For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of Ridley alumnus, Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94, who fell in love with music on campus and turned his passion into an award-winning career – producing music for Sony/ATV and many major artists.
Tawgs’ Ridley career began in 1989 and continued until 1992. During his three years, Tawgs would often find himself in the music studios, practicing on any instrument he could get his hands on. The more time he spent there, the more he fell in love with music. A Ridley faculty member encouraged Tawgs to join the orchestra, where he would have the opportunity to collaborate with fellow musicians on campus. While the time he spent honing his musical abilities left an impact on Tawgs, it was the facilities and programmes that he had access to through Ridley that put him on the right path, leading to where he is now.
Tawgs’ passion for music and the chance to succeed was solidified after a school talent show, when we received praise that made him feel he was where he belonged. Then Headmaster, Douglas Campbell, approached Tawgs the following day and congratulated him on his performance.
“It was the first time the Headmaster spoke to me in a positive way like that. That really propelled me. That was what I needed to go forward. Especially as a child, when there is someone in an authoritative position who says that, you think ‘maybe I should do [a career in music]’.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94
When Tawgs finished high school, he spent some time pursuing other interests, but he always came back to music. At the time, he was performing in an original band named Dunk, who was then signed by Sony Music Canada. After signing he decided it was time to get serious with his passion. While he enjoyed performing, it was producing and writing that he loved most.
He began writing music and eventually, Gary Furniss, President of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada, took notice of Tawgs’ talent. He began songwriting for the publishing company and took a second position at Sony Music Canada as a Staff Producer. While he had little free time working two jobs, his exposure to an array of artists, professionals and opportunities was extensive. After he got his feet wet, he decided to work solely with Sony/ATV, under the mentorship of Gary Furniss. Gary fostered Tawgs’ career from the beginning and helped him move up through the ranks to a point where he was working with high-profile artists, including Lights and Josh Groban.
“The first song I wrote that received international praise with a big artist was ‘You are Loved’ by Josh Groban. I made the demo in my basement in St. Catharines 10 years ago,” says Tawgs. His song was picked up and he found himself at Abbey Road Studios, working with Groban and his producer.
Tawgs has been in the business for 18 years now and has experienced great success during his career. He has received an ASCAP award, was nominated twice for producer of the year at the JUNO Awards and has won awards for nine of his hit songs. Beyond his personal accomplishments, he has worked on a number of records that won pop album of the year and worked on the JUNO winning song, ‘Young Artists for Haiti’.
While winning awards and working with some of the biggest names in music are certainly perks, Tawgs says his favourite part of the job is the job itself.
“When you are a song writer or a producer you start with a total blank page in the morning. Your success for that day is dependent on what you are going to do in the next ten minutes. The best part of the day as a song writer is when you sit down to write a song with another collaborator. You’ve got fifteen minutes of awkwardness and then thirty minutes of inspiration. It is that inspiration that I wait for, and why I find my work so enjoyable.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94
To Ridleians who know what their passions are but are unsure of how to get there, Tawgs says this:
“It’s not easy. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t wake up today and think – can I do it again today? That’s what you have to go through as an artist, telling yourself to not give up. You really have to want it and you have to silence the inner voice that tells you that you may not be able to do it.”
“You can’t rest on what you have done before, what you did last month, or five years ago. You really have to every day try and create something new that is going to help you out down the road.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94
TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.
Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to firstname.lastname@example.org.