Currently, the 41-year-old St. Catharines, Ont. native has a full plate writing for Seal, Skylar Grey, Ne-Yo and Katharine McPhee. He may also do something with Jennifer Lopez, who called and invited him to her house, if there’s time. (Lopez and her fellow judges on TV’s American Idol, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., all love “Wrecking Ball”). And discussions are underway with several other major international artists.

Moccio is no stranger to success. While attending the University of Western Ontario, he attended a Céline Dion concert, introduced himself to her manager René Angélil, and asked to meet Dion. Backstage, he boldly told the singer that he planned to write her a hit song. Exactly a decade later, after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in composition and piano performance, and signing a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Moccio – together with Aldo Nova – co-wrote Dion’s “A New Day Has Come,” a record-breaking hit in 2002 that topped the Hot AC charts for 21 weeks and was the title song of both her album and Las Vegas residency show.

With Marc Jordan, Moccio wrote “Tears of Hercules,” which appeared on Jordan’s 2004 album, Make Believe Ballroom. “That was a melody that just came to me, and then Marc crafted this amazing lyric that had so much depth,” he recalls. “It’s a story of a stoic man who doesn’t know how to cry.” Producer David Foster heard the song and promptly introduced it to singer Josh Groban, who recorded it as “My Heart was Home Again” on his limited edition album With You.

“It’s the songwriter’s job to get emotional over things.”

Like the vision he had for writing a hit for Dion, Moccio knew that one day he would write an Olympic theme – just like Foster had done for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He and former Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew teamed up and wrote “I Believe.” Sung by Montreal jazz/R&B/pop singer Nikki Yanofsky, the song became the official theme of the 2010 Winter Games and hit number one on iTunes Canada and Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100.

Other artists whom Moccio has written or co-written songs for include Olivia Newton-John, John Legend, Sarah Brightman, Randy Bachman, Gladys Knight, Edwin, Hayley Westenra, RyanDan, Chantal Kreviazuk and Kardinal Offishall.

Among Moccio’s trademarks are the soaring melodies and the almost palpable emotions that his songs convey. It’s a quality he continues to embrace in his work. “I’m a passionate guy who wears it on his sleeve,” he confesses. “I don’t hold back. I cry. I feel things deeply. People in the music business sometimes say ‘Don’t get too emotional over it.’ But it’s the songwriter’s job to get emotional over things. If we didn’t, we couldn’t write the songs that we do.”

That trademark is all over the three albums of original music that Moccio has released on his own Bijou Records label. It’s there in the numerous TV themes he’s penned and will serve him well as he breaks into the world of Hollywood film. “Film scoring is really where I want to be,” says Moccio, who in 2012 served with Martin Short and Measha Brueggergosman as a judge on TV’s Canada’s Got Talent. “That’s one of the big reasons I’m in Los Angeles.”

A whole set of new of possibilities has opened up as a result of “Wrecking Ball.” And the significance is not lost on Moccio, who says, “That song is one that will be around for a long time and I’m just blessed to be part of it.” He adds, ever mindful of his immense good fortune: “Had I not taken that flight back to L.A. for that writing session, my life simply wouldn’t be the same.”

Sing Little Penguin/Universal Music Publishing
Selected discography:
Exposure  (2006), Color (2010), Elements (2012)
SOCAN member since 1995

I’m Leaving You is a personal victory,” Florence K summed up after describing how the creation of her sixth album had helped her weather one of the worst storms in her life. Strong and radiant, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter, who hours earlier had hosted the latest installment of her Ici Florence show on Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique, announced that she was now ready to open a new chapter in her career.

Florence K’s most recent collection of luminous songs betray the dark moments she was living through as she was creating them in the wake of a painful breakup with her daughter Alice’s father two years ago. Despite lingering doubts about her ability to regain her self-confidence, I’m Leaving You, her chosen therapy, has been her most successful achievement so far.

The new album covers an extensive emotional palette in songs like “Remember Me,” a gut-wrenching, yet pretty ballad reminiscent of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” or like “Don’t Come Around Here Anymore” or “You’re Breaking My Heart (Mi Droga).” But there not an ounce of self-pity in sight, and Florence K made sure of that. “We’re not dealing with Hole’s Live Through This here! I love that album, but I was not trying to come up with my own tale of woes,” she warns.

“The songs on this last recording are telling my story. They’re about me, and I can live with that.”

Instead, I’m Leaving You was written and recorded in what can only be described as a blissful creative state in Los Angeles with Larry Klein, Joni Mitchell’s ex-husband, who has produced recordings for the likes of Melody Gardot, Herbie Hancock and Tracy Chapman. The album’s 10 selections also include musical contributions from David Batteau and David Baerwald, and were mixed by Tchad Blake, “the guy who mixed the Black Keys’ El Camino,” Florence K enthuses. “I can’t believe my luck!”

Her whole California experience was “magical,” Florence K marvels as she reaches out to her iPhone to sample some of the demos she recorded at the time.

With the help of Larry Klein, Florence K worked on expanding her musical colours by adding more pop- or soul-sounding tones to the Latin sounds of her earlier Bossa Blue or La Historia de Lola albums, while at the same time adding new depth to her compositions. This was far from being a radical departure, the musician explains, but a carefully planned new development: “We tried every possible way of mixing Latin, jazz and pop roots. I have a good knowledge of Caribbean music, and Larry introduced me to the East L.A. style, and one of the album’s cut, “You’re Breaking My Heart,” clearly has a Mexican sound.”

For the first time, Florence K also allowed herself to draw inspiration from her own experiences for her lyrics. Her Bossa Blue album, she admits, was based on events involving people she knew rather than herself. “I was only 21 at the time. That couldn’t have been me. I was appropriating stuff,” she giggles. This time, however, the stories came from her true life, with just the right amount of poetic licence. “The songs on this last recording are telling my story,” she says. “They’re about me, and I can live with that. It’s nice to be able to step back a little and get some perspective.”

The new release’s promotional tour was underway with a Montreal concert at the end of February, and others planned for France, English-speaking Canada and, more importantly, the U.S., where dates had already been set in a few small venues or events attended by music industry professionals. The new Florence K is poised to conquer the world, but just one step at a time. “Things are moving,” she says, “my pawns are in the right positions. When I was working on this album, I was not thinking of the places I would be playing those songs. It never occurred to me. But it’s interesting to see how all this is panning out now, where it’s all going.”

A 2014 JUNO nominee in the Breakthrough Artist of the Year category, Florence K is ready for the big time, and if this means playing small U.S. and European venues for some time yet, she’s willing to pay the price. With an attitude like that, who’s going to stop her now?

Who said you have to get on a plane to experience the culture, food, and sounds of South America? If you’re a Vancouver resident and have an insatiable appetite for unique experiences, the city’s “Best Latin American Restaurant,” Baru Latino Restaurante, will be right up your alley.

Together with its award-winning food menu, music is at the top of Baru Latino’s ingredient list, providing an exceptional soundtrack for each customer experience. “Music creates the ambiance to complete the overall experience that we want to deliver to our customers,” says co-owner Rene Lafleur.

Satisfying appetites since 2009, the hip South American tapas-style restaurant is situated on Vancouver’s west side and owned by longtime Vancouver residents Lafleur and David Newis.

Using only sustainable and locally-grown ingredients, it only makes sense for Baru Latino to show the same commitment to Canada’s music community, by displaying SOCAN’s Licensed to Play sticker on their front door for each customer to see. “The sticker allows our customers to recognize our partnership with SOCAN and to understand that we use music responsibly,” says Lafleur.

“For too long, we’ve seen our music consumers and our creators as two separate entities,” says Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s Vice President of Licensing. “Both need each other, and the Licensed to Play program – especially the window sticker – is a fun way to display that mutual admiration. By displaying the Licensed to Play sticker proudly, businesses affirm that they are putting music to work ethically and legally.”

Baru has a number of awards to boast about, including the annual Georgia Straight Golden Plate Award for “Best Latin American Restaurant,” which they earned in 2013. When asked if music is an essential aspect of Baru Latino’s customer experience, Lafleur says, “Absolutely!”

Next time you’re in Vancouver and in the mood for South American cuisine, coupled with the rhythmic sounds of Brazilian samba and bossa nova, be sure to drop by Baru Latino Restaurante.

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.