Throughout his prolific career, composer/musician/songwriter James Newton Howard has scored films of all scales and genres, earning multiple award nominations for his work. Los Angeles-born Howard began studying music as a small child and went on to attend the Santa Barbara Music Academy and then majored in piano performance at the University of Southern California. After Howard left college, he toured with Elton John as a keyboardist during the late 1970s and early 1980s before moving into film music in the mid-1980s.
By the 1990s, Howard truly hit his career stride, scoring the surprise blockbuster romantic comedy Pretty Woman (1990) and receiving his first Oscar nomination for Barbra Streisand's drama The Prince of Tides (1991). Setting the musical mood for numerous films throughout the decade, Howard's skills encompassed a plethora of genres, including the Oscar-nominated actioner The Fugitive (1993), the Western epic Wyatt Earp (1994), the legal drama Primal Fear (1996), the blockbuster suspense thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), and two more Julia Roberts romantic comedy hits, My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and Runaway Bride (1999). My Best Friend's Wedding earned Howard his third Oscar nomination for Best Score (his collaborations on tunes for One Fine Day (1996) and Junior (1994) garnered Best Song nods). Along with scoring such smaller, character-driven films as Five Corners (1988), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and American Heart (1993), Howard proved equally skilled at composing for big-budget Hollywood spectacles, including Space Jam (1996), Dante's Peak (1997), and Dinosaur (2000). Though he concentrated primarily on films, Howard also contributed music for TV shows, earning an Emmy nomination in 1995 for his theme to NBC's ratings smash ER.