Chris Sampson, University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music

Chris Sampson has enjoyed a diverse career in music as an educator, songwriter, performer, producer, arts administrator and author. In 2009, Sampson founded the Popular Music degree program at the USC Thornton School of Music which is considered to be the first of its kind at a major university.

As an associate professor of songwriting, Chris’s students have penned #1 hit songs, won GRAMMY awards, won national songwriting competitions, signed major recording and publishing contracts, toured nationally and internationally, and have placed numerous songs in television and film. He serves as the songwriting instructor for the GRAMMY Foundation education programs and is a national adjudicator in songwriting for YoungArts. Chris is a Lifetime Voting Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Chris regularly gives masterclasses and clinics on songwriting and careers in music including at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, UK), Interlochen Arts Academy, Colorado University Denver, and the Make Music Miami Festival, to name a few. He is the author of numerous articles on songwriting and songwriting pedagogy as well as the author of Careers Through Music: Building Employable Skills in Your Music Class published by Alfred Publishing in partnership with the GRAMMY Museum. He has interviewed over 400 music professionals including some of the most iconic names in the industry such as Irving Azoff, John Mayer, Smokey Robinson, Sir Elton John, Sting, Chaka Khan, Linda Perry, Graham Nash, Jody Gerson, and Dan Wilson among many others. Chris was the producer and host of Joy Sounds: Music You Need to Know, a weekly podcast that enjoyed a two and half year run that showcased talented emerging and breaking artists. Chris is the recipient of the 2017 USC Provosts Mentoring Award and the 2019 Ramo Faculty Award at USC Thornton.

As an administrator, Chris has served as Vice Dean for the Division of Contemporary Music at USC Thornton and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music among numerous other appointments. Chris is a member of BMI, and serves on the Advisory Board for the Orange County High School and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.


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