The ASCAP Foundation Announces the Harry Chapin Songwriters Workshop Established to Honor the Legendary Songwriter

April 13, 2017

Thanks to the generous support of Sandy Chapin, The ASCAP Foundation Harry Chapin Songwriters Workshop has been established in memory of her husband, the great American troubadour Harry Chapin.

The New York-based workshop will focus on the discovery, development and education of talented, aspiring songwriters. It features prominent guest speakers, giving advice on topics including A&R, music publishing, artist management and legal issues.

Harry Chapin, who made an indelible mark on the world with his musical storytelling, was also a dedicated humanitarian who fought to end world hunger. Known for his hit songs including "Taxi", "W*O*L*D", and the No. 1 hit "Cat's in the Cradle," Harry Chapin performed more than 250 concerts every year, and donated the proceeds for half of them to charity. He successfully lobbied Congress and President Carter to form a Presidential Commission on Domestic and International Hunger and Malnutrition, actively serving as a member of the commission.

Harry Chapin grew up in New York City near the Hudson River Piers, and then Brooklyn Heights. In 1957 Harry started to learn guitar and banjo, and in 1958 he and his brothers Tom and Steve started a band, playing in the neighborhood. In the mid 60’s he entered the film industry and received an Oscar nomination for his documentary Legendary Champions. In the late 1960s, Harry started writing narrative songs.

His first album, Heads & Tales included what was to become his signature song, the now classic Taxi, which became the most requested song in America for ten weeks in a row and earned Harry a Grammy nomination as best new artist. His next hit was W*O*L*D, and then in 1974 his wife Sandy wrote the words for his breakthrough hit, Cat’s In the Cradle which reached #1 on the charts and helped him earn another Grammy nomination as best male vocal performer, and a gold record for the album Verities and Balderdash. Altogether, Harry Chapin produced 11 albums including Sniper and Other Love Songs, Short Stories, and Sequel. He also won an Emmy award for this contribution to ABC’s television’s children series, Make a Wish, and his Broadway show The Night That Made America Famous earned two Tony Nominations.

Prior to his untimely death on July 16, 1981 in a car accident while driving to a benefit concert on Long Island, Harry Chapin, in 1975, co-founded what was to become his pet project, World Hunger Year, a charity designed to raise money to fight international famine. In 1987 Harry Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom and on December 7, 1987, Harry’s 45th birthday, a tribute concert was held in Carnegie Hall to celebrate his life and his music. Bruce Springsteen exhorted the audience to follow Harry’s activist example, saying “So, do something. And may his song be sung.”