The BMI Foundation, Inc. has announced that 20-year old Lisa Occhino of Stamford is the first place winner of the 15th Annual John Lennon Scholarship, a national songwriting competition that recognizes the best and brightest young songwriters between the ages of 17 and 24. A pianist, songwriter, singer, and music entrepreneur, Lisa was awarded $10,000 for her original song, “You Will Never Understand.”
“This came at a time when I was seriously starting to reconsider the extent to which I should pursue songwriting professionally, so I can’t even begin to express how much winning this competition means to me,” says Lisa. “I have to thank Phillip Peloubet and Tyler Kent for producing the track, Chase Potter for playing such beautiful violin on it, and my family, friends, fans, mentors, and professors who have supported me and believed in me no matter what.” Her song was judged by Warner Chappell Music Publishing VP Lee Dannay, Wind-up Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Gregg Wattenberg, producer Benny Blanco, Imagem Music President Richard Stumpf, and SONGS Music Publishing President and Head of A&R Ron Perry.
According to competition director Samantha Cox, approximately 1,000 submissions from schools in every state were entered into the competition. 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 $300,000 has been awarded over the last 13 years to students from select colleges, universities, and music schools, as well as from national submissions from the National Association of Music Education/MENC chapters. Lennon’s enormous creative legacy continues to inspire and uplift new generations of music lovers around the world.
Lisa is currently in her third year at Berklee College of Music studying music business/management and minoring in psychology. Upon entering the college, Berklee awarded her the Songwriting and Composition Scholarship to pursue her studies. This year, Lisa was awarded the Justin Kantor internship scholarship; was selected as a finalist in Berklee’s 2012 Perfect Pitch competition for her song, “I Told You So”; and won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Performing Songwriter Competition. Her original music, including her winning song, can be heard on her website (www.LisaOcchino.com).