Composer, performer and songwriter Jack Williams was a chef in Atlanta working part-time as a roadie when he landed his first big break—by knocking on '60s folk icon Richie Havens’ hotel room door and handing him a cassette. It resulted in Havens inviting Williams to New York to be his opening act. Ever since, Williams has pursued opportunities and connections in similar bold fashion.
“What’s been successful for me is I’m not afraid to reach out and talk to people,” says Williams. “If I see a show with my wife and love it, and I did this with the Netflix series Hinterland, you see in the credits the music was composed by so-and-so, and I try to find that person and contact them ... Some people don’t answer. Some people say, ‘Leave me alone.’ Some say, ‘Yeah, let’s hear your stuff.’”
Williams has worn many musical hats as a session musician, commercial songwriter, and performer, but more recently has been focusing on creating music for television and movies. This summer, Kevin Costner and Modern West released the album Tales from Yellowstone, a compilation of songs inspired by the show Yellowstone. It features four tracks that Williams co-wrote, including “Won’t Stop Loving You,” with Costner and others.
As someone who’s written commercial music his whole life, Williams says he’s happy to focus more on placing songs in film and TV. “Commercial writing is a small box where you have to say certain things, make things shiny and polished, whereas songs for TV shows and film, you can say anything you want, make it as dark as you want. That’s what I like.” He says he’s taking advantage of the lull COVID-19 has had on film production to build up his catalog.
“Most of the time, directors and music supervisors say, ‘We’re looking for a song tomorrow.’ Right now, they’re just getting back to shooting and not looking for anything until early 2021,” Williams says. “The smart thing to do is write all the songs you can, so when they are looking, you’ve got a big old bag of goodies.”
For more information, visit hjackwilliamsmusic.com.
Jessica Pace is a music journalist-turned-news-reporter based in Durango, CO. She is from Nashville, where she started a writing career by freelancing for publications including American Songwriter and Music Connection. Contact her at [email protected].