The winners of the BMI Foundation’s 24th Annual John Lennon Scholarships, a program that recognizes the nation’s best and brightest young songwriters between the ages of 17 and 24, were announced by Samantha Cox, Vice President of the BMI Foundation and Director of the competition. The John Lennon Scholarships were established by Yoko Ono in 1997 in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, and honor the memory of one of the preeminent songwriters of the twentieth century. The program has been made possible through generous donations from Ono in cooperation with Gibson Musical Instruments. The John Lennon Scholarships competition annually awards up to $20,000 to the three best original song submissions. More than $400,000 has been awarded over the last 20 years to students from colleges and universities throughout the United States.
The First Place prize for 2021 was awarded to Connor Kauffman for his song "White Lies" and Emily O'Neal of Middle Tennesse State University took Second Place for her song "Paint Me." Third Place was split between Mollie Beaver of Tabor College and UCLA's Trinity Rose.
Over five hundred students nationwide entered this year’s competition. The judging panel included Rich Christina, Sr. VP & Head of East Coast A&R at Sony ATV Music Publishing; Matt Maschi, Director of A&R at Universal ; Evan Lipschutz, SVP of A&R at Arista Records and David Silberstein of Megahouse.
About the Winners
Connor Kauffman is a 19 year old singer/songwriter from North Haven Connecticut who started making music a few years ago and it eventually evolved to posting songs on TikTok. Within only a week of posting, he was signed and secured a label. He currently resides in Los Angeles is prepping for the next single out in November.
Emily O’Neal discovered songwriting at 13 years old while growing up in Florida. She immediately fell in love with the process of writing songs and it became an outlet for expressing her emotions. She has been labeled as “One to Watch” by Nashville Songwriters Association International and a semi-finalist for the Music City Song Star competition. Now living in Nashville, Emily studies songwriting at Middle Tennessee State University. She released four new singles this year, including “Paint Me,” leading up to her debut EP “Otherworldly” which is set to be released in November.
Mollie Beaver is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from the Midwest who loves all types of music but especially country, jazz, and Christian. Her current single “Gamer” is playing and charting in Europe, Mollie’s passion is all aspects of music including the production process, writing, and performing. At age 13 she sang the national anthem for the Kansas City Royals and her song, "When You Dream Big" provides water filters to a school in Nairobi, Kenya. Her most recent album Roads was released in August.
Trinity Rose is an award-winning singer/songwriter from Los Angeles and attends UCLA for music. Trinity was selected out of 50,000 artists as the youngest female contestant ever for the reality TV series, NBC “The Voice” and was chosen to take part in the prestigious GRAMMY CAMP. Her duet single, “Miss You” with Netflix “The Umbrella Academy” star Aidan Gallagher, has reached over 8 million streams combined on Spotify, Apple Music & YouTube and regularly performs in Hollywood venues such as The Hotel Café, Whisky A Go Go & State Social House. She was recently nominated to perform at The Compassionate Leader Summit with the Dalai Lama in 2020 for her charity and songwriting.