GREG SIMS – BIOGRAPHY
Greg embarked upon a musical career path at an early age. “My fascination for music, especially symphonic recordings, goes back as far as I can remember. I started piano lessons at the age of five and never grew out of my love for music. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not know what career path to take.” In his early teens, Greg picked up the saxophone and was active in his high school band program, excelling in numerous county and state competitions.
His fascination with jazz began when he heard Bill Evans on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz radio show on NPR. This inspired him to complete a Bachelor of Music in Studio Music & Jazz, with a major in piano, at the University of Tennessee under the tutelage of Jerry Coker. “My thinking was that if I could learn to arrange, compose, and perform jazz, I would be ready for just about anything. Musically speaking, that is!”
Greg met his wife Annie, a singer/songwriter, while on a performing and arranging stint in the Caribbean, and soon after, they moved together to Orlando, Florida to continue their music careers in earnest. It wasn’t long before Greg met up with conductor Andrew Lane during a recording session for Madacy Entertainment. They became good friends, and the relationship led to scoring and co-producing symphonic arrangements for dozens of 101 Strings albums. During his time in Orlando, Greg served as arranger-in-residence for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and co-founded (with renowned bassist Chuck Archard) World Time Music, a scholastic jazz combo music series, which was signed for distribution by the Hal Leonard Corporation.
It wasn’t long before Greg plunged into composing and arranging music for advertising. First, he tried breaking into the jingle-writing business by contacting local advertising agencies. “I kept hearing, ‘We use Mike Redman’ from all the creative directors, so I decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Greg began working for Redman, who owned a prominent post house, collaborating with him on projects for Disney, Universal Studios, and Kennedy Space Center. The score for the film “Magic Moments” for the PGA Hall of Fame museum landed them a Silver Addy award. In 1992, Redman launched PowerHouse Music, a production music library, and Greg signed on as a staff writer. “This is where I really cut my teeth on how to sequence and produce contemporary instrumental commercial music. We produced quality tracks and had great worldwide distribution.” Eventually becoming a partner in the company, he and Redman founded MyMusicSource, Inc., an innovative online music licensing company, in 2006.
Greg began to pen orchestra arrangements for various Broadway singers including Orlando’s own Davis Gaines (leading role in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for ten years), Laurie Gayle Stephenson (The Secret Garden and Phantom of the Opera), Ted Keegan (Sweeney Todd), and Connie Kunkle (Les Miserables and Singin’ In The Rain). His arrangements have been performed by such notable conductors as Erich Kunzel and Doc Severinson.
Greg began his feature film composing career when he was approached by Jeffrey Varab, president of a local animation studio, which was staffed by former Disney animators. They were working on a movie titled Tugger: The Jeep Who Wanted To Fly starring Jim Belushi and Carrot Top. “I remember nervously walking into the first production meeting only to see Jeffrey discussing score ideas with someone else! My heart sank when I realized I was to be the orchestrator, not the composer. As time went on, though, the other composer never did the work. I would drop by the studio to turn in a cue mock-up, and the producer, Brian Crowder, would say, ‘You’d better keep writing more cues.’ It was stressful, to say the least, not knowing if the score I was composing would ever be used. One day I handed in a cue for a sad scene in the film that I was particularly proud of. Brian said, ‘It’s sad but there’s still hope. We want sad with no hope!’ So instead of getting all defensive, I went back to my studio and wrote what became my favorite cue in the film.” Greg produced his 45 minute score in Manila in the Philippines with Gerard Salonga conducting. Upon hearing the recording, director Varab declared “the score is the best thing about the film”.
In 2006, Greg and his wife “loaded up the truck and moved” to their home state of Tennessee with their three cats and high hopes of furthering their music careers in Nashville. “We really missed the mountains, and we found a place nearby that fit the bill just outside of Music City.” Greg developed a relationship with Parker Williams, the music director for the Oprah Winfrey Show, and began composing cues regularly for Harpo Productions and the popular daytime show. Williams was nominated for the 33rd annual Daytime Emmys that year in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition. “I remember how excited we [writers] were, waiting for our Emmys to roll in. That didn’t happen, but the royalty checks sure helped us survive through the transition time.”
After composing and producing over 100 tracks for Harpo, Greg decided to focus on his new career of composing for feature films. “After scoring Tugger, I was hooked. I felt that this is what I was meant to do. And coincidentally, the message of Tugger was to never lose sight of your dreams.” Greg soon got a call from Johan Sturm, the president of Animated Family Films, who had heard his score for Tugger. Greg accepted the job of composing, orchestrating and producing the score for The Lion Of Judah (AMG Films, Warner Home Video), a CGI animated film featuring the voice talents of Ernest Borgnine, Michael Madsen, Sandi Patty and Anupam Kher. Greg recorded the score for The Lion Of Judah in Prague with the City Of Prague Philharmonic and re-produced the songs for the film at MasterMind Studios in Nashville, going on to post in Johannesburg, South Africa. His epic score caught the attention of Mikael Carlsson, founder of the International Film Music Critics Association, who released it on CD through his soundtrack label, Movie Score Media. It was also honored as a Soundtrack Pick by Film Music Magazine.
In July 2014, Greg accepted the job of scoring iGod, a documentary written by best-selling author and personal friend Neale Donald Walsch (with Robert Friedman and Jonathan Friedman) to be released later in 2014. He also scored the classic 80’s style horror feature Scrape (directed by Derek Wayne Johnson). Upcoming features include A Trail Is Never Cold produced by Jena Waldron and based on the award-winning book, An African Tale, another CGI animated feature from AMG Entertainment, and The September Testament, a sci-fi thriller from director and special effects genius Gary Cole. Greg now lives with his wife and now four cats in Los Angeles, California.