Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI MUSICIANS: Glen Ballard


Glen Ballard Glen Ballard

Major Works

  • You Oughta Know (1996)
  • Hold On (1991-1992)
  • Ironic (1997)
  • Back on the Block (1990)
  • The Places You Find Love (1990)
  • Man in the Mirror (1989)
  • You’re in Love (1992)
  • Release Me (1991) 

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Glen Ballard: A Biography
By Justina Hamil (SHS)

Glen Ballard is a veteran songwriter/record producer.  He was born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1953.  Glen started playing the piano as soon as he could crawl.  Later, he added the guitar to his list of accomplishments.  Glen was ten years old when he wrote his first song, and he was in local rock bands beginning in the fifth grade. Glenn Ballard in his studio

Ballard has a love for diverse musical styles.  When Glen was younger, Jerry Lee Lewis lived within ten miles of his Natchez home, and young Ballard grew up watching him perform.  Glen’s favorites included southern rhythm and blues singer Irma Thomas, Memphis-based soul singer Al Green, and nearly all of the great blues and jazz singers emerging from New Orleans.  When the Beatles became popular, Ballard’s appreciation of popular music expanded.

Glen Ballard attended the University of Mississippi, where he studied English, political science, and journalism and  he graduated with honors.  He had the option of attending either  graduate or law schools, but Ballard was intent upon a career as a songwriter.  Within a week of graduation (1975), he packed his bags and moved to the West coast.

After moving to the West coast, Ballard immediately joined Elton John’s organization in Los Angeles.  Starting out as a lower level assistant, Ballard eventually ended up playing piano for Kiki Dee.  He was writing constantly, and when Dee recorded “One Step,” one of Ballard’s songs,  in 1978, Ballard had his first chart singles.  This success enabled him to secure a professional songwriting job at MCA Music Publishing.  Even though Ballard was only earning $100 a week, he was occupied full-time with the work he loved.

During the ‘70's and ‘80's, Ballard composed scores of songs, including “What’s on Your Mind,”  a Quincy Jones produced hit for George Benson, along with many others for various artists.  Quincy Jones saw promise in Ballard and took him under his wing.  Thanks to his connection with Jones, Ballard’s “Try Your Love Again” appeared on James Ingram’s 1983 debut album, It's Your Night. Glen wrote and produced two tracks for Patti Austin entitled “Its Gonna Be Special” and “Shoot the Moon.”  By the time Austin’s album came out in 1985, Ballard was writing and producing full time for his mentor, Quincy Jones, at Quest Records. Once Ballard learned to apply his wide-range of musical sensibilities,  he produced for rhythm and blues artist Evelyn “Champagne” King, Teddy Pendergrass, and Jack Wagner.  Ballard wrote “All I Need” for Wagner, and it soared to the top of Billlboard's pop chart.

Spurred by his own success, Ballard went independent.  He had a number one hit for George Strait, “You Look So Good in Love." which became the 1986 country song of the year.  The same year he co-wrote “Man in the Mirror,”  which appeared on Bad, Michael Jackson’s acclaimed sequel to Thriller.  “Man in the Mirror” was also produced by Quincy Jones, and it featured Ballard’s synthesizer arrangement and keyboards.  This song raced to the top of the rhythm and blues charts and today it remains one of the King of Pop’s . . . and Ballard’s most popular songs.

Ballard has worked with some of the most revered names in the industry: Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, George Strait and Barbra Streisand, just to name a few.  He is also credited with launching the  debuts by Curtis Stigers, Jack Wagner, Paula Abdul, Wilson Phillips and the  multi-grammy winner Alanis Morissette.  Ballard co-wrote and produced “Jagged Little Pill” for Morissette.  This combination of talent resulted in five Grammy nominations and three wins of his own.  He has followed this collaboration with Morissette by producing the upcoming Aerosmith album (their first for Sonny due this fall).  Once the work on this album is complete, Ballard heads back to the studio for Alanis Morissette’s new album.

He has performed on or produced the following:  1997 Grammy Nominees (1997), Jagged Little Pill (1995),   My Cherie (1995),  Naked And Sacred (1995), Time Was (1995), Alone In A Crowd (1993), Greatest Hits: Songs From An Aging Sex Bomb (1993), Lea Salonga (1993), Love Come Down: The Best Of Evelyn "Champagne" King  (1993),  Shadows And Light (1992), Trey Lorenz (1992), Curtis Stigers (1991),  Shut Up And Dance (1990),  Forever Your Girl (1989), Bad (1987), Workin' It Back (1985),  Break Out (1983),  All I Need,  and   Lighting Up The Night.

Ballard has written an original screenplay ClublandClubland is a music-driven film which he plans to produce next summer with David Foster as executive producer.  Ballard will oversee what promises to be a hit-laden soundtrack.  He has written songs in half-a-dozen films including  The Slugger’s Wife, Navy Seals, and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

Ballard has lived a very successful life, and he is still young.  He describes himself as a “musical chameleon.”   His success is known throughout the world.  Ballard currently resides in Encino, California, where he runs a recording studio called Java. 

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Timeline

1953 Glenn was born in Natchez, MS
1963 Wrote his first song
1975 Moved to West Coast
1983 “Try Your Love Again” appeared on James Ingram’s Album
1985 Wrote songs in The Slugger’s Wife
1985 Writing/producing for Quincy Jones
1986 “You Look So Good in Love,"  won Country Song of the Year
1988 Wrote songs in Everybody’s All-American
1989 Wrote songs in Tap
1989 Wrote songs in Lean on Me
1990 Took home an award for arranging “The Places You Find Love”
1990 Wrote songs in Navy Seals
1990 Grammy Awards for “The Places You Find Love” and “Back on the Block”
1993 Wrote songs in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
1996 Won Grammy Awards for “Jagged Little Pill” and “You Oughta Know”
1997 Wrote an original screenplay, Clubland
1997 Grammy Award nominations for “Ironic” 

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Related Websites

Alanis producer Glen Ballard working with Van Halen

Lisa Marie Presley may be in the market for some pointers from Alanis Morissette,  Elvis's love child has signed a record deal with Glen Ballad's Java Records.

Alanis Morissette hasn't started recording her new CD   yet, and while it looks like she'll be teaming up with producer/co-writer Glen Ballard again  sometime in the next two or three months, neither appear to be in any hurry.

Alanis' Producer Gets His Own Label

Glen Ballard produced the  world's largest-selling album by a female artist on his  Euphonix.

Discography for Glen Ballard.

Titles of songs for Morissette's Jagged Little Pill by Morissette and Glen Ballard.  Site includes lyrics.

40th Annual Grammy® Awards Coverage--nominated for Best Long Form Music Video--  Jagged Little Pill, Live - Alanis Morissette (Alanis Morissette & Steve  Purcell, video directors; Glen Ballard, David May, Alanis Morissette &  Steve Purcell, video producers).

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