Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Music

Because music is such a universal language, and draws its influences from around the globe, the World genre plays a significant role in its progress, and cannot be ignored. Orignially coined in the 1980's by the British, the term "World Music" refers to a "musical genre incorporating diverse styles from Africa, eastern Europe, Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and nonmainstream Western folk sources." Initially, World music stood out because of its sharp contrast with the prevalent synth pop movement in North America and throughout Europe. Most of this music originated in Africa, and consequently, many African stars were born. This newly crowned World music royalty included the Nigerians King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the Senegalese Youssou N'Dour. However, as the genre expanded, notable legends-to-be like Francis Bebey emerged. As World music's influence continues to grow, opportunities are arising from all corners of the world, and international talent that would have otherwise remained obsolete to most North American listeners is given a spotlight.
2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (World) winners Jaffa Road are a perfect example of the interesting and diverse nature of World music, and the experimentation that it allows. Because the genre's boundaries are loosely defined, World musicians are given liscense to try out a myriad of different styles and sounds. The result is an amalgamation of many different cultures' coveted musical identities into a cohesive and intruiging type of music. Because of this freedom, Jaffa Road is able to blend an abundance of styles such as jazz, Indian and Arabic, electronica, dub, and traditional Jewish folk music with poetry from Hebrew, Spanish, and English cultures read over it. Another John Lennon Songwriting Contest (2007, World) contest winner, Joshua Lebofsky, focuses on jazz infused with World-beat percussion and various vocal styles, as well as improvisation from peer World musicians. Joshua's album "Play a Little Prayer" is available on Itunes, Amazon, and
With all of the possibilites that World music has to offer, now is the perfect time to experiment. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest accepts World music entries and looks forward to hearing your songs. Session II, 2010 is currently open.

(Joshua Lebofsky)

(Jaffa Road)


Monday, June 28, 2010

Maxell Song of the Year

With July just around the corner, the anticipation of this year’s Maxell Song of the Year award is rapidly increasing. This prestigious prize is accompanied with $20,000 and a catapult into songwriting stardom. The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriter who best exemplifies prowess in musical composition from any of the contest's categories (Children's, Country, Electronic, Folk, Gospel, Hip Hop, Jazz, Latin, Pop, R & B, Rock, and World). This award encompasses the entire year in songwriting entries, from all around the world.

2009 produced an exciting and diverse list of Lennon Award winners. These talented songwriters have each won $1000 in Mackie, Ampeg or Blackheart products, and 1000 custom CD's printed in full color 6 panel digipaks courtesy of Disc Makers worth $1990. Kate Rowe, the Children's songwriting winner, won the Lennon Award for her song "Space Rabbits of Brocklevoons". From her hometown in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia, Kate continues to write music, and play local live shows. Country Lennon Award Winners Debra Gussin and Rik Howard won for their song "Is That You?". Debra owns her own publishing company, "High Flying Hench Music" and is interested in pitching songs to artists, television shows, and working toward a publishing deal. This year's Lennon Award winner in the Electronic category is Sean VanDommelen for his song "Lonely Girl". Sean is signed to Sleepy Pilot Music, and is gathering a strong following in the Tacoma music scene. The notable folk duo Madison Violet received the Lennon Award in Folk music for their song "The Ransom". The band consists of Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac, and hails from Toronto, Canada. Their album "No Fool for Trying" earned the duo the 2009 Canadian Folk Award for Best Vocal Group. The recipient of this year’s Gospel Lennon Award is Casey Lee Smith for his song "Never Stood Taller". At only 18 years old, Casey has begun to record his debut album under the production of esteemed recording artist & Grammy nominated Bryan Austin, Gavin MacKillop and Platinum Award Winning mixer & producer Rudy Haeusermann. Ray Clayton's song "Appocolypse" earned him a Lennon Award in the Hip Hop category. Ray's socially aware lyricism is best exemplified on his EP entitled "Rebel With a Cause". James Torme received this year’s Lennon Award for his Jazz composition "A Better Day Will Come". James’ vocal and compositional skills are illustrated in his debut CD "Love for Sale". Peter Torsiello's song Vamo' Ya won this year's Latin Lennon Award. Peter's debut album has earned him an abundance of critical acclaim and has resided on play lists in over 72 major national markets. "The Ladder" by Chicago songwriter Andrew Belle won the Lennon Award for Pop music. Belle's "smart pop" has garnered accolades from various sources, and opportunities to play with notable acts such as Ben Folds. Canadian songwriter/producer Michael Rosso received the Lennon Award for his R & B composition "Be Like You". Michael hopes to continue his efforts in the music business, and aspires to become a professional sound engineer or songwriter. Rock group Carlon's song "Cantaloupe" won the Lennon Award as well. Carlon's roots are in New Jersey, and they are signed to the independent record label Ropeadope Digital. Finally, World music duo Jaffa Road was the recipient of one of this years Lennon awards. Their LP Wulajan is available for purchase on
The 2008 Maxell Song of the Year winner, jazz artist Matt Cusson, continues to thrill live audiences and remote listeners. Last July, fellow musician and tour-mate Brian McKnight surprised Matt during one of their shows by announcing that Matt was the Song of the Year award recipient in the 12th annual John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "One of Those Nights." Almost one year later, Matt has pushed forward with his dreams and found all of the success that comes with hard work and determination. He continues to tour with McKnight and plays on The Brian McKnight Show, a program on the CW television network, and it is only a matter of time before his music is noticed by a record label. In the mean-time, his self-titled album is available on iTunes, and a second album is on the way. For more updates on Matt Cusson, visit
Remember to sign up for the 2010 Section II John Lennon Songwriting Contest! The deadline is December 15, 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010


On June 25, 2010, the Lennon Bus will arrive at the 15th annual Warped Tour. This historic music/extreme sports touring festival has featured many prominent artists such as Anti-Flag, Avenged Sevenfold, and My Chemical Romance. This years tour includes performances from Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, Everclear, Mike Posner, Sum 41, and many more. Among the esteemed acts present is K-Sera, a finalist in the 2009 Section II John Lennon Songwriting Contest. They will be playing the festival from June 25-July 3, 2010.
K-Sera consists of Michael Caswell (Vocals/Guitar), Sean Stack (Lead guiar), David Christensen (Piano), Jordan McCoy (Bass), and Dustin Combs (Drums). The band began as the solo project of Michael Caswell in Sacramento, California. Eventually, by 2009, the lineup solidified and the band began touring. K-Sera was also able to record the EP "Smile for the Inevitable" under the production of Thomas Dutton. Their song "Me Before Women and Children" was a finalist in the 2009 Session II John Lennon Songwriting contest. This song can be downloaded for free here:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Songwiters Hall of Fame

Songwriters Hall of Fame

On June 22, 2009, three new inductees were added into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. Among the honorees were Leonard Cohen, Phil Collins, Earth Wind and Fire, and Taylor Swift. The event took place at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, and included speeches by John Mayer, Billy Joel, Judy Collins, Paul Simon, David Foster and Johnny Mandel.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 by Johnny Mercer, a popular songwriter. Along with its anual induction dinner, the organization holds workshops, showcases, and offers scholarships to emerging musical artists. The induction ceremony is divided by a series of awards. These include the Hal Davids Starlight Award, the Johnny Mercer Award, the Abe Olman Publisher Award, and the Towering Song/Towering Performance award,
There have been 345 inducees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Notablke HJonorees incluide John Fogerty, Issac Hayes, Carole King, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, Van Morrison, and many more. A full list can be found here:
Notably, Kerry Politzer, the John Lennon Songwriting Contest 2000 Honorable Mention winner, was given the honor of performing her contemporary jazz song "Love Is In The Atmosphere" at the Songwriters Hall of Fame's 62nd New Writers Showcase.

Photos from last night's events: