Club + Bars

Producer helps stars make music

As a songwriter and producer, Jodi Marr has written music and lyrics for Ricky Martin, Paloma Faith, Alejandra Guzman and Paulina Rubio.

It all started when her dad bought her an organ when she was 5. The instrument came with two years of free lessons. Soon, she was studying classical piano.But it wasn’t music theory that gave her the push to sing. After her father bought Marr a pony, he convinced her that the only way for the pony to walk was if she sang to him. That was all she needed to hear. Marr also received singing lessons in school and church choir. “I think I was born with music in my soul.”Years later, following the death of her father, she found herself temporarily unable to play piano.“I could still sight read and had the pieces in my memory. I just couldn’t connect the motor skills of my fingers to the brain waves,” Marr said.She began to teach herself how to play again by paging through pop music songbooks.Writing came easier. She had been keeping a journal since she was 5, and majored in English and Spanish at the University of Miami. After graduating, she moved to Spain, and finished her studies at the University of Granada. After returning to the States, she became a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State.“I did it for a couple of years until someone in the publishing world heard my songs and encouraged me to quit my job.”The change had an immediate impact — on her wallet. Marr said she went from a six-figure salary to making an hourly wage at a record company and singing in bars.But the new career had its benefits. She soon met Desmond Child, known in the music industry as “The Song Doctor” for his role in writing hook-heavy pop hits for Ricky Martin (

Livin’ la Vida Loca

), Kiss (

I Was Made for Loving You

), Bon Jovi (

Livin’ on a Prayer

), Aerosmith (

Dude [Looks Like a Lady]

) and many others.In 2002, Child signed Marr and her band, Big, to the Universal label. The band didn’t record an album, but the deal led to other opportunities for Marr.“The wonderful thing about Jodi Marr is that she is always uniquely Jodi, from business to art to friendship,” said child.“Every layer of her is genuine throughout and pure. That kind of authenticity is what resounds in her music and touches one instantly from her first delightfully raspy hello to the last note.”Ellen Moraskie, former senior vice president of Warner/ Chappell in Miami, signed Marr to her first publishing deal. The same year, she began working with Guzman on projects including the album


which won a Latin Grammy for Best Rock Solo Vocal. She also helped develop U.K. pop artist Mika with former production partner John Merchant. Marr and Mika’s song

Grace Kelly

topped the charts in Europe and helped establish the singer’s identity in the U.S. They also collaborated on the theme song of the 2010 movie

Kick Ass

along with Lady Gaga’s producer Red One.Marr, who grew up on a ranch in Hialeah, now calls Miami Shores home. “I work in all major music cities, but I live between Miami and London mostly,” she says. “I always say I don’t live in Miami, I leave from Miami.” Marr works with George Noriega, a producer whose clients include Shakira, Martin, Gloria Estefan and

American Idol

judge Jennifer Lopez.“We’ve written over 50 songs together and every time we make music, she still keeps amazing me with her talents,” said Noriega.Although she is not Hispanic, Marr speaks Spanish with a Cuban accent and is widely known in the Latin pop industry. “I was born in Hialeah, so I learned to speak Spanish before English,” said Marr who also speaks French, Portuguese and Italian.She has some advice for aspiring artists who hope to become the next J.Lo:“I think many young artists today in the

American Idol

age, are more interested in being celebrities first and artists second, but those with longevity are always those who strive to be original, and be their own artist, speaking with their own voice.”