What do Usher, Chris Brown, Beyonce and Ciara have in common? They’ve all had hits – big hits – with songs written by Sean Garrett.
His current projects include a track for Mary J. Blige’s upcoming greatest hits album, and new songs for Omarion, Fantasia, Mario and Enrique Iglesias.
But his most high-profile client at the moment, at least as far as the tabloids are concerned, is the newly-single Britney Spears.
“Her album’s going to be incredible,” Garrett told The Showbuzz. “I am really excited. She’s been very happy-go-lucky in the studio. Her mindset is great – she seems very focused.”
Garrett said that he is making sure he’s giving her some tracks that are “going to be talked about. Exciting, aggressive, fun. We’re definitely getting back to the basics with her. We’re trying to make the world dance and sing to her beat.”
So far, they’ve done seven songs for her album.
Dubbed “The Pen” by rapper and music mogul Jay-Z, the 29-year-old songwriter started his career as an R&B vocalist.
He signed a record contract at 17, while he was still living in Europe, and returned to the U.S. a few years later.
After a U.S. record deal failed to work out, Garrett decided to go back to school and then embarked on a lucrative career as a mortgage broker.
The creative spirit never left him and he eventually found his way back to music.
“I was writing a lot of songs and people were like, ‘you should write songs for other people outside of yourself,'” Garrett said. “One thing lead to another. A couple of radio stations heard some of my songs and that’s when I started getting noticed as a songwriter. So, I moved back to Atlanta, did a co-publishing deal with Hitco Music Publishing and the rest is history.”
His first big hit was “Yeah” for Usher in 2004, a song he knew from the beginning would be a smash.
“(Userh’s people) felt like it was a little bit out of his zone, but I felt it was perfect for him,” Garrett said. “I had the opportunity to listen to some of the songs on his ‘Confessions’ album before it was released. After listening to some of the songs, I felt like the album was great but he didn’t have a ‘Thriller’ or a ‘Billie Jean’ on the album, so that was the perspective I was pretty much aiming for.”
His aim was dead on. “Yeah” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks in a row.
Garrett followed up that hit with “Goodies” for Ciara, then continued his winning streak with “Run It” for Chris Brown, and “Soldier” and “Lose My Breath” for Destiny’s Child..His recent hits include “Buttons” for the Pussycat Dolls, “Ring The Alarm” and “Check On It” for Beyonce, and “London Bridge” for Fergie. He also has two songs on Mary J. Blige’s album “The Breakthrough” which is nominated for multiple Grammys this year.
It’s hard to imagine how Garrett finds the time to write and produce so many different artists. His secret is a combination of discipline – and lack of sleep.
“(My day) starts around eight in the morning,” he said. “Normally I try to work out for about an hour, and then it’s chaos till about 3 a.m. I try to get four or five hours of sleep a night.”
Somewhere in there Garrett manages to also find time to spend with his young son.
Garrett said that sometimes it can be stressful to juggle working with multiple artists at a time, but it’s worth it. “I work a lot of long hours, but it’s fun,” he said. “I can’t complain.”
He still hopes to revisit his career as a singer some day, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to quit his lucrative day job.
“I’m just putting things together for my album,” he said. “I’m not really ever going to compromise my day job. My day job is to do hits for stars. But there are quite a few songs that I’ve done that work perfect on me versus other people. I just love the music and I love creating music. I plan to be around for a very long time.”