Makeba Riddick owes P. Diddy a debt of gratitude. Not only is the multi- talented songwriter signed to a worldwide publishing deal with Bad Boy/EMI Music Publishing but it was the impresario's skepticism about her skills that motivated her to show him and the rest of us just how gifted she really is. Reared and nurtured by a loving and supportive grandmother, Makeba emerged from the less-than-glamorous streets of Baltimore, MD and found herself singing for family and friends even before she could utter an intelligible sentence. Seeing not only her talent but also her passion for music, Makeba's grandmother wasted no time signing the young artist up for voice and piano lessons.

The investment paid off. Makeba went on to attend high school at the Baltimore School of Performing Arts and graduated from Berklee College of Music at the age of 19 with a major in Business Music Management and a minor in songwriting.

After graduation, Makeba headed to New York where she took a position as an intern at Columbia Records. The experience was valuable but not totally fulfilling because even though Makeba was working in the music business, she wasn't making music. It wasn't long before she found a way to scratch that relentless itch for music by doing session work as a background singer. It was during one of those sessions that she met a songwriter named Curtis Richardson, who was so impressed by her lyrical chops that he suggested she pursue a career as a songwriter. He took the eager Makeba under his wing and eventually invited her to co-write with him. "I started doing a lot of demos and started experimenting with a lot of different styles and sounds," she says. "Finally my music got to the president of Bad Boy Publishing, Francesca Spero, and she played it for Puff and one of his producers, Jack Knight. Jack liked me but Puff didn't get it right away. He said my music at the time wasn't anything that blew him away." But that didn't deter the then 22-year-old dynamo. "I kept writing with different producers and I landed a placement on Jennifer Lopez's 'This is Me…Then' album." The song, "All I Have," featuring L.L Cool J, went on to claim the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained number one for five straight weeks. After that, Diddy was singing a different tune: He gladly signed her to a publishing deal.

But that was just the beginning of Makeba's success story. She would go on to write for superstars like Janet Jackson, Fantasia, Toni Braxton, Rihanna, Beyonce, and Jessica Simpson and collaborate with notable producers like Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland Swizz Beats and Norwegian hit makers Stargate. "I sort of forged a name for myself," she notes. "Even though I was signed to Puff, I wrote with other artists outside of Bad Boy just to show him that he was going to get a return on his investment."

And what a return. Managed by industry powerhouse company Roc Nation, helmed by Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and his two childhood friends Jay Brown and Tyran (TyTy) Smith, Makeba's work continued to catch the attention of many of today's hottest musical talents. Her list of credits reads like a slate of top entries on a Billboard Magazine chart: "Déjà Vu" and "Upgrade U" for Beyonce; "So Lonely" for Mariah Carey; "Hold You Down" for Jennifer Lopez; and "If It's Loving You Want" for Rihanna. Other artists who have benefited from her magic pen include B2K, Cassie, Letoya Luckett, Teairra Mari, Twista, Danity Kane, Avant, and Cassidy.

For each artist, Makeba says she tries to create musical gems based on their unique flavor and style but she never fails to sprinkle a little of her own seasoning in the mix as well. "I do have a signature," she says. "I'm a very rhythmic person so my melodies are very bouncy and rhythmic. I'm very melodic as well." Her style, she says is the offspring of her own raw talent and her formal training. It is that signature sound that has opened doors for the little girl from Baltimore and made her one of the industry's hottest, most in-demand songwriters.

Makeba is elated over her success -- even though she sometimes feels she got here by accident. "I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do once I finished college," she says, "but I knew it was going to be something in music." Songwriting, she says, just came naturally. "I enjoy telling a story through song and I've been doing it ever since I was a little girl." Makeba continues to tell stories not only as a songwriter but also as a screenwriter and as the creator of SMASHKIDS! Inc, her newly developed music- based Animation Company.

In everything she does, Makeba Riddick indulges her passion for the written word, knowing the powerful emotions they can inspire. "Even though I have formal training, I rely on my raw, natural instincts," she lends. "I don't believe that you can teach anybody to write a song. It's really like an emotional vibe, even sort of a spiritual thing. It's a zone that you, as an individual get into. You tap into that; you channel whatever that creative force is and it is very personal but at the same time, it's not. Most of the songs that I write are from my personal experiences but every artist can relate to them and other people can relate to them."

So Diddy got it wrong. However, like the rest of us, he has seen Makeba's light and she says she plans to spread it everywhere. "I want to inspire the youth and leave a legacy to show the future generations that nothing shall be impossible to those who believe."


T.I. Feat. Rihanna "Live Your Life"

Beyonce "Ave Maria" "Deja vu" "Upgrade U" "Get Me Bodied" "Suga Mama" "Freakum Dress"

Mariah Carey "So Lonely (One & Only part II)"

Rihanna "Say It" "Push Up" "Sell Me Candy" Vocal Production: "Question Existing" Vocal Production: "Disturbia"

Jessica Simpson "I Don�t Wanna Care"

Fantasia "Surround You"

Jennifer Lopez "Hold You Down" "Hold You Down" feat. Fat Joe (Part II) "All I Have"

Solange "Would've Been The One" "Ode To Marvin"

Rihanna "We Ride" Vocal Production: "Unfaithful"

Michelle Williams "Stop This Car"

Danity Kane "Touching My Body" "Stay With Me"

Avant "Mr. Dream"

Rihanna "If It's Lovin' That You Want" "Let Me"

3LW "Ghetto Love & Heartbreak" "Party On"

Jojo "Let It Rain"

Taylor Hicks "Heaven Knows"

Katherine Mcphee "Do What You Do"

Cassie "Can't Do It Without You"

Cassidy "Take A Trip"

B2K "Sprung" "Out of Da Hood" "You Can Get It"

Cheetah Girls "Do No Wrong"

Brooke Hogan "Next Time"

Corey Lee "You Wish"

Girlicious "Baby Doll"

Toni Braxton "Please"

Letoya "Good"

Teairra Mari "MVP"

Twista Feat. Mariah "So Lonely"

Bayje "Impossible"

Marcos Hernandez "Bitter Sweet And Sour" "Personal" "Lovely Girl"

O'Ryan "Anything" "Take It Slow"

Frankee "I Do Me" "Gotta Man" "I'm In Love With Me" "How You Do" "Who The Hell R U"

Anisha Nicole "Baby C'Mon" "Shoulda Known Better" "Don't Talk 2 Me" "Hang It Up"