News 9 Speaks With OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder

Tuesday, November 20th 2012, 9:17 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma has a long, rich musical tradition. From Woody Guthrie to Garth Brooks to Carrie Underwood, our state has produced some of the most talented musicians in the nation.

Tulsa's Ryan Tedder follows in that proud tradition.

You may not be familiar with his name, but odds are, you've already been touched by his music.

Tedder will tell you that every successful artist has a breakthrough moment—a point in time when years of hard work and dreams collide, to produce a flash of brilliance.

For Tedder, the year was 2006. The song: "Apologize."

He wrote and produced the smash hit in his own bedroom.

"When it came out everyone kept saying this doesn't sound like anything, it's so new and so fresh," Tedder said. "It only sounded that singular and unique, because I was so limited on what I had access to: A little keyboard, an MPC drum machine."

"Apologize" set a record for the most plays in one week on American radio stations, only to be topped five months later by another song written and produced by none other than Ryan Tedder.

Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" hit the top of the charts in 35 countries, and Tedder was on his way to becoming one of the most sought after writers and producers in the world.

He's since written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Adele and - another Oklahoman - Carrie Underwood.

Meanwhile, his own band, OneRepublic, has produced a string of their own hits.

It's quite a ride for a guy who grew up in a Pentecostal family in south Tulsa, steeped in a love of music, and born with a searing ambition.

"I had this insatiable desire. I have to leave something. There has to be something that goes beyond me, you know?" Tedder said.

Almost from the start, it was clear that something would be music.

At Oral Roberts University, Tedder majored in public relations and advertising, but his dreams were about something else entirely.

"For all four years I was there, I'd go into the piano room and I'd tape up a piece of paper to black the window, and that's where I learned. That's where I taught myself songwriting," Tedder said.

It was also at ORU that Tedder's life hit a turning point.

In his junior year, he was asked to lead a music ministry to South Africa—a huge honor that ultimately, he couldn't accept.

"I thought, this is that moment where my life is going one of two ways, and I just didn't feel I was supposed to do that," Tedder said.

Instead, like many Okies before him, Tedder packed his bags for Nashville. He landed an internship at Dreamworks and then came his big break.

After beating out 600 contestants in an MTV talent search, he never looked back.

"In my mind, it was going to happen. There wasn't a plan B," Tedder said.

Tedder won his first Grammy award this year for writing and producing two songs on Adele's massively successful album, "21."

One of those songs, "Rumor Has It" came together in a single afternoon.

"I started playing and she immediately started singing the first line, 'She, she ain't real. She won't love you like I will,' and we just kind of traded lines," Tedder said.

The song has already sold more than a million copies in the U.S. alone, but these days, Tedder's focus is closer to home.

OneRepublic is getting ready to put out its third album.

Related Story: OneRepublic Releases New Single "Feel Again"

Tedder said he believes this is a turning point for the band, and he is pouring every ounce of his creativity into making it a success.

There is no plan B.

"I've kind of lived my whole life that way," Tedder said. "Say it's going to happen, tell people you're going to do it, don't talk about it unless it's going to happen and it will happen."

OneRepublic's new album, Native, is scheduled for release later this month. The first single from that album, "Feel Again," is now available on iTunes.

All the money from the first 800,000 downloads will be donated to Save the Children, the world's largest child relief organization.

We'll have Ryan's complete interview on this year's edition of "Oklahomans," coming up in December.