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Kara DioGuardi & Jason Reeves (Holiday)

As a Grammy-nominated songwriter in the pop/rock vein, Kara DioGuardi worked with some of the industry's most marketable musicians during the '90s and 2000s. Born in 1970 to a set of extremely accomplished parents (her mother, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, co-founded the Albanian American Civic League, while father Joseph J. DioGuardi served in Congress during the 1980s), she grew up in the affluent community of New Rochelle, NY. DioGuardi discovered her vocal ability and began writing songs during her time at Duke University, and a subsequent job at Billboard magazine allowed her the chance to learn the machinations of the music business.

Kara DioGuardi's songwriting career officially launched with a series of collaborations with Paula Abdul in 1995. One of the resulting songs, "Spinning Around," was later given to Kylie Minogue, who used the tune to help rejuvenate her career. DioGuardi's work increased exponentially during the 2000s, during which time she co-wrote and/or produced such Top 40 singles as Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," Ashlee Simpson's "Pieces of Me," Hilary Duff's "Come Clean," the Pussycat Dolls' "Beep," Enrique Iglesias' "Escape," and Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man." She was also a member of Platinum Weird, a short-lived project with the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart that combined Fleetwood Mac-inspired songcraft with an elaborate (albeit fictional) back-story that dated the band back to the '70s. By 2008, over 165 of DioGuardi's songs had appeared on multi-platinum selling albums, and the Fox network tapped into her hitmaking potential by naming her the fourth judge on the 2009 season of American Idol. ~ Andrew Leahey
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