There is a line in the Oscar-nominated song “Mighty River,” sung by Mary J. Blige, that says, “Ego's a killer, greed is a monster/But love is stronger, stronger than them all.” Songwriter Taura Stinson—who co-wrote the song with Blige and Raphael Saadiq––says this line could well apply to the music business. “You see people riding high and they are so inflated. Then the helium leaves the balloon. It’s not their talent, it’s their intentions and their ego,” she confirms.
Stinson is at a prominent career juncture. Her recent endeavors, writing songs recorded by major artists and featured prominently in films, belie a long and often tempestuous journey, she notes. “Anyone that has great success has also had great failure. I’ve had it and I’ve wanted to stop, but if this is something in you, something you were born to do, you can’t stop. If you stop then you’re not you anymore, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.”
Born in Birmingham, AL, and raised in East Oakland, CA, Stinson moved to Atlanta to write songs at the bequest of LA Reid. She worked with Matthew Knowles’ company as an A&R executive, where her inaugural project, The Awakening of LeAndria Johnson, won a Grammy award. She subsequently A&R’d six No. 1 gospel projects. “Then I went back to writing,” says Stinson. “I always go back to me and the pen.”
For the song from Mudbound, the director Dee Rees was hands off. “Usually the director is like, ‘I don’t like the word ‘The,” laughs Stinson. “Of course you trust Mary J. Blige. Because Mary is one of the stars of the film and so completely immersed in this character, she’s going to do it justice.” Stinson had previously worked with Blige in the musical film Black Nativity starring Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett. “To be associated with her in any way is a huge honor,” says Stinson.
As a songwriter, Stinson has penned songs for a broad range of artists including Destiny's Child, Kelis, Kelly Rowland, Deborah Cox and Earth, Wind and Fire. With longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq, she wrote and produced “Gonna Be Alright” as performed by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler for an animated film, Epic, starring Beyoncé. She also served as lead lyricist for the animated film Rio 2, starring Jamie Foxx and Anne Hathaway. She also co-wrote “Airplay,” the end-title for the film Beyond The Lights, and “Champions,” the end-title for the 2016 film Hands of Stone featuring Usher and Ruben Blades. Stinson and Raphael Saadiq also collaborated with composer Laura Karpman on the song “Jump,” the end title for the 2017 documentary Step.
A notable vocalist, Stinson was previously at the Academy Awards in 2015, singing in the choir behind John Legend and Common for their Oscar-winning song “Glory” from the film Selma. “When I was in the choir, I thought, ‘I’m going to come back here and I’m not going to be in the choir.’”
Stinson was on hand at the recent Golden Globe Awards wearing a black dress in solidarity with the movement against sexual harassment. “I can only wish that equality on all fronts could evolve as much as humanity. We’ve done so much as a people. We’ve made huge strides and then we hold each other back with violence and ignorance.”
100 Things Every Black Girl Should Know is a book that Stinson penned to share information and optimism. “If you are a 17-year-old girl on your way to college now, everywhere you look you will be inspired by women. You can say, ‘I can do everything that Oprah Winfrey said at the Golden Globes; everything Michelle Obama said. I can do everything that Dee Rees says. I can follow this path.’”
Taura Stinson believes in this essential message. “That’s what’s been needed this whole time and now we’re here and I’m so happy for everyone, and happy that we can tell our stories in entertainment and in every facet of life. This next generation is going to take this world and spin it in the opposite direction.”
Contact Ray Costa, Costa Communications Inc., 323-650-3588