“Say My Name”

“Say My Name”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Rodney Jerkins
“Say My Name”

Written by Rodney Jerkins, Beyoncé Knowles, LaTavia M. Roberson, LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins, LeToya Luckett, Kelendria Rowland
Recorded by Destiny’s Child

This takes me back to the end of 1998 when I got called to go to London to work with the Spice Girls. While I was there, I had a chance to go out and hear different music. The big sound there at that time was Two Step Beats. I’m a person who likes new sounds and I wanted to be the first one to bring this one to America.

Me, my brother Fred, LaShawn Daniels and the girls wrote this song called “Say My Name.” I wrote the track in 144 bpm (beats per minute), which is very fast for radio, compared to all the other songs out there. The two step is a fast beat and that’s what I was trying to accomplish. However, this was probably the worst track I ever wrote.

After listening to it enough, I decided I liked the song, and the idea of a new sound, enough to bring it to Destiny’s Child, whom I was working with at the time. They said, “What is this?!” I told them that we’d be the first to bring this sound and that I guaranteed it would be a hit. Somehow I convinced them to record it despite their misgivings.

After it was recorded, none of us really liked it. In my heart of hearts, I knew I screwed up the track. Matthew Knowles, Destiny’s Child’s manager, called to tell me that he didn’t know if the song would make it onto the album. He said that it was totally different than the rest of the album.

They wanted to mix the album, so I was in a studio in California. I told Jean-Marie Horvat, a mix engineer on the song, to pull down all the instruments and to leave the vocals up. I approached it as if I were doing a re-mix. I began to do the track completely over. I slowed it down by one half to 72 bpm so that it had a whole different feel and sound. Now I felt confident that it was a smash! You can’t have an ego about your work. If I had, the song wouldn’t have even made the album. It’s not just about the track, it’s about the song. Because it was a great song, I was able to write a great track.

Destiny’s Child’s first single, “Bills, Bills, Bills” was a big hit. The second single, “Bug A Boo,” didn’t really make it. I spoke with Don Ienner, Tommy Mottola and Matthew Knowles who all agreed that the album had already sold almost 3 million units on the first two singles and there was no reason to release a third single. Finally, I was able to persuade them to release it and it went to #1, where it stayed for nine weeks. I won my first Grammy for this song and it is still one of my most played hits.

When I speak on panels, I tell producers and songwriters, “Never give up if you believe in a song.”

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