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Breaking Into The Business

Breaking Into The BusinessAspiring musician Bridget Kearney, a student in the Tufts University-New England Conservatory of Music double-degree program, is a finalist in the international John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.19.06] While biking through Cambridge, Mass., late one night in 2004, Tufts student Bridget Kearney became inspired, she recently recalled to her hometown newspaper, the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Peddling her way home, she dreamed up “Sometimes When I’m Drunk and You’re Wearing My Favorite Shirt,” an award-winning song that may be the 20-year-old’s ticket into the tough-to-crack music business.

"My songwriting process is extremely varied and unpredictable, usually embarrassingly autobiographical," Kearney told the Press Citizen. Through a unique double-degree program, Kearney will earn a bachelor’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2007 along with her liberal arts degree from Tufts.

Despite her admittedly unconventional methods of crafting music, Kearney has caught the attention of some important players in the music industry with her song. Earlier this year, it earned her a grand prize in the jazz category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, an annual, international competition designed to open doors for professional and amateur songwriters.

The 2005 contest, sponsored by music companies like Maxell, Roland and Disc Makers, kicked off last January. At this stage of the game, 24 grand prize winners in 12 different categories remain. According to the Press-Citizen, in the jazz category Kearney is battling a Canadian group for a coveted Lennon Award, which comes complete with publishing contracts, studio equipment, free CDs and a shot at earning the Maxell "Song of the Year" title (a $20,000 prize).

UPDATE: In May, Bridget Kearney captured the 2005 Lennon Award in the jazz category. She will now compete against 11 other winners for the Maxell Song of the Year award.

“The odds aren't too bad," she told the newspaper. "But the outcome is very unpredictable because it's based solely on online voting."

But Kearney is keeping busy while she waits for the winners in each category to be announced in May.

As part of her liberal arts education at Tufts, she is spending the spring semester in Morocco studying “its culture and Arabic,” the Press-Citizen reported. “She also is learning Sufi-Islamic trance music called Gnawa, which developed in Morocco … [and she is] studying the gimbri, a three-stringed bass range instrument plucked like a guitar, under the tutelage of a Gnawa master she met there.”

Being in Morocco, Kearney admitted to the newspaper, has made it hard get the word out about her involvement in the competition.

“I guess only time will tell,” Kearney - whose group Lake Street Dive plans to make its first studio album this summer - told the Press-Citizen about the outcome of the contest. However, even if she doesn’t win she told the newspaper that the experience has been worthwhile.

"Being a young musician is a tough road,” she explained to the Press-Citizen. “Sometimes you can't just leave your future up to chance. Songwriting competitions like the (John Lennon) are a good way to get your name and your work into the industry and if it's worth listening to, hopefully someone will pick it up and help you out a little bit."




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