Every year since 1987, as the winning team of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship begins to celebrate, a familiar tune starts to play, David Barrett’s “One Shining Moment.”
The song – which Barrett wrote in about 20 minutes – has become linked to the basketball tournament since it first played on the airwaves all those years ago.
“I knew I had something special,” said Barrett, who graduated from Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills. “But I had no idea that it would play for over 30 years on primetime TV.”
Barrett knew a little bit about basketball from playing at Andover, but there was one chance meeting that inspired the idea. He had been talking to a waitress about the poetry of basketball and jotted down on a napkin the title. The next day he wrote it and then tucked it in his sock drawer for a few months before playing it for a friend who insisted he record it.
From there, he contacted his friend, Armen Keteyian, who graduated from Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills and was at the time working for Sports Illustrated. Then, unbeknownst to Barrett, Keteyian took it over to CBS.
“And here we are talking 33 years later,” Barrett laughed.
That one song opened up many opportunities for Barrett, who has been writing music his entire life. Fortunately, Barrett had a whole desk full of songs and compositions at the ready when all those doors opened.
Since “One Shining Moment,” he’s composed pieces for the Olympics, U.S. Open Tennis Championship, won an Emmy for scoring a PBS documentary on the writer C.S. Lewis, won a silver medal at the New York Film Festival for a hip-hop song in “Don’t Cross that Line,” and toured with Art Garfunkel. Oh, and he just co-wrote a song with the man who wrote, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
“I have sort of this musical water faucet that just goes,” he said. “For one reason or another that faucet seems to run pretty strong and true. It still does."
Right now, he’s working on pieces for the NCAA, a piece for CBS, scoring a film on the state of Michigan, and writing songs. He also hopes to score some indie films in the near future.
Luckily, Barrett said he never really gets writer’s block, and he has more ideas than time to write them.
“I would say there’s a lot out there worth talking about, and for one reason or another, part of my job description is to keep my eyes open,” Barrett said.
He also loves it all – composing, songwriting, and performing. He doesn’t prefer one over the other – he’s just grateful people ask him to do it.
Barrett is also asked to speak at master classes and workshops all over the country. His advice for those hoping to break into the music business?
“The one thing I try to encourage people is to find your own voice in this grand enterprise called music,” he said.
And to write a song that you would want to hear again. For example, he just rediscovered a song he wrote 25 years ago, and it still sounded good. Plus, there’s “One Shining Moment,” which he still enjoys.
“So, write songs that you would like to hear again,” he laughed. “It’s that simple and very difficult.”
When asked why he decided to pursue music professionally Barrett started to laugh.
“I never thought of doing otherwise,” Barrett said.
Sometimes, it’s just that simple.