A Jack of All Music

Bob Hartry ’89 dreamed of a career in music and took lessons, studied music theory and played in the jazz combo at Westmont. But he majored in economics and business, which has helped him establish and run Catbeach Music, an indie boutique publisher and record label.

The unusual name comes from a beach near his studio in Palos Verdes, Calif. It suits his music and his creative and
whimsical approach to composing. Bob’s work ranges from modern worship music to Americana to straight-up pop and ballads. “The variety keeps it interesting for me,” he says. He won a Daytime Emmy in 2012 for his song “Dust” (Outstanding Original Song for a Drama Series, “General Hospital”) and has received six nominations.

After he graduated, Bob worked for his father while establishing himself in the music business. He eventually became a full-time guitar player for recording sessions, which meant he took every gig he could. “I started to realize I enjoyed producing and writing as much as playing guitar,” he says. He produced some small projects before joining Vineyard Music to produce for them. His career took an abrupt turn in the mid-1990s when a singer he’d played with asked him to submit original songs to Disney ABC, where she was working. “I sat down with a friend and wrote five songs, and Disney liked all five,” he says. “Before that phone call, I’d never thought about composing for TV. The opportunity came at a great time when the music business was going through big changes. It provided a steady paycheck and allowed me to take on projects I was passionate about, such as worship records and starting the record label.”

TV producers give Bob a specific scene or story line, such as a couple struggling in their marriage, a new romance or the death of a character. “Writing for TV is interesting because the range is quite big,” Bob says. “I like the challenge to come up with a sound that fits the show and the script.” He has composed for “American Idol,” “Scandal,” “Revenge,” “20-20” and “Grey’s Anatomy” as well as game shows, soaps and comedies. He sings some of the songs himself.

Bob embraces the variety in his work: producing, playing, touring, TV and writing. He produces worship music—including records for Jeremy Riddle (“Full Attention” and “Furious”) and Samuel Lane (“The Fire”)—writes his own and plays live with Brenton Brown and worship teams. “I have a wonderful network of friends who are worship leaders,” he says. “Some of my favorite moments in the studio have been working on this music.”

Professor John Rapson exposed Bob to improvisation at Westmont. “He blew open my box of what music and creativity can be and helped be more adventurous,” Bob says. He met two good friends who also work in the music business: Paul Hovda ’88, a composer and piano player who has recorded several CDs; and Dan Strain ’87, who lives in Nashville and builds Danocaster electric guitars.

Bobs’ wife, Jen, works in the business, handles communications and the website, and manages Bob’s schedule and the artists on their label. “She frees me up to focus on creative writing and producing.”

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