Harmony Samuels Writes & Produces Hit Songs For Ariana Grande, Fantasia, Chris Brown and Jennifer Hudson

Harmony Samuels
Harmony Samuels

British-born songwriter/producer Harmony “H-Money” Samuels has recently emerged as one of the top hitmakers in the pop & urban music fields. Now based in Los Angeles, he co-wrote & produced the Top 10 pop single, “The Way,” for singer/actress Ariana Grande (featuring Mac Miller). He has also co-written & produced singles for Fantasia, Ne-Yo, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Hudson, British rapper Chipmunk, and Jawan Harris.

In a competitive music industry where writer/producers are battling to place one or two of their songs with a hit artist, Samuels has remarkably placed multiple cuts on certain albums. He co-wrote & produced 12 (out of 13) songs on Fantasia’s latest album, Side Effects Of You, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Samuels co-wrote the first two singles, “Lose To Win” and “Without Me” (which featured Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliott). In addition, Samuels wrote & produced six songs on Grande’s just-released debut album, Yours Truly, and he co-wrote several songs for Jordin Sparks’ upcoming album.

Samuels has also had cuts with Maroon 5 (“No Curtain Call”), Chris Brown (“Say It With Me” and “Oh My Love”), Ne-Yo (“Don’t Make Em Like You”), Jennifer Hudson (“Think Like A Man”), Keyshia Cole (“Enough Of No Love”), Michelle Williams (“If We Had Your Eyes”), Brandy (“Without You”), and Chipmunk & Chris Brown (“Champion,” a big hit in the U.K.).

Born in Tottenham, North London to Nigerian parents, Samuels was just 4-years-old when he began learning how to play piano and bass. By age 12, he impressively became the musical director at his church. “When I was 18, I had a real passion for music (as a career),” recalled Samuels. “I attended Hertfordshire College and graduated with a Degree in Music. I also interned for (producer/writer) Nellee Hooper of Soul II Soul for two years, which was great.”

After graduating from college, Samuels began pursuing a career as a professional songwriter, producer & engineer. However, he found it difficult to break through in the tough, U.K. music industry. “The U.K. music business is very pop and (rock) band driven, and I was pidgeonholed as a black kid who only made R&B,” explained Samuels. “I became known as a remix guy for hits by Kelly Rowland, Craig David and Jamelia, but that was about it. I felt like I was stereotyped’it was so hard to break into the mainstream there.”

Samuels even considered giving up on the music business, and becoming a music teacher. “It was 2008 and I was very frustrated,” said Samuels. “But things began to turn around when I went to New York for an independent project (for mixing work). I got to meet Craig Kallman (CEO of Atlantic Records) and he liked my music. He suggested that I fly to Los Angeles to meet some of his clients there. So I went to L.A. and one of my meetings was at Interscope Records. (Hit writer/producer) Rodney Jerkins was in a nearby office and happened to hear my songs. Rodney really liked my music, so he came over and we started talking’we really connected. This led to me signing a producer deal and a publishing contract. I signed with Rodney and moved to L.A. (in 2009) to start all over again.”

Kelly Rowland, Harmony Samuels and Fantasia.
Pictured (l-r): Kelly Rowland, Harmony Samuels and Fantasia.

Samuels worked with Jerkins for a year-and-a-half. “Rodney’s my guy’I learned a lot by working with him,” he said. “It’s great if you can study with someone (as knowledgeable as) as Rodney. He taught me many things, like how to build my own studio.”

After a couple years of being settled in Los Angeles, Samuels started to get some key cuts. He wrote the song “No Curtain Call” with Adam Levine & Jesse Carmichael of Maroon 5, for the group’s platinum Hands All Over album. Samuels was also hired by urban A&R exec Mark Pitts to write & produce the single “Nobody” for teenage artist Jawan Harris.

Notably, it was at the video shoot for Harris’ single “Nobody” that Samuels met Chris Brown. Brown liked the song, so he walked over to Samuels and they started talking. It was soon after that Samuels & Brown co-wrote two songs (“Say It With Me” and “Oh My Love”) for Brown’s F.A.M.E. album, which later won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. “This was a crazy time for Chris; he had broken up with Rihanna and the paparazzi was always there,” recalled Samuels. “It was also during this time that I introduced Chris to (U.K. rapper) Chipmunk. We wrote & recorded the song ‘Champion’ (featuring Chipmunk & Brown) which became a big hit in the U.K.”

It was last year (2012) that Samuels began working with Fantasia. “Keith Naftaly (A&R exec at RCA Records) heard my song “Supernatural Love”, and he thought it would be good for Fantasia,” said Samuels. “It took awhile, but Fantasia came to my studio. We sat down and talked, and I played her some songs. She loved the songs and said, ‘Oh my God, why haven’t I met you before! The next day, we cut song after song. We cut each song back to back, in the same order that the album was later sequenced. I did 14 songs with Fantasia (12 which made the album). The label liked what they were hearing and said, ‘keep it going’.”

Samuels’ biggest hit to date is “The Way,” which was recorded by Ariana Grande (featuring rapper Mac Miller). “I had just finished three songs with Kelly Rowland, and her label (Universal Republic) asked me to work with Ariana,” he said. “She came to the studio and played me her music. I loved her voice! Then I played her ‘The Way’, and she jumped up and said she loved the song. She started crying…she said this was the record she’d been searching for. We ended up doing six songs together, including her new single, ‘Right There’.”

Currently, Samuels is working on songs for Jordin Sparks’ next album, and he’s also been working on the Best Man 2 movie soundtrack. “Jordin’s new album is great’it puts her in a whole different light,” he said. We just did a song called “Before It Breaks,” which is a duet between Jordin and Jason Derulo.”

In addition to producing these major artists, Samuels has now launched his label, B.O.E. Global, with his business partner, Chris Woods. He is excited about discovering and developing talented new artists. “I’ve signed an amazing new artist named Jamia’she’s like a modern day Brandy,” he said. I also want to spend more time developing our own artists for B.O.E.”

Here’s the link to Harmony Samuels’ company website: BOE Global

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima