GSW student Chris Driggers a finalist in BMI Foundation songwriting competition

AMERICUS (August, 2, 2011)--The name John Lennon invokes a deep cord for music enthusiasts throughoutthe globe. In the coming weeks, it may be connected with Georgia Southwestern State University student and Southland Academy graduate Chris Driggers.

In December of 2010, Driggers, a biology major with a passion for music, submitted a song in the BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) Foundation’s John Lennon Songwriting Competition. Earlier this spring, he was notified that his entry “What I Know You Got” was selected as a finalist. Should he win, Driggers would receive a $10,000 scholarship and the right to call himself an award-winning songwriter.

“It would be really awesome if I won,” Driggers said with an understated tone. “I feel like my chances are okay, but I doubt I’m the best songwriter.”

The competition is only open to current students or recent alumni at an institution with an active MENC (National Association from Music Educators – formerly Music Educators National Conference) Collegiate chapter. This made for quite an ordeal.

“To enter the contest, you had to be a member of the MENC,” he said. “I went through a lot trying to get the application complete, just so I could send in the song. I had to write the song, record it, and get it in, all at the last minute. It was due in December, and I had only a few weeks before the actual deadline.”

Apparently writing a good song is like reading a good book. Until complete, you cannot put it down.n.

“It came quickly,” Driggers said when referring to the amount of time it took to write the lyrics on the music. “I think I had the first verse written, and I was constantly singing the lyrics over the cords. I would drive down the road and see how the melody would fit the music, and I started writing the second verse.

“Instead of sitting in geology class paying attention to what I had been learning, I was writing lyrics,” he added. “After a while you become obsessed with the song that you are writing, and you can’t focus on anything else.”

With lines that read “My heart aches for your loving,” Driggers was asked if his new wife, Danielle (a fellow GSW student), was the essence behind the lyrics.

“Well, it was just something I had written down, so I guess I had Danielle in mind,” he said, “but it was one of those things that just comes to you.”

Winning entries are awarded to the best original composition for vocal-instrumental performance with the broadest popular appeal. Driggers’ entry is up against 35 others from large universities like Arizona State, Nebraska and Cal State Fullerton, and small schools like Snow College in Utah and Adams State College in Colorado.

One first place winner will be awarded $10,000 in scholarship money, while second and third place will receive $5,000 each. Two honorable mention winners will receive $2,000 in prize money.

Scheduled to graduate in May 2012, Driggers will certainly take the money if he wins. However, he relishes the competition because of a hobby that he has developed over the years.

“For some reason, I just enjoy entering into contests,” he said. “I have entered a few others, as well.”

Driggers entered a mock theme-song in a contest for the TV show “Lost” a few summers ago. “I just thought it would be fun,” he said.

An Americus native, Driggers’ love for music can be traced back to at least the fourth grade, when he began playing the snare drum. He now plays six instruments: guitar, piano, cello, violin, mandolin and drums. He also works part-time for the music ministry at Central Baptist Church in Americus.

Throughout the process, the Georgia Southwestern music professor that Driggers knows best has provided consistent support.

“Nearly every music class that I have taken has been with Dr. Mark Laughlin, so he is the one that I know the best,” Driggers said. “He showed me how I could change things up or helped me out in spots that I struggled and gave feedback. He was very encouraging and very helpful in terms of the song and guiding me in the right direction.”

Established by Yoko Ono in 1997 in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, the John Lennon Scholarships have been made possible through generous donations from Ono with matching funds from Gibson Musical Instruments. More than $275,000 has been awarded over the last 13 years to students from select colleges, universities and music schools, and from national submissions from the National Association of Music Education/MENC chapters.

The competition results are scheduled to be released before summer’s end.

- GSW -