From Waco to stardom: The BU alumna that became a hit songwriter

When first starting school, Baylor Alum Heidi Rojas had no idea that Baylor University would be the beginning of her career as a #1 hit songwriter, artist developer and songwriting, performance and vocal coach. Courtesy photo

By Olivia Martin | Social Media Editor

Chicago native and Baylor alumna Heidi Rojas always knew she wanted to follow her family’s musical background. However, she had no idea that Baylor University would be the beginning of her career as a #1 hit songwriter, artist developer and songwriting, performance and vocal coach.

Rojas said she gives credit to her musically-gifted family for inspiring her own love for music and the arts. She loves her family’s Guatemalan roots, and is proud of her heritage as a Latina. With her mother being from Guatemala and her father being from Cuba, Roja said the culture of music was simply always around her growing up.

“We have this incredible, vibrant, musical culture in both of those Latin cultures,” Rojas said. “I grew up listening to every kind of music. I grew up taking voice lessons when I was eleven and touring and doing all this incredible stuff.”

When Rojas came to Baylor in 2004, she decided that she wanted to take a break from music and simply be a normal college student. Although, Rojas said she thought about going straight to Nashville to pursue her music, the thought of Baylor was extremely appealing. She said she would have to seek out more ways to get involved at a school that wasn’t specifically known for music.

“[Attending Baylor] allowed me to study different things and to make art, like music, my passion and not my study,” Rojas said. “I knew I wanted to study things not related to music but that I wanted to have fun doing musical things.”

She began singing at Common Grounds regularly and got involved with a program offered by Baylor that helped students record their own songs. Rojas also was involved with a comedy group called the Gorilla Comedy Troupe which brought her a huge sense of joy and fun.

“Ultimately, those were small ways that I was creative, aside from just writing songs at home all the time,” said Rojas.

The Marketing for Music Program that Rojas was a part of at Baylor was ultimately what allowed her to merge her passion for music and her desire to be a non-music major college student. She said it fueled her choice to leave Chicago and go to school in Waco, where she didn’t know a single person.

Rojas said the decision to go to Baylor ultimately led her to getting an internship in Nashville; which led to a job; then led her to continue her career pursuit in Los Angeles.

“It all really just came from taking this crazy risk to go to Baylor, versus the other schools that I had applied to,” said Rojas.

Rojas thought her time at Baylor would be a break for her from music, but instead, it led to opportunities and experiences that ultimately helped her career be what it is today.

Rojas said she thanks her family for their support and encouragement, as going to college being the first American-born child in her family was a big achievement. She talked about how her immigrant parents faced many struggles and challenges as they attended college.

“I’m the first born in America, going to college, and it was not just me deciding to go to college, it was a huge thing for my family and big achievement,” Rojas said.

After graduating with a business degree in music and entertainment, Rojas was hooked up with an internship in Nashville where she was later offered a position at Warner Brothers. She then began pursuing her own career in songwriting and left Warner Brothers to move to Los Angeles, where she is now married and has two kids.

Rojas said her first few years in L.A. were spent building a network of writers and producers and she started writing with anyone that would write with her. Rojas ended up co-writing two UK #1 singles, “Wings” by Little Mix and “Crazy Stupid Love” by Cheryl Cole, and has worked with numerous artists.

Rojas explained how her career has shifted since having a family and now she focuses on being a songwriting coach, vocal coach and performance coach. She is also working with her partner and friend Lauren Christy in developing young, female artists in a predominantly male-run industry.

Since Rojas and Christy met and became friends, they have written songs together and formed a collective of 10 women in the music industry called Songwriters Under New Government (SVNG). Most recently, she started a development company to take artists to the top floor of the music business.

“It’s a distinct pleasure having Heidi Rojas as a business partner,” said Christy. “This accomplished, hit songwriter, mentor, teacher [and] business executive never ceases to amaze me.”

Rojas said she hopes her success inspires others from Baylor to know what is possible with hard work. She said a key factor is developing a bigger network of connections. Encouraging college students to think outside of the box while networking.

“Be creative in the way that you get yourself out there and build your community,” said Rojas.