But He Will Always Be A Mountaineer At Heart
By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
While some people have a difficult time choosing what they would like to do in life, Scott Simons says his choice just came naturally. Perhaps it was exposure to the arts … or perhaps it was genetic since both of his parents were talented and involved in the arts. Whatever it was that helped shape his decision to pursue the music industry as his career of choice, he is grateful to have had the support of his parents and friends in the Mountain State.
Scott is the son of the late Mike Simons, who is still remembered by many area residents as the affable weather anchor on WBOY-TV, and Cyndy (Simons) Straight of Fairmont, who still participates in numerous area theater productions.
“I grew up in Bridgeport, and we were a very middle class family – my mom a teacher and my dad a television weatherman,” Scott said. “But they prioritized me. I remember one year when I was a young teenager, they bought me a top-of-the-line keyboard for Christmas. I’m sure they paid way too much for it, but that is an example of just how much they supported me and encouraged my interests. I was so very fortunate to have their endorsement.”
Scott remembers his father putting him on stage at the early age of three in his first production! And as it became clear that music was going to be a serious pursuit for Scott, his dad encouraged him to write some jingles, one of which became the WBOY 6 p.m. theme music for which Scott’s name was listed in the credits at the end of each broadcast.
“As a 15-year old, I always thought that was the coolest thing!” Scott laughed. “And even more amazing, my dad arranged for me to play keyboard for some cover bands at some of his friends’ local restaurants and bars and I was still ‘underage’ at the time. Yet composing some of these jingles for local radio and television stations, I think, greatly influenced me to study music in college.”
A graduate of Bridgeport High School, Scott attended West Virginia University and played saxophone in the PRIDE of West Virginia Marching Band. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Composition, Scott remained in the Morgantown area, playing in a band called The Argument that independently toured 25 states for nearly a dozen years. The Argument performed twice on public radio’s ‘Mountain Stage’ and was named one of the ‘Top Ten Unsigned Bands in America’ by the American Music Awards.
“To supplement paying the bills during those years, I taught Pre-K through 8th grade at the Morgantown Learning Academy, was a substitute teacher in Monongalia County, and gave private piano lessons. But after The Argument had gone through several large cargo vans traveling the country – and after the last one ‘bit the dust’ – we finally decided to hang it up. It wasn’t that we weren’t talented enough or hard working enough, it just wasn’t the right time,” Scott added without regret.
He began writing music, something he had always wanted to do. He wrote and produced for other artists, using some of his contacts from his ‘band days’ and made frequent writing trips to Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. He ultimately moved to Pittsburgh and eventually got a publishing deal.
“I think I always knew that if I was serious about this, I would have to leave West Virginia, but I always suspected I’d end up in New York,” he said. “I was advised, though, to head west for LA, and that’s what I did. I’ve been here for nine years now, living in West Hollywood, and it’s opened many doors. However, it’s the nature of the music industry that you can’t do just one thing, so I am producing and writing and have a duo called TeamMate … and I’ve landed a lot of work, making records and commercials, and have done some songs on TV shows. I would like to grow this in the future. ”
Some of the doors that have opened since his move west include: singing the Emmy-nominated theme song for Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol” and Netflix/Dreamworks “Veggie Tales”; he has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Anderson Cooper Live, and Ellen; he has written for European dance groups and a female vocal group in Thailand; played piano and taught the performers their songs through five seasons of America’s Got Talent; worked behind the scenes and in front of the camera on The X Factor as well as doing work for American Idol and The Voice; has done background singing for the TV show ‘This Is Us’ and some Disney shows. Most recently, he was hired as the music director for the upcoming season of ‘Little Big Shots’, which Scott calls his biggest challenge yet.
‘Little Big Shots’ host Steve Harvey is also a West Virginia native, but Scott says that had no influence on this opportunity coming his way. “It was a culmination of a lot of things I have done in the past. I was recommended by someone with whom I had worked in the past … plus my experience of working on other TV shows and my teaching experience. It all helped me land this job.”
Scott spoke of his experiences working on some of the popular talent competition shows, saying, “You have to understand that there are few people working here in this industry who are originally from LA. They are people from small towns all over the United States who have migrated here just like I did – seeking opportunities to pursue what they love doing. The talent competitors, too, come from small towns and their communities are excited to see them compete and want to support them. I think it’s important to treat them all fairly, respect them for trying to make it in this industry, and give them that chance to succeed.”
Scott says that hailing from West Virginia has helped to keep him grounded. He continued, “You must understand that the Los Angeles metropolitan area is a massive place with literally millions and millions of people. In fact, by comparison, if you count the number of people who work on some of these shows, they would total the size of a small town like where I was raised! It’s tough to make it in this industry and perhaps one of the saddest things is that some kids from small towns who have an interest in the arts don’t have a shot because they don’t have arts in their communities. But talent is talent, and if it’s what you want, you simply can’t let anything stop you. Fortunately, coming from West Virginia, I learned all about having a strong, committed work ethic and it has served me well.”
Musical notes seem to have always run through Scott’s bloodstream, but his intense interest in music from such an early age may have meant that he was labeled as “different” at times during his youth. But he says that his parents always told him to never be ashamed of doing what he loved doing.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have always had the support of my parents, and that was a tremendous advantage. Although piano is my main instrument, I can play a little bit of everything, and being diverse has been an asset as well. I think my dad, without even knowing it, helped to prepare me for all of this!” he added.
Because he is a vegetarian, Scott says that many of his friends deem him “very LA”, which makes him laugh! However, he is still a Mountaineer at heart. He is quick to speak of his immense love for the state of West Virginia, and his constant endearing references to his parents confirm his profound love for his family. He still comes “home” to the Mountain State when he has the opportunity and keeps in contact with friends here via Facebook.
He says that it is difficult to project now exactly what might happen in his future, but he would still like to return to composing his own music a little more. So evidently that costly, ‘over-the-top’ purchase of his first keyboard was money well spent by his parents. Now 41 years old, Scott is still doing what he truly enjoys and has never held a non-music related job in his lifetime!