20 Reasons Why Atlanta is America’s Music Capital

We write music

Robert Spano
Honoree Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, at the 34th Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards in 2012

Photograph by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra doesn’t just perform great compositions, it writes them. Music director Robert Spano has championed the ASO’s School of Composers, commissioning more than half a dozen world premieres—which have won Grammys and helped earn the ASO top national honors for supporting contemporary music.

J Hart
J Hart

Photograph by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for SESAC

On the pop scene, the city’s creative culture has also inspired songwriters, from Shawn Mullins to India.Arie. Hot right now is James Abrahart—also known as J Hart. Camila Cabello sings, “Something’s Gotta Give” on her 2018 debut, but it was J Hart who penned most of the lyrics.

Born in London but raised in Alpharetta and Duluth, Hart interned for record producer Polow Da Don during college at SCAD and Georgia State University. During that time, Abrahart sat in on recording sessions for major artists like Fergie, Nelly, Usher, and Keri Hilson.

In 2013, he was signed by Artist Publishing Group and, as a songwriter, went on to write or cowrite songs for artists like Justin Bieber, Rita Ora, Keith Urban, Fifth Harmony, Charlie Puth, and Jason Derulo.

Hart always knew he wanted to be a singer but lacked the confidence. Now, after helping other artists express themselves, he’s ready. He’s putting together songs inspired by his psychotherapy sessions. The music—executive-produced by Greg Wells, who cowrote Urban’s “Wasted Time” with Hart—is expected to be released before the summer.

As Hart prepares to become the face of his lyrics for the first time, he’s relying on what he learned in Atlanta. “There is such a rich musical history and so much culture,” he says. The city “definitely shaped my musical tastes. I can’t imagine having moved to somewhere else in the States. I don’t even know if I’d be doing this.”