Published: Saturday, May 20, 2006
YSU graduate writes hit
The New Castle native has built a reputation as a songwriter.
By SARAH POULTON
Emanuel Kiriakou, a New Castle, Pa., native and 1989 graduate of Youngstown State University, wrote and produced pop star Nick Lachey's current single "What's Left of Me."
The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and record producer began his career early, playing in his father's Greek band at age 13. Kiriakou's passion has always been music, and he was introduced to the piano and guitar when he was 6.
Lachey's single is Kiriakou's biggest hit, reaching the top five on the Billboard music charts, Kiriakou said.
After graduating from YSU with a degree in music, Kiriakou, who goes by "Eman," moved to Minneapolis, where he wrote and played music for Lifescapes Music. While in Minnesota, he also wrote jingles and taught at a music school.
Kiriakou became one of the premier session guitarists in the Midwest, making more than 20 instrumental records with Lifescapes with gross sales of more than 2 million units.
After six years, Kiriakou left Minneapolis for New York City, where he met former New Kids on the Block band member Joey McIntyre. Kiriakou produced three albums for McIntyre and also accompanied him on tour.
Kiriakou returned to his Greek roots in 2002, writing the music for the motion picture, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Kiriakou has also written songs featured in the films "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999), "The Skulls" (2000) and "Heartbreakers" (2001).
In 2003, Kiriakou released his solo album, "Favorite Enemy," and started to gain popularity among label representatives. The independently released album is what Kiriakou contends led to his success.
"It takes years to get a good reputation," Kiriakou said. "I was recommended to Nick [Lachey] by his label representative and also by a fellow writer."
When it comes to finding the right songwriter and producer for an artist, many check the Billboard chart or go by word-of-mouth and reputation, Kiriakou said.
Kiriakou has worked with other artists such as Gladys Knight, Clay Aiken and Chaka Kahn. For Kenny G's album "At Last... The Duets Album," Kiriakou recorded, engineered, programmed, wrote and even played guitar during one song.
Kiriakou just finished working with J.C. Chasez, formerly of *NSync. He wrote and produced one song on Chasez's newest album.
He is currently working with artists such as Jesse McCartney and the Backstreet Boys on songs from the pop/rock genre, Kiriakou said. Although making an independent record was an accomplishment, Kiriakou prefers the behind-the-scenes aspect of music.
"I just want to keep writing and producing records," Kiriakou said. "It gets easier once you get a hit."