SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Senator Orrin Hatch passed away on April 23 and his funeral was held in Salt Lake City last week. In addition to his career as a U.S. Senator, Sen. Hatch also had a career in music that many may not know about. 

Sen. Hatch was passionate about songwriting and collaborated with many different people throughout his life. ABC4 spoke with several musical collaborators and members of Sen. Hatch’s family to learn more about his relationship to songwriting. 

All those who spoke with ABC4 had good things to say about Sen. Hatch’s songwriting. Responses were overwhelmingly positive about his kindness, talent, and passion for music. 

Brent Hatch, Sen. Hatch’s oldest son recalls that Sen. Hatch “grew up extraordinarily poor” as one of nine children, some of whom died early in life. According to his son, Sen. Hatch’s father was a construction worker, but despite financial troubles, his mother insisted he take violin and piano lessons. Brent says that while Sen. Hatch’s love for music started in his younger years, it persisted until he began to write lyrics professionally later in life. 

Brent says Sen. Hatch was “always writing poetry and loved doing it.” He describes “binder after binder” of song lyrics and poetry that Sen. Hatch compiled over years of writing. Brent says Sen. Hatch always engaged in poetry and lyric writing in a “purpose-driven” way.  

Sen. Hatch’s passion for lyrics and poetry was more than a hobby, however. He collaborated with many musical professionals and produced his lyrics into full production, published songs. His 2005 song “Unspoken” went platinum, indicating that the senator was a musical force to be reckoned with. 

Phil Naish, who spent 37 years in Nashville “working as a keyboard session player while simultaneously evolving into a music producer” collaborated with Sen. Hatch on several lyrical compositions that were produced into full-length songs. He said he met Sen. Hatch when he “wanted to come to Nashville to work with big-time writers.” 

Naish says that Sen. Hatch “knew what he was doing” with lyrics and would frequently work with him to set his poetry to music. When asked if it was different to collaborate musically with a U.S. Senator, Naish says that Sen. Hatch “didn’t really get into his ‘other’ job” when they were together. Naish says working with the Senator was “kind of normal” but in a good way and that he “never played Senator with us.” 

Naish and Sen. Hatch also worked with Lowell Alexander, a music producer who has published over 600 songs. Alexander got in contact with Sen. Hatch after the Senator learned he had written for Donny Osmond in the past. He received a call from the Senator out of the blue, which was a “huge surprise.” They began to collaborate shortly after. 

Alexander was “taken with Sen. Hatch’s genuine passion for music,” recalling the Senator would listen to “all kinds of music.” He mentions the Senator especially loved The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Alexander says that Sen. Hatch was really interested in the Nashville music scene where contemporary Gospel music was thriving in the ’90s and ’00s.  

When asked what working with Sen. Hatch was like, Alexander remembered him as “such a charming man, a kind and gentle man.” Their primary correspondence involved writing over long distances. Sen. Hatch would send Alexander lyrics and a title, and he would respond with music. Despite being a U.S. Senator, Alexander says that he and Sen. Hatch collaborated “equally.” 

Alexander recalls being with Sen. Hatch walking across Temple Square in Salt Lake City, when the Senator was approached by a constituent who recognized him. Alexander says that Sen. Hatch and the constituent talked for 20 minutes there at Temple Square, “laughing and smiling” the entire time. 

When asked about a favorite project collaborating with Sen. Hatch, both Alexander and Naish said their favorite composition was the patriotic tribute “Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones.” 

Naish recalls Drew Klein performing the song at the BYU Lavelle Edwards football stadium in front of 80,000 people. Alexander talks about being with the Senator, listening to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square perform the song and seeing how proud he was at that moment. 

Alexander recalls Sen. Hatch sharing a meal with him in his home. He remembers “walking into the dining room and seeing him at the dining table eating chili I made with a bunch of people around the table. He was smiling and laughing and turned to me and said that it was the best chili he had ever eaten.”

When Alexander heard that Sen. Hatch had passed away, he walked into the same dining room and “looked at the chair he sat in and was overwhelmed by melancholy” remembering that night. Alexander says that he had talked with Sen. Hatch every week for 20 years.