Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Steve Dorff performs hits at UHCL
Steve Dorff is one of the most popular guys you’ve never met. You already know him, you just don’t realize it. Dorff, a 2018 inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, will be putting a face to the music you have been humming along with for decades at the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake on March 22 at 2 p.m.
“Everyone knows my songs,” said Dorff. “This concert is the story behind my new book, titled ‘I Wrote That One Too … A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney.’ I am Oz behind the curtain, and I’ve been writing the soundtrack of people’s lives for years.”
Even though he’s not the face of such hits as “Through the Years,” made famous by Kenny Rogers, or “I Cross My Heart,” performed by George Strait — among many more, Dorff said this concert tour is his chance to let the audience put it all together.
“People are really surprised to know all that I have written,” he said. “My career is all about diversity. I have composed TV show themes, film scores, and hit records in pop, country and other genres. I think this is what got me into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.”
Dorff’s dossier also includes three Grammy nominations, six Emmy nominations, nine number one film songs, 15 Top 10 hits, and 11 Billboard Number One awards. Over 250 artists from all genres have covered his compositions.
He added that he will perform a number of “little gems” that weren’t necessarily big hits, but people still remember. “I’ll play a song from a TV show and people will react,” he said. “Most people know me for the big hits from the films and the pop and country charts, but the big surprise here is that I’m the guy with the crazy hair and glasses, and I’m saying I wrote these things.”
Dorff said that one of the most fun stories he tells in his book and at his concerts is about “I Cross My Heart,” from the movie, “Pure Country.” The song was released in 2004 by George Strait. “People don’t realize that each of these songs has its own journey,” he said. “I wrote ‘I Cross My Heart’ over eight years before George Strait recorded it for that movie. Bette Midler recorded it previously. But when I wrote it, I had Boyz II Men in mind. I played that song for everyone I knew and they all passed on it.”
Even Strait had at first said the song had too many chords and it didn’t sound like a song he’d sing, but he recorded it. “Now it’s a standard,” he said. “What makes a hit is that marriage between the right song and the right voice. That’s what made it a big hit.”
He said that when people hear a hit song that they love on the radio, they assume it’s a brand-new song just because it’s the first time they’ve ever heard it. “People don’t know it takes years between the time a song is born till it’s on the radio,” he said. “Several artists passed on ‘Through the Years’ before Kenny Rogers recorded it. And ‘I Just Fall in Love Again,’ which was one of Anne Murray’s biggest hits in 1979, was passed on by Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield. They didn’t want to put it out as a single, so Anne did, and it became a monster hit.”
But, said Dorff, there’s a reason why he’s not the front man for his music. “When you hear me sing one or two of my songs, you’ll know why I’m a composer, not a singer,” he said. “I was never about performing. I was always about arranging, producing, and working behind the scenes. I loved the anonymity. But with the book, I have been coaxed into coming out and becoming the face of my songs.”
Dorff said he hoped the concert and the book were both a trip down memory lane for the audience. “I do some new songs that I hope are hits waiting to happen,” he said. “For the most part, I play songs that people have heard and will remember where they were in their lives, and they know what certain songs mean to them. This evening will be a combination of all that.”
Read more online for tickets or find more information about the Bayou Theater online.