music reporter

Warren goes 'Gangster' as she ventures into new turf

Songwriter Diane Warren is known for her pop ballads, but she tried something different for Ridley Scott's "American Gangster": a vintage R&B song, "Do You Feel Me," performed by Anthony Hamilton.

"He's been under the radar even though he's sold so many albums," Warren says. "He's such a talent. It was fun to do something different."

The track, reminiscent of the classic soul of Otis Redding and Al Green, was a perfect fit for the film about a detective working to bring down a drug lord in 1970s Harlem.

Warren, a self-professed workaholic, had a busy year, also penning tunes and working with such acts as Natasha Bedingfield, JoJo, Kid Rock, Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz, RBD, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Daniel Powter, Jordin Sparks, Fantasia, Travis Tritt, Taylor Hicks, Meat Loaf, Clay Aiken, Aerosmith, Pet Shop Boys, Frankie J and Ashley Tisdale, among others.

She also is branching out. For the first time, Warren is developing new artists. While details are under wraps, she has been spending time in London working with one of them.

"It's a pretty cool thing because it's new for me," Warren says. "Obviously I love (writing) good songs for artists, but I love the fact that you can conceptualize something aside from that and also help them build from the ground up."

Word has it that she even will have a hand in developing the artists' image and business relationships. But that focus hasn't changed Warren's continuing success as a songwriter.

One of the few tunesmiths to own her own publishing company, Warren continues to do what she does best: write songs. "It's what I do," she says. "I'm trying to find balance between work and personal life. That's my New Year's resolution."

This year Warren, who has penned among nearly 100 songs that have been featured in motion pictures, moved the administration of her entire back catalog from EMI Music Publishing to Sony/ATV Music Publishing for all territories except North America, where she administers her own publishing rights through her company Real Songs.

Susan Butler contributed to this column.