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Pop Songwriter Justin Tranter Lays Track for Local Talent


Even if your radio is perpetually tuned to WFMT (our excellent sister station), you’ve likely heard the music of Gwen Stefani, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. But do you know the man behind some of these artists’ biggest hits?

And do you know he went to high school in Chicago?

Songwriter Justin Tranter has won numerous awards for his work, collaborated with pop stars, and even opened for Lady Gaga. He’s now in town to celebrate the opening of a brand new recording studio at his alma mater, The Chicago Academy for the Arts, where he discovered his talent for writing music.

“I could be who I wanted to be emotionally at the school,” said Tranter, a Chicago-area native. “Everyone from students to the teachers supported me there.”

The new studio is funded by Tranter’s donation to the school, and features a three-room recording and production facility.

The school will also host its annual AIDS Benefit on Sept. 21, an event Tranter started 22 years ago. The benefit takes on the form of a student-run variety show and helps raise awareness around HIV/AIDS.

  • The Chicago Academy for the Arts AIDS Benefit (Credit: Thomas Mohr Photography)

    The Chicago Academy for the Arts AIDS Benefit (Credit: Thomas Mohr Photography)

  • The Chicago Academy for the Arts AIDS Benefit (Credit: Thomas Mohr Photography)

    The Chicago Academy for the Arts AIDS Benefit (Credit: Thomas Mohr Photography)

  • New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

    New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

  • New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

    New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

  • New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

    New studio (Courtesy of The Chicago Academy for the Arts)

Below, some of the songs Tranter has co-written:

Gwen Stefani’s “Used To Love You”

Justin Bieber’s “Friends”

Imagine Dragons’ “Believer”

Julia Michaels’ “Issues”

Tranter joins us in conversation.


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