Education

Lisa Loeb and other songwriters bring teen girls' songs to life

Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb performs a rap she's written with a group of teens during a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb performs a rap she's written with a group of teens during a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
Courtesy of Thomas Hargis
Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb performs a rap she's written with a group of teens during a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
Singer-songwriter Jill Sobule workshops a song with a teen during a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.
Courtesy of Thomas Hargis
Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb performs a rap she's written with a group of teens during a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
Lisa Loeb performs a song written by 17-year-old Lauren Cook during a workshop at the Huntington Library in Pasadena on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.
Courtesy of Thomas Hargis


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Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb debuted a new song on Saturday afternoon to a crowd of more than 100 teen girls at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.

Can I say I'm broken? Can I say I'm scared? Can I say I'm just a shell of a girl? Cuz If you knew me, if you knew me, you'd already know.

She'd written the melody just minutes before and the lyrics were written earlier that day by 17-year-old Lauren Cook.

This was part of a songwriting workshop put on by WriteGirl, an organization which provides free, year-round training and mentorship in various forms of writing to teen girls from all over Los Angeles County. At this workshop, seventeen professional songwriters spent a day with the girls teaching them the tricks of the trade and workshopping their songs. They each chose one song to set to music and perform for the group.

Cook, a student at Glendora High School, had never heard of the '90s star known for her hit "Stay (I Missed You)," but she was thrilled that her song was picked for the performance. It was the first she's ever written. "I was like,' Oh my gosh! They’re singing my song," Cook said. "This is amazing!" 

Each songwriter brought their own style to the lyrics -- performing them as bluesy-rock songs, belted musical numbers or powerful piano ballads. 

Lauren Cook, left, works with singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 during a workshop at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The workshop was Cook's first time writing song lyrics. Loeb chose to set her lyrics to song and perform them for the group.
Lauren Cook, left, works with singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 during a workshop at the Huntington Library in Pasadena. The workshop was Cook's first time writing song lyrics. Loeb chose to set her lyrics to song and perform them for the group.
Courtesy of Katie Geyer

WriteGirl founder Keren Taylor, a former professional songwriter, says exposing young girls to the wide breadth of potential in life is part of the mission of the organization. "It opens up a young person’s mind to: 'there’s so much possibility out there,'" Taylor said. "'I didn’t think of those options.' So metaphorically I think that helps young people to see that there are choices and options that they never thought of."

Loeb said the process was rewarding for the pros as well.

"When it comes down to writing a song it is like you’re starting from the beginning again. So it is really touching and amazing to be able to sit with people who really are starting from the beginning," said Loeb.

WriteGirl was founded in 2001 and was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2013. They match at-risk teen girls with women writers for mentorship.