignments can have him creating for a soap, a troll and a major recording artist, all while he might be working up parodies for a prominent corporation's roast.
Dennis has served as music director for several children's television shows, including the PBS series Noddy for which composed and produced more than 100 original songs. Drawing on his experience in the theater, he enjoys writing music and lyrics that help develop the show's characters and move the action forward. Hal Leonard Music commissioned Dennis to write both the script and songs for a new kids musical called Motion of the Ocean. He is also a contributing writer for Sesame Street Live and composed a new score for the live touring show of Scholastic's Magic School Bus.
“When your childhood heroes are people like Danny Kaye, Jack Benny and Jerry Lewis, you can't help but have a silly side to you. Creating and producing music, particularly children's music, allows me to be as silly and creative as I want to be ... Now that's my kind of job description!"