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A Helluva High Note: Surviving Life, Love, and American Idol Hardcover – April 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062059890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062059895
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Kara DioGuardi is an award-winning hitmaker, a savvy record executive, and a successful music publisher whose songs have been recorded by such superstars as Pink, Carrie Underwood, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Santana, Steven Tyler, Céline Dion, and so many others. She was also the feisty fourth judge on American Idol. But success wouldn’t have happened for this songwriter, artist, and producer without the dark times of defeat. Filled with the grace, raw honesty, and haunting emotion of her hit songs, A Helluva High Note is the soundtrack to Kara’s life—an intimate anthem about living, creating, loving, stumbling, picking herself up again, and ultimately succeeding. It is a moving chronicle of the experiences that have inspired her songs and given her the resilience and perspective to become the confidant, accomplished, adventurous warrior she is today.

Kara not only writes about what it was like to collaborate with some of our favorite performing artists, she also opens up about everything from her struggles with debilitating stage fright and an equally paralyzing eating disorder, to the most devastating yet profoundly life-altering experience—caring for her mother during her fatal battle with cancer. And, of course, she shares behind-the-scenes stories from her years on American Idol and the real truth about her departure from the show. 

A Helluva High Note is filled with memorable and inspirational tales from the heart and trenches of life, business, and the world of entertainment. Passionate, wise, funny, and down-to-earth, it proves that finding, cultivating, and following your own true voice really is possible.

About the Author

A Grammy-nominated, 2011 NAMM Music for Life Award winner, 2009 NMPA Songwriter Icon Award winner, and 2007 BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year, Kara DioGuardi has songs that have appeared on more than 160 million albums. Kara also serves as executive vice president of talent development at Warner Bros. Records and co-owns Arthouse Entertainment. In 2011, she made her Broadway debut in Chicago as Roxie Hart. She lives in Los Angeles and Maine with her husband, Michael McCuddy.


More About the Author

Kara DioGuardi's songs have appeared on more than 159 million albums. She is a Grammy-nominated hitmaker, a 2011 NAMM Music for Life Award winner, 2009 NMPA Songwriter Icon Award winner, and a 2007 BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year. In addition, she has received fifteen BMI Awards for cowriting the most-performed songs on the radio. Kara also works at Warner Bros. Records, where she serves as executive vice president of talent development; co-owns Arthouse Entertainment, a music-publishing venture with Bug Music; and is currently appearing as judge on Platinum Hit, Bravo's new reality show in search of America's best songwriters. In fall of 2011, Kara made her Broadway stage debut as merry murderess Roxie Hart in the Tony Award-winning hit musical CHICAGO. She lives in Los Angeles and Maine.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
It almost felt like she was just here hanging out, telling me some stories about her life.
A. Wells
All of this life experience has woven the tapestry of her music and that is how we are guided through the book.
John Perrone
What is most amazing, however, is how down-to-earth and hard working she has remained in spite of such stardom.
Brian Beirne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Beirne on April 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a must read: Kara tells an amazing life story of tragedy and triumph. It is truly remarkable how much she has accomplished via unyielding devotion to her dreams. She is obviously extremely talented, but what is even more striking is her tireless work ethic and commitment.

This book is an engagingly-written, "page turner" that is sure to captivate. Her encounters with music's biggest stars are wildly entertaining and fun to read. What is most amazing, however, is how down-to-earth and hard working she has remained in spite of such stardom. She is a paragon for overcoming obstacles and seizing the day.

This book really spoke to me, and I know that it will do the same for countless others.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Buckwalter on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I bought this as a gift for my 17 year old daughter, who is very interested in music (and sings quite well herself!). Not only did she read the whole thing in a matter of days (when's the last time she did that?!), she kept telling me how much she LOVED the book and how inspired it made her feel. Honestly, I haven't heard her say this many positive things about a book in years.

So since she wouldn't stop talking about what an inspiration it was for her, I eventually picked it up and started reading it. Well wouldn't you know, it was an EXCELLENT read!! I'm a 48 year old father of two and I found it not only to be a well-written story but very meaningful ... it really delivers the messages you'd want to instill in your children, so I'm thrilled to have my daughter be such a huge fan of this book. Not only that, but it's well-written, delivered with a fun tone, but at the same time is very heartfelt and personal.

I highly recommend everyone picks up this book. It made a great gift for my daughter and heck, I loved it too. It imparts great messages no matter what age you are, so do what I did - give it as a gift and then take it back, and read it for yourself!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Theodore W. Connolly on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've never been a huge fan of Kara. I missed Paula when Kara joined and actually stopped watching Idol. Then, I heard Kara on the radio talking about the book and I thought I'd give it a chance. But, even after getting the book, I had a hard time starting it.
When I finally did start reading, I did not want it to end. The book is awesome- thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational. In an industry where you always hear about bad people, it was great to read about a truly good person (yes, she won me over) who has made it to the top on her own through hard work and perseverance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nazirah Mottenon on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, so the first half of the book moved a little slow for me. It was told in a rather straight forward, bland kind of way that made it boring in parts. However, midway through, the book took off and I began to feel the emotion behind her story. From then on it was smooth sailing. I love the cover, the title is perfect, there were several laugh out loud moments, and I like how she gave the readers the back story and creative process behind many of the hit records she co-wrote, arranged and produced.

Kara's strength, resilience and her "I'm not going down without a fight" attitude is very inspiring. Through her story, this self made, independent woman proved that women can be successful in a male dominated industry without selling her soul.

If you're an aspiring songwriter looking to get some behind the scenes music business info, want some insight on the creative songwriting process, or just want to know about Kara's journey, I highly recommend this book. However, if you're looking for some juicy, behind the scenes American Idol secrets you may be slightly disappointed as she only devoted one chapter (the last chapter) to her experience on Idol.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mistermaxxx08 HALL OF FAME on April 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
now when she was on american idol, i didn't feel her much, because i thought she was a slightly more than marginal songwriter, while being a babe, was just another pretty face. however after reading her book and story i really respect her even more. i respect her grind in the business, however this book tackles a wide range of subjects inside the biz and the real world. she has been through a whole lot and she is holding on strong, this is a very compelling book at overcoming so much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Love VINE VOICE on June 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Kara, I really do. Hearing her sing the songs she's written, the emotions she puts into it moves me. She has a mentality that I really connect with, and that's why I got this book -- to learn more about her life in the music business, her struggles, and so forth. Her story is an inspiration for women in general. Her message is a powerful one: to not give up on your dreams because with hard work and a little bit of luck, you can achieve anything.

Appendix A is full of great advice, not just for aspiring songwriters but for anyone in a field that requires creativity and networking. And her stories behind the making of certain songs are very interesting, I enjoyed reading them. The chapter about her mom's struggle with cancer is very moving. She's at her best when she recounts specific events.

Having said that, as an autobiography I felt it was a bit lacking. It's a quick read (less than 200 pages). It left out one thing that I was interested in reading more about. Particularly being in Platinum Weird and the whole concept behind it; it was so viral. The book rambled or felt a bit preachy at times, but her voice always shines through. I felt like she was a bit too defensive about her time on American Idol when she didn't have to be. Haters are still gonna hate.

All in all, a decent book.
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