Songwriter Profile: Tatiana Owens

In Los Angeles from New York for a week of songwriting collaborations, under a cascading crown of curls, Tatiana Owens lights up the corner of a Sunset Boulevard coffeehouse with charisma as luminous as her retro chic neon workout gear.

A powerhouse vocalist and a riveting live performer, Tatiana Owens is also a prolific songwriter. Her lyrics and music have been featured on NBC, CBS, MTV, VH1, Logo, Lifetime, ABC Family, Freeform, CMT, BET, USA and CW Networks. Her track “Pendulum” was included on the Universal/Def Jam Love and Hip Hop Compilation, and "Trigger" from her EP Colorful, has been utilized on multiple series including Ray Donovan and Shameless on Showtime, The CW Network's Dynasty, American Women on the Paramount Network and the UK series, Guilt.

Owens has a long relationship with the LA-based company Angry Mob Music, who procures these extensive placements. She addresses the psychology of sync: “I know that music supervisors love female empowerment songs like ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry; songs that are ‘Should I stay or go?’ and songs with a lot of positivity, about believing in yourself.” She says her song “Trigger” is emotionally adaptable. “It’s been used in a kissing scene, in a sex scene, and on Ray Donovan, after a shooting, when it was used literally. It’s good to have songs that mean more than one thing, but generally what works are relationships, empowerment and self-love.”

Although she had written poems and stories, Owens was not yet versed in songwriting when she arrived in New York from her hometown, Toledo, OH. “I was singing on a demo,” she remembers. “The songwriter didn’t have a second verse on a track I was recording, and asked if I wanted to take a stab at it. I wrote the second verse in five minutes, and he thought it was the best part of the song.”

Owens was raised on gospel music. “Israel Houghton was one of my mentors, and Shirley Caesar was my hometown pastor’s godmother, so I got a taste of these legends.” When Owens would visit her aunt’s house, it was a more secular vibe. “She would have on Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Chaka Khan. It opened me up to different worlds.”

Studying ballet at age three and tap-dancing by five, Owens was a student at Toledo School for the Arts from seventh grade through graduation. She studied jazz, pop, classical and opera and evolved to funk and soul. Musical theater expanded her range as she performed student roles in The Wiz and Rent. She was also booked for a professional gig at the historic Crosswell Opera House in Adrian, MI. “I love the experience of musical theater, because I love to act as well as sing.”

In December, Owens headlined a week at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. In New York, she performs regularly, including a monthly residency at The Groove, a funk/soul club in Greenwich Village. “It’s a well known tourist spot with visitors from Europe and Japan. A group of people from Africa tagged me on Facebook, and it’s amazing to realize that there are people from all over the world who can experience you as an artist,” she declares.

With the release of her EP, Colorful, Owens explores a sound with classic reference points counter-balanced by a 21st century perspective. She has been working on her full length, which she will title Colorful Too. Some of her newest songs are for that project, some for the sync uses, and she is also open to writing for other artists. “With the way the industry is always moving, I feel that it’s good to be diverse and open in your writing,” she confirms. Although she doesn’t define herself strictly as a songwriter, Owens’ voice is a powerful creative instrument. “Writing is not what I do every single day, but it comes along,” she says. And she finds inspiration everywhere. “I used an announcement from the subway for an opening line in one of my songs. I sang, ‘Stand clear of the closing door.’”

Contact Tom Bradley, TC Music, tc@tandcmusic.com