The winners of the BMI Foundation’s 11th Annual John Lennon Scholarships, a program that recognizes the best and brightest young songwriters between the ages of 15 and 24, were announced on May 27 by Samantha Cox, Director of the competition. Travis Knapp, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Ithaca College, won first place and a $10,000 scholarship for his song, "Before You Go." The New York state native received his award onstage in a special presentation during the BMI Pop Awards ceremony held May 20th in Los Angeles.
Second place and a $5,000 scholarship went to Berklee College of Music Student Enocha Tellus (also known as Anosha) for “Broken,” while Carleton College student Aaron Kaufman won third place and a $5,000 scholarship for “All My Life.” The judges gave one Honorable Mention and $1,000 award to Sarah Tollerson, a student at Berklee College of Music student, for “I’ll Sneak Away.”
The 2008 judges included hit songwriter/record producer Russ Titelman, songwriter/sideman/musician and BMI Songwriting Workshop instructor Billy Seidman, Verve A&R VP Mitchell Cohen and Kobalt VP of Creative Sharon Tapper. The preliminary judging panel included Samantha Cox, Charles Feldman, Glenda Miller, and Ben Tischker, all from BMI's New York-based Writer/Publisher Relations team. Thousands of students representing schools from every state participated. Many of them, including this year’s third-place winner, came through state and regional competitions administered by MENC, the National Association for Music Education.
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. Almost $200,000 has been awarded over the last ten years to students from select colleges, universities and music schools, and from national submissions from the National Association of Music Education/MENC chapters.