Stephen Bray has pretty much done it all, musically speaking. The Grammy and Tony-nominated songwriter, producer, musician and composer first gained notoriety back in the '80s when his groundbreaking work with Madonna helped launch her career and establish a sound that would be emulated by artists and producers for years to come. Working together, the duo wrote and produced some of Madonna’s biggest hits, including “Into the Groove,” “Papa Don't Preach,” “True Blue” and “Express Yourself,” just to name a few. Over the years, he's worked with other major artists like Kylie Minogue, Gladys Knight, The Jets, Siedah Garrett, Debra Harry, E. G. Daily and Breakfast Club. As a songwriter and producer, Stephen has received Gold, Platinum and Diamond awards representing sales of over 100 million records.
More recently, Stephen has found success in musical theatre as a composer-lyricist for the Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple, for which he was nominated for the Tony for Best Score in 2005. Re-imagined by director John Doyle, The Color Purple is currently enjoying a sold out run in London at The Menier Chocolate Factory.
Check out! He answers questions about Madonna for Ascap.com...
Being a massive Madonna fan myself, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you at least one question about your fellow ASCAP member and Queen of Pop.
(Laughs) "I said The Color Purple was maybe my favorite experience, but I could just as easily say that those early days – those ten years of working with Madonna – were some of the happiest musical times of my life because I was fortunate enough to have a partner where we finished each other’s musical sentences, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten along quite as well with any other collaborator in terms of writing."
So are there a lot of unreleased recordings from your days working and writing with her that the public has yet to hear?
"There are a couple of note that I can think of: There’s a theme song that we were writing to Desperately Seeking Susan, and I have not heard that particular piece of music other than in the pile of cassettes that I have somewhere. Then I think we have a really cool song “First There’s a Kiss” that never saw the light of day."
And do you think that they’ll ever see the light of day, or maybe get an official release?
"I hope so!"