For most people, trying to “make it” in the music industry is a long and arduous road, but nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor is paving the way with one success after another. Just last year, the Nantucket native signed a publishing deal with Big Yellow Dog Music, an award-winning music publisher in Nashville.
As a professional songwriter, Meghan now travels regularly from her homes on the Cape and Nantucket to Nashville, New York and Los Angeles to write and help produce country and pop songs. Her tunes span many genres, though she describes most of them as “pop with a Caribbean influence.” This fall, the publishing company will be sending Meghan to Sweden to write new songs in one of the world’s most pop-centric music capitals.
Just a year out of high school, Meghan spends her days working full-time in the music industry with some major players, writing songs for both male and female artists, for groups and solo acts. “It’s definitely a unique job, but very cool one,” she says. Her songs get pitched for television shows and films, as well as to national and international recording artists. Most recently, her song “In the Sun,” which she wrote with Thomas Stengaard and also features her on vocals and ukulele, was released in Denmark by the artist AYA.
But this young musician didn’t achieve success overnight; she has been hard at work honing her musicianship for years. In addition to singing and songwriting, Meghan plays guitar, piano, percussion, ukulele and trumpet. The daughter of Jewel of the Isle owners Gary and Kelli Trainor, Meghan attributes her early start to her musical family. “My father taught band at Nantucket High back in the late seventies and eighties and he plays the organ at the Methodist church. My aunt and uncle, Lisa and Burton Toney, are also performers and songwriters, so all of them have been encouraging me since I was eleven years old.”
At eleven, Meghan started writing her own original songs. “My dad bought me equipment to record the songs I was writing,” she recalls. By twelve, she was performing regularly with her family band, Island Fusion, at local venues like The Chicken Box and The Muse, as well as at Jetties and Children’s Beaches.
Between fifteen and seventeen, Meghan wrote, recorded, performed and self-produced three albums. During that time, she also received many honors and awards for her singing and songwriting, including winning Best Female Artist at the International Acoustic Music Awards in 2009, the Grand Prize at the New Orleans Songwriter’s Festival in 2010, and the 2011 John Lennon Love Song Songwriting Contest.
These days, Meghan is often traveling for work, doing daily writing sessions that can sometimes last all night. “Every day I’m with someone different,” she explains. “I will go to a studio and meet a songwriter for the first time and have to create a three-minute song with them.” In addition to writing, Meghan also sings the demos, both the lead and background vocals. “Even if it’s for a male artist,” she adds. Sometimes, her vocals are even used in the final cut. When she’s not traveling, Meghan works in her home studio, writing songs and emailing tracks back and forth with producers.
“I honestly don’t know what I would be doing without music,” says Meghan. “I’d probably be lost at college trying to find something to do for a living.” Though she was offered a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Meghan has decided to forgo college for now and put her time and energy into her career. In the next five years Meghan says she hopes to “become a successful songwriter in the pop world.” Clearly, she’s on the right track. Watch out, Taylor Swift!