Harriet Schock, who graduated from The Hockaday School, is a singer, songwriter, teacher, author and actress. She made three albums in the ’70s, scoring gold and platinum awards for her Grammy-nominated hit “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,” which Helen Reddy sang in 1975. In addition, her songs have been performed by Charlene, Roberta Flack, Howard Johnson, Manfred Mann, Johnny Mathis and more. She grew up on Averill Way.
What career accomplishments are you most proud of?
Most people would think it would be that I had a Grammy-nominated No. 1 record by Helen Reddy, and that is important to me. But the fact that another song on one of Reddy’s albums was called “Mama,” which also went gold, was important. My mother got to go backstage at her concert and say, “I’m the mama that was written about.” I also wrote a song about my father on my third album and a song about my sister on my sixth album. These are personal wins for me. In 2017, LA Women in Music honored me at a black-tie, red-carpet event, which was for career achievement and contribution. I have a big ol’ honking trophy on top of my piano.
What are you working on now?
What have you overcome in your career?
It was scary when I was recording in the ’70s and disco came out because I was definitely not that. I was a singer/songwriter in the genre of Carole King and Carly Simon. I dropped from the label and started writing for film and TV. The University of Southern California asked me to teach songwriting. I became a songwriting coach. Then 17 years after the label dropped me, I started recording again with the legendary Nick Venet. The disaster turned out to be a period of time when I honed my skills.
What misconceptions are there about your industry?
When I first started, people thought the singer wrote the songs. They’re a little hipper now.
What are you most proud of beyond work?
I’m proud of the songwriting community that I helped put together. For 23 years, I hosted a showcase for LA Women in Music. For the last six and a half years, I’ve hosted a singer/songwriter showcase called SNAP, Sunday Night at the Pavilion. I’m the “six degrees of separation” songwriter here. Everyone knows me or knows someone who knows me. Because songwriters are often isolated when writing, becoming part of a community is healthy for us. These people — my students and colleagues — have become an extended family.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Nick Venet said, “Everybody writes, and everybody sings, but not everybody tells the truth, and it’s the truth that touches people.” After I heard that, I started writing at a truer level.
Who was your greatest influence?
Ray Charles. When I hear his soulfulness and conversational approach in my songs, I know it’s my best work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Someday you’re going to need that time back you spent worrying about things.
What advice do you have for those who want to be songwriters?
Do it because you love it. Don’t do it for the money. There’s no feeling in the world like finishing a song and playing it for an audience or the person you wrote it for.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cared about other people enough to make them feel like I shared an experience. Also, as someone who helped others write better songs.
Have you experienced gender discrimination?
When I was first trying to get a record deal, labels would say, “We can’t sign you. We already have a woman.”
What are your memories of Hockaday?
I was there from fifth through 12th grade. My love of language came from the vocabulary lists we memorized every week. My love of music came from Glee Club and Aaron Copland records that teacher Samuel Adler had me go home and listen to. My entire career is founded on what I learned at Hockaday.
What are your memories of Preston Hollow?
I’m grateful for the fact that I grew up there. The more I teach, the more aware I am that not everyone was supported by their families. My father was a doctor, but he did not pressure me to become a doctor. When I had my first hit, he was so proud. The fact that my parents understood my dream is amazing. Like they say, “Texas is a good place to be from.”
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