Robbie Nevil is a singer-songwriter. Although he began his career with a hit song, "C'est la Vie," he has since turned his attention to writing and producing music for other singers. He co-wrote three songs for the popular High School Musical: "The Start of Something New," "We're All in This Together," and "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."
Born in Los Angeles, California, Nevil began playing the guitar when he was eleven years old, and over the next seven years he played in a series of cover bands. He was inspired by performers like Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire. Eventually, he began writing and performing his own songs, and when he was 18 he completed a demo tape of his original material.
He met with Rick Shoemaker of ABC Music Publishing, and Shoemaker became a mentor. Shoemaker taught him how the business worked: how to get his songs recorded by other singers and how to get his own artist recording contract. Meanwhile, Nevil spent his time playing session guitar, playing in Top 40 cover bands, and writing songs.
In 1983 Nevil managed to submit a song to producer Richard Perry, who wanted to record it with the Pointer Sisters. By this time Shoemaker was vice-president of MCA Music Publishing and had offered Nevil his first music publishing contract. Over the next two years, his songs were recorded by top bands of the time, including the Pointer Sisters, El DeBarge, Earth Wind and Fire, and Al Jarreau.
In 1985 EMI launched a new imprint, Manhattan, and Nevil was the first performer they signed. Nevil's manager at Manhattan was Ron Weisner, who had managed Michael Jackson, Madonna, Steve Winwood, and other singers Nevil admired. Nevil's first album was produced by Alex Sadkin and Phil Thornalley and recorded in England. In 1986 Nevil signed with Manhattan and released his first single, "C'est la Vie," which soared to the Top 5 in many countries around the world.
Nevil followed this with the release of a self-titled debut album, which launched two other Billboard Top 100 singles hits. Best known among these was the song "C'est la Vie," but the album also had two other hits, "Dominoes" and "Wot's It to Ya."
Mary Shaughnessy wrote in People, "At 24, Nevil has the kind of fluid tunefulness that is usually found in singers who have either developed under the tutelage of a demanding choirmaster or been in the business a long time." She also noted that Nevil did something that was relatively new at the time: using sound technology in the studio to enhance his voice.
Four years later, Nevil released A Place Like This, but its sales were disappointing, nowhere near the level of his debut album. His third album, Day 1, attracted even fewer sales.
Producer and Songwriter
Nevil has since switched his focus from performing to writing and producing music for other singers, including Babyface, Jessica Simpson, Destiny's Child, Ashlee Simpson, Jesse McCartney, and Raven. He has written songs for the soundtracks of many movies and television shows, including Beverly Hills 90210, Money Talks, New Pokemon, Princess Diary 2, Ice Princess, Brother Bear 2, Raising Helen, Fat Albert Movie, and Pacifier.
With songwriter Matthew Gerrard, Nevil also wrote three songs for the highly popular show High School Musical, and he teamed up with Gerrard again to write songs for the "Bratz" cartoon characters. The Bratz are "lifestyle fashion dolls," according to a press release on Marketwire, and have expanded into a Saturday morning cartoon series, music CDs, and DVDs. The first CD, Bratz Rock Angelz, debuted in Billboard's Top 100 in 2005, was number one on the Kids Audio Chart, and became one of that year's 100 best-selling albums. This was followed by Bratz Genie Magic and Bratz Forever Diamondz. The most recent installment, with songs by Gerrard and Nevil, is 2007's Bratz Fashion Pixiez.
Nevil is currently seeking new musical performers to promote; he described what he is looking for on his website: "new bands and solo acts with unique singing and performance abilities that I can shop to major record labels. Artists with truly amazing voices and styles."
Robbie Nevil, Manhattan, 1986.
A Place Like This, Manhattan, 1988.
Day 1, EMI, 1991.
Wot's It To Ya: The Best of Robbie Nevil, Razor and Tie Music, 1999.
For the Record …
Born Robert S. Nevil, February 10, 1960, in Los Angeles, California.
Worked as a session guitarist and songwriter; signed with EMI/Manhattan, 1986; released debut album, Robbie Nevil, 1986, A Place Like This, 1988; Day 1, 1991; Wot's It To Ya: The Best of Robbie Nevil, 1999; music producer and songwriter, 1999-.
Addresses: Record company—EMI, 150 5th Ave., New York, NY 10011.
People, April 13, 1987, p. 28; April 20, 1987, p. 30
"Artist Description for Robbie Nevil," Last.FM,http://www.last.fm/music/Robbie+Nevil?-wiki (February 27, 2007).
"The Girls with a Passion for Fashion," Marketwire, January 30, 2007, http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release_html_bl?/release_id=208844 (February 27, 2007).
"Robbie Nevil: Biography," VH1,http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/nevil_robbie/bio.jhtml (February 26, 2007).
Robbie Nevil Official Website, http://www.robbienevil.com/ (February 27, 2007).
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