Kara DioGuardi

Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi (/ˈkærə dˈɡwɑːrdi/; born December 9, 1970) is an American songwriter, record producer, music publisher, A&R executive, singer, composer and television personality. She writes music primarily in the pop rock genre.[2] DioGuardi has worked with many popular artists;[3] sales of albums on which her songs appear exceed 160 million worldwide.[4] DioGuardi is a Grammy and Emmy-nominated writer. She is a 2011 NAMM Music For Life Award winner, 2009 NMPA Songwriter Icon Award winner, 2007 BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year, and has received 20 BMI Awards for co-writing the most performed songs on the radio.

Kara DioGuardi
Kara DioGuardi.jpg
DioGuardi in April 2007
Kara Elizabeth DioGuardi

(1970-12-09) December 9, 1970 (age 49)
Years active1999–present
Musical career

DioGuardi served as a judge on American Idol for its eighth and ninth seasons. In 2008, she was appointed to the position of executive vice president of talent development at Warner Bros. Records, and has signed acts such as Jason Derulo and Iyaz. In 2011, she was a head judge on the Bravo singer-songwriter competition series Platinum Hit.

Early lifeEdit

DioGuardi was born in Ossining, New York.[1] She is descended from Roman Catholic Arbëreshë/Albanian from Italy.[5][6] Her father is former Republican Congressman and 2010 US Senate candidate Joe DioGuardi.[1] Her mother Carol died in 1997 after a 7-year battle with ovarian cancer.[7]

DioGuardi grew up in the Wilmot Woods section of suburban New Rochelle, New York,[8] and attended elementary school at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Scarsdale, New York, followed by The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, before earning a degree in political science at Duke University.[1] After graduating from college, she worked for Billboard magazine as an assistant to Timothy White and Howard Lander and later as an advertising sales representative.


Professional songwriterEdit

DioGuardi has a songwriting catalog of several hundred songs, of which over 300 have been released on major labels worldwide, and over 150 have appeared on platinum selling albums. She has had 50 international charting singles over the course of her career, and her songs have helped propel more than 66 albums into the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. Her songs have been featured in major motion pictures, television shows, film soundtracks, and radio spots, as well as national and international commercial campaigns.

She wrote with Ashlee Simpson for her first and second albums, in 2003 and 2004. She collaborated with Thalía in 2003 for her self-titled album Thalía. In 2004, DioGuardi co-wrote on six of the tracks off Kelly Clarkson's sophomore album Breakaway including Clarkson's hit "Walk Away". She also worked with Christina Aguilera on her album Back to Basics in 2006, co-writing twelve of the thirteen tracks on disc one of the album, among them being "Ain't No Other Man", and "Back in the Day". In the same year, she collaborated with Jesse McCartney on his album Right Where You Want Me, co-writing four songs called "Anybody", "Invincible", "Running Away" and "Feels Like Sunday".

In 2007, DioGuardi worked with many notable artists, one of whom was Britney Spears. DioGuardi wrote and produced "Ooh Ooh Baby" and co-produced "Heaven on Earth" on Spears' album Blackout. DioGuardi also contributed a majority of songs on Hilary Duff's fourth studio album, Dignity.

Since American Idol Season 8, DioGuardi returned to songwriting and producing, and has worked with number of artists, including Pink's "Sober," Kelly Clarkson's "I Do Not Hook Up," Cobra Starship ft./ Leighton Meester "Good Girls Go Bad," Katharine McPhee's "Had It All", Carrie Underwood's "Undo It", and Theory of a Deadman's "Not Meant to Be" among other new releases.

Among DioGuardi's projects is the song "Not Meant to Be", which appears on Theory of a Deadman's 2008 album, Scars & Souvenirs.[9] DioGuardi co-wrote the song with lead singer Tyler Connolly, and is also featured as the love interest in the music video which was released on March 10, 2009. This was her debut in the music video industry.[10]

In 2009, DioGuardi wrote "If I Can't Have You" for Meat Loaf's 2010 album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear and recorded the vocal as a duet with Meat Loaf. She is also one of the writers for "Ghost", which was released as a single from Fefe Dobson's album Joy (2010). She wrote songs for Aussie singer Natalie Imbruglia's third studio album Counting Down the Days.

After taking a break from writing she wrote on Kelly Clarkson's "Heartbeat Song" which was the first single from Clarkson's seventh studio album Piece by Piece (2015). She wrote "Rebel Hearts" for Hilary Duff's Breathe In Breathe Out album in 2015.

Songs for film and televisionEdit

DioGuardi has also written for films and television series. She wrote "Brand New Day" for Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, "We Rock" and "Play My Music" for Camp Rock, "He Could Be the One" for Hannah Montana, "Set This Party Off" for Jonas and "Someone Watching over Me" for Raise Your Voice. She has also written songs that have been used as themes such as "Taking Chances" on Glee, "Come Clean" on Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, "Autobiography" on The Ashlee Simpson Show and "Ain’t No Other Man" on Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

Music publishingEdit

DioGuardi co-owns Arthouse Entertainment, a publishing company that is a resource business for record companies and other music entities seeking compositions, productions, artists, and related music services. Arthouse has been a part of many chart-topping hits including B.O.B's "Nothin’ On You," Bruno Mars’ "Just The Way You Are" and "Grenade," Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You," Flo Rida's "Club Can’t Handle Me," Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack," Jason Derulo's "Want to want me" and "Trumpets," Eminem's "Monster," Zedd's "Beautiful Now," Jon Bellion's "All Time Low," Maroon 5's "Memories," Illenium's "Good Things Fall Apart," Halsey's "Graveyard,"Florida Georgia's Line "Simple," Ingrid Andress' "More Hearts Than Mine."

Reality televisionEdit

In July 2006, DioGuardi was a judge in an Idol-like TV show called The One: Making a Music Star. The show debuted on ABC with the second-lowest rating ever for a premiere on a major American network and was abruptly canceled after just two weeks.[11]

In 2009, she joined the hit Fox television show American Idol as a fourth judge for the show's eighth season alongside judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.[12] She returned to Idol for its ninth season alongside Simon, Randy and new judge Ellen DeGeneres who replaced Paula Abdul after she quit the show in contract disagreements.[13] However, she decided to leave the show on September 3, 2010, and did not return for the tenth season of Idol.[14] It has since been stated that DioGuardi helped Steven Tyler become a judge on American Idol, after they worked together at DioGuardi's house in Los Angeles. She has had Idol connections in the past: in 2000, DioGuardi and former Idol judge Paula Abdul co-wrote the UK number-one single "Spinning Around", performed by Kylie Minogue. She has written many songs sung by Idol winners and alumni such as Kelly Clarkson, Allison Iraheta, David Archuleta, Carrie Underwood, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, and Adam Lambert. She co-wrote the American Idol season eight coronation single, "No Boundaries", which was performed by both finalists during the competition. DioGuardi struggled to find her place among the judges. In Richard Rushfield's book, "American Idol: The Untold Story," he reveals that often the other judges would leave the studio during commercial breaks, leaving DioGuardi behind to awkwardly sit by herself.[15]

Kara also co-wrote with Jason Reeves a song called "Terrified" for Katharine McPhee's album Unbroken,[16] which was covered by Didi Benami, an American Idol contestant from Season 9, during Hollywood week. DioGuardi also recorded a video of herself singing "Terrified" with Jason Reeves on YouTube, which currently has over 1,800,000 views. She appeared on Hannah Montana as herself in the episode "Judge Me Tender".

After leaving American Idol, she was a head judge on the Bravo singer-songwriter competition series Platinum Hit as of 2011.[17]

Other projectsEdit

DioGuardi guest starred as herself on The Simpsons and Sesame Street.

From September 5 – October 30, 2011, she made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago.[18][19]

DioGuardi has also released an autobiography after her departure from "American Idol" named A Helluva High Note; Surviving Life, Love and American Idol.

Since 2012, she has taught a semester course called "Hitmaking with Kara DioGuardi" at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The course was developed specifically for the fall 2012 curriculum and paired 27 student songwriters and producers to mirror today's music industry practices.[20] One of her students was Charlie Puth.

In late 2017, DioGuardi helped launch the first Maine effort of a national program working to prevent child sexual abuse, the Enough Abuse Campaign (EAC).[21][22]

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • BMI Country Music Award – 2011 ("Undo It," Carrie Underwood)
  • BMI Country Music Award - 2011 ("Mama’s Song," Carrie Underwood)
  • NSAI Award – 2011 ("This," Darius Rucker)
  • NSAI Award – 2011 ("Undo It", Carrie Underwood)
  • BMI Pop Music Award – 2011 ("I Never Told You," Colbie Caillat)
  • BMI Pop Music Award – 2011 ("Good Girls Go Bad," Cobra Starship)
  • NAMM Music For Life Award—2011
  • SOCAN Pop/Rock Music Award—2010 ("Not Meant To Be," Theory of a Deadman)
  • BMI Pop Music Award – 2010 ("I Do Not Hook Up," Kelly Clarkson)
  • BMI Pop Music Award – 2010 ("Sober," Pink)
  • BMI Pop Music Award – 2010 ("Not Meant To Be," Theory of a Deadman)
  • NMPA Songwriter Icon Award—2009
  • BMI Latin Pop Music Award—2009 ("Somebody’s Me," Enrique Iglesias)
  • BMI Latin Pop Music Award—2008 ("Bella Traicion," Belinda)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2008 ("Ain’t No Other Man," Christina Aguilera)
  • Columbus Citizens Foundation Award – 2007—Outstanding Contribution to the Vocal Arts
  • SOCAN Pop Award—2007 ("Walk Away," Kelly Clarkson)
  • TAXI Award—2007 Humanitarian of the Year
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2007 Songwriter of the Year
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2006 ("I’m Feeling You," Santana)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2006 ("Walk Away," Kelly Clarkson)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2006 ("The Real Thing," Bo Bice)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2005 ("Pieces of Me," Ashlee Simpson)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2005 ("Rich Girl," Gwen Stefani)
  • London Award - 2004 ("I'm Ready," Cherie)
  • BMI Pop Music Award—2002 ("Escape," Enrique Iglesias)
  • BMI Top Ten Latin Award—2002 ("Escapar," Enrique Iglesias)
  • BMI Film & TV Music Award—2003 (For the People theme song)

In 2003, DioGuardi won a BMI Cable Award for co-writing and performing "Somethin' To Say", the theme to the Lifetime Television series For the People, which starred Lea Thompson, Debbi Morgan, A. Martinez and Cecilia Suárez. Kara has been awarded 15 BMI Awards for having co-written the most performed songs on the radio. One of the industry's most highly sought after songwriters and producers, DioGuardi's songs have appeared on records that have sold more than 150 million copies combined. In 2007, DioGuardi was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Song of the Year for her writing on the Belinda single, "Bella Traición" along with co-writers Belinda, Ben Moody, Nacho Peregrin and producer Mitch Allan. In November 2007, Kara was awarded the TAXI A&R award for Humanitarian of the Year at their annual Road Rally Convention.[23]


As a vocalistEdit

With MaD DoLL:

With Platinum Weird:

As a featured artist:

Music videos

  • "Not Meant to Be" - Theory of a Deadman (2009)

Personal lifeEdit

DioGuardi splits her time between Los Angeles, California and York Harbor, Maine.[25] She began dating teacher-turned-general contractor Mike McCuddy in 2007[26] after the two met while he was working on a home adjacent to her property in Maine.[27] Following a year and a half of dating, DioGuardi and McCuddy became engaged in December 2008,[28] and married on July 5, 2009 in Prospect Harbor, Maine.[29] McCuddy has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship.[30] Together, DioGuardi and McCuddy have one son, Greyson James Carroll McCuddy, born via gestational carrier on January 31, 2013.[31] The couple made the decision to use a surrogate after years of infertility and unsuccessful in vitro fertilization attempts.[32]

DioGuardi works with the Phoenix House, a non-profit substance abuse service organization; she contributes to recording studios in the facilities and helps teach the teens how to operate the equipment.[23] In February 2010, she joined former American Idol contestant Elliott Yamin in a charity trip sponsored by ExxonMobil to Angola where they visited malaria prevention and treatment projects as part of Idol Gives Back.



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Rock Legends: Platinum Weird Herself Television film
2006 The One: Making a Music Star Herself
2009–2010 American Idol Herself / Judge
2009 Hannah Montana Herself Episode: "Judge Me Tender"
2010 The Simpsons Herself (voice) Episode: "Judge Me Tender"
2011 Platinum Hit Herself

Published worksEdit

  • DioGuardi, Kara (2011). A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love, and American Idol. It Books. ISBN 0062059890.


  1. ^ a b c d Kinon, Christina. "'American Idol' judge Kara DioGuardi stole show - at 12", Daily News (New York), August 27, 2008. Accessed February 11, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Kara DioGuardi All Music". All Music.com. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  3. ^ "Kara DioGuardi - Related Artists". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  4. ^ HarperCollins Author Bio Archived February 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The DioGuardi Family Story". Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "Kara DioGuardi". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  7. ^ Caramanica, Jon. "Idols, You’ll Have to Pass Through Her", The New York Times, January 9, 2009. Accessed February 11, 2009.
  8. ^ Carlson, Erin (August 29, 2008). "Table for four: New Rochelle's Kara DioGuardi joins 'Idol' judges". Associated Press / lohud.com.
  9. ^ "Theory Of A Deadman Video Stars kara DioGuardi". Road Runner Records. February 2, 2009.
  10. ^ "Behind the Scenes of "Not Meant to Be"". YouTube. March 28, 2009.
  11. ^ Maynard, John (July 26, 2006). "'One' Miserable Showing: 'Idol' Knockoff Sets a Record". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ "`AmericanIdol' adds DioGuardi as fourth judge". Associated Press. August 29, 2008. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008.
  13. ^ "Kara DioGuardi Returning to American Idol". People. July 30, 2009. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009.
  14. ^ "Kara DioGuardi not returning to 'American Idol': It's (finally) official". Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Kara DioGuardi". Archived from the original on March 1, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  17. ^ "Ex-Idol Judge Gets New TV Show, Toronto Star". The Star. October 26, 2010.
  18. ^ BWW News Desk. "Kara DioGuardi to Make Broadway Debut as 'Roxie' in CHICAGO in Sept". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  19. ^ "Former "American Idol" Judge Kara DioGuardi Will Make Broadway Debut in Chicago". Playbill. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  20. ^ Michele Amabile Angermiller. "Former 'American Idol' Judge Kara DioGuardi Teaching College Course". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  21. ^ McDermott, Deborah. "Christmas Angels: 'Inspiring others' to stop child sexual abuse". seacoastonline.com. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Former 'American Idol' judge partners with Maine doctor, cop to fight child sex abuse". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  23. ^ a b Laskow, Michael (February 2008). "A&R Insuder: Kara DioGuardi, Keynote Interview, Part 2, Live on Stage at TAXI's Road Rally 2007". TAXI Transmitter / taxi.com.
  24. ^ Sarah Liss (January 14, 2009). "Idol hands - Why would a hit songwriter join the peanut gallery on American Idol?". CBC News. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  25. ^ Jon Caramanica (January 9, 2009). "Idols, You'll Have to Pass Through Her". New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
  26. ^ Eunice Oh (2009). "Idol Judge Kara DioGuardi Got Engaged in Her Pajamas". People. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  27. ^ Colin Sargent (2009). "Idol Banter". Portland Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  28. ^ Eunice Oh (2009). "Idol Judge Kara DioGuardi Got Engaged in Her Pajamas". People. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  29. ^ Cynthia Wang (2009). "American Idol Judge Kara DioGuardi Weds in Maine". People. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  30. ^ Idol Judge Kara DioGuardi Engaged! People.com, January 13, 2009
  31. ^ "Kara DioGuardi Welcomes Son Greyson James". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  32. ^ Marisa Laudadio (January 16, 2013). "Baby Boy on the Way for Kara DioGuardi". People. Retrieved January 17, 2013.


External linksEdit