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For Adam Messinger and Nasri Atweh, success has come from having the right songs at the right time.
Within a month of relocating to Los Angeles from Toronto in 2007, the songwriting-producing duo known as the Messengers had met singer-actor Donnie Wahlberg, then searching for songs for a New Kids on the Block record. Atweh, who once performed as a solo artist, wound up co-writing four songs while he and Messinger co-wrote another. It proved to be the group’s comeback album.
A few months later, Atweh and Messinger provided songs to a Michael Bolton album. The Canadians’ contributions were praised for adding a seductive, calm air to what critics called Bolton’s most confident release in years.
Their success is also about being in the right place at the right time—like when Atweh bumped into r&b star Chris Brown at a Los Angeles gym. Recalls Atweh: “After playing basketball, I told him ‘I’m a songwriter and I think I could kill it for you.’ He gave me an email address and I sent him a song we’d done. He goes ‘I want this.’ That really got the ball rolling for us.”
Good fortune next struck when Atweh spotted Justin Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun in a hotel lobby. “Nasri just went for it and introduced himself,” recalls Messinger. “They were open to hearing material and not long after, Scooter got back to us saying that our compositions were Justin’s favorites.” Those songs, including “Pray,” appeared on Bieber’s My Worlds Acoustic (the Messengers contributed to other Bieber recordings and earned the SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for his holiday hit “Mistletoe”).
Little did they know, but Atweh and Messinger’s next project also wound up featuring Bieber and became their biggest success: “Next to You,” a duet between Bieber and Brown. Featured on Brown’s F.A.M.E. album, it won the Messengers their first Grammy Award.
The Messengers are now one of pop’s hottest properties. Admits Atweh: “Our track record, in such a short time, has been insane.” Messinger, a graduate of York University’s jazz program, thinks their partnership has just the right balance: “I’m the guy who knows harmony and arrangements, but Nasri’s more the free spirit who pulls ideas and inspiration out of the sky.”
- Nasri is now fronting the all-Canadian, L.A.-based rock band Magic, produced by Messinger.
- Other Canadian artists the Messengers have worked with include Ivana Santilli, Eva Avila and Chantal Kreviazuk.
- The Messengers expect to work with legendary Canadian producer David Foster, who summoned them to his office after hearing of their success.
Words and Music, Winter 2013