Alumna Wins NBC Show ‘Songland’

Tebby Burrows sings the final version of her song "We Need Love" for the "Songland" judges and John Legend. Photo courtesy of Trae Patton/NBCWhen alumna Tebby Burrows ’11 submitted one of the songs she’d written to NBC’s new show “Songland,” she had no clue she’d be singing it in front of John Legend a few months later.

Nor did she know Legend would record the song, or that it would climb to the top 10 of the iTunes chart this summer.

“We had no idea who we were submitting our songs for, so it was pretty cool to walk in and see him,” said Burrows, who is a fan of Legend’s.

At PBA, Burrows was communication major and a business administration minor. That education prepared her to “think of things not just from a creative standpoint but from a business standpoint as well.” After graduation, she went to work for a venture capital firm in New York. Now she works in marketing and advertising for a creative agency in Los Angeles.

She started releasing a lot of her own music over the last two and a half years but had a few songs she hadn’t released yet, she said. She won the first episode of Songland with “We Need Love.”

On the show, four up-and-coming songwriters pitch their compositions to a different well-known recording artist. The artist selects three contestants to collaborate with three Grammy Award-nominated and winning producers and then chooses one song to record. The musician’s single debuts at the end of each episode. Photo 2: Tebby Burrows, center, poses for a photo with three-time Grammy Award-winning producer Shane McAnally, left, and musician John Legend, right, on the set of "Songland." Legend chose Burrows' song "We Need Love" to record and release. Photo courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC

Burrows was paired with Shane McAnally, a three-time Grammy Award-winning country songwriter and record producer. Burrows, who was born in Miami and grew up in the Bahamas, said their styles jibed because she writes her songs with an acoustic guitar and appreciates country music. (She learned to play when she was 12.)

“I love country music because country music is about telling stories, and I consider myself a storyteller,” she said.

McAnally and Legend wanted Burrows to dial back the song’s island sound before she sang it again at the end of the show. Burrows first heard Legend’s version of her song May 28, the night the episode aired.

“I wanted to be surprised, so I waited to hear it with everyone else,” she said. “To hear it finally was really, really great.”

Her “Songland” appearance has led to more conversations and writing sessions with more producers and songwriters, she said. For her, songwriting is about spreading love and uplifting the human spirit.

“I’ve always been deeply rooted spiritually,” Burrows said. “All stories are important. Music that touches on universal concepts is really important because it connects us all.”

Photo 1: Tebby Burrows sings the final version of her song for the "Songland" judges and John Legend. Photo courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC

Photo 2: Tebby Burrows, center, poses for a photo with three-time Grammy Award-winning producer Shane McAnally, left, and musician John Legend, right, on the set of "Songland." Legend chose Burrows' song "We Need Love" to record and release. Photo courtesy of Trae Patton/NBC