USA Songwriting Competition Winners

Established in 1995, the USA Songwriting Competition selects winners from 15 different song categories including pop, rock, country, r&b, jazz, world, folk, and more.

The results of the 17th Annual USA Songwriting Competition were recently announced and members of the Berklee community made an impressive showing.


Mike Schmid ’01 contest overall first-prize winner and first prize, children’s music category

Colin McCaffrey ’90 first-prize   winner, jazz category

Wendy Jill Cohen ’92 finalist, children’s music category

Gernot Wolfgang ’89 finalist, instrumental music category

Catie Offerman (current student) finalist, country music category

Leni Stern ’80 honorable mention, world music category

Andy Bianco ’88 honorable mention, jazz category

Class of 1957

Pianist Hal Galper of Cochecton, NY, released the trio album Airegin Revisited. It features Jeff Johnson and John Bishop. Visit 

Class of 1965

Michael Correra of Miami Beach, FL, is a commercial real estate agent with Piquet Realty. 

Class of 1968

Roger Aldridge of Olney, MD, had his guitar piece “Donut Music” recorded on the CD All We Know Is Now by Keith Calmes.

Class of 1971

Gabriel Heiser (aka Gabe Hizer) of Antioch, TN, started a new band called Zen Poets. Visit 

Class of 1973

BJ Snowden of Billerica, MA, had her song “In Canada” performed by the Suspects for the soundtrack of the film The Misadventures of the Dunderheads, which aired on the Starz channel in November. 

Class of 1974

In February, Ken Hatfield of Astoria, NY, will release the album For Langston, a song cycle based on the poems of Langston Hughes. Visit 

Class of 1975

Jeannie Deva (formerly Lieberman) recently published her third book, Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances, using e-Book technology. 

Visual artist Roberta Fabiano of Stony Brook, NY, displayed her art work as an installation at the Cutting Room in New York City. Visit

David Frank of Topanga, CA, and Mic Murphy comprise the duo the System. They will soon release a new album entitled System Overload. Visit 

Robert Parr of Argyle, TX, is in preproduction for “Live In The Vineyard,” a broadcast of performances from Alanis Morissette, Adam Lambert, and others. He also worked with Martin Harley, Black Sky, and Russ Hewitt, and he recently opened the recording studio called the B Room. 

Nika Rejto of Lafayette, CA, released the vocal CD Little Wizdoms. Visit 

Class of 1976

Mark Fitzpatrick of Port Charlotte, FL, published the book Guitar for Two Hands, an instruction book for left- and right-handed players. Visit 

Rick Smith of Concord, CA, built a project studio called Liberty Hill Studios  and will release new music in 2013.  

Class of 1977

Roger Gamache of Mashpee, MA, is the director of the big band Stage Door Canteen. Twelve members throughout the band’s history have been Berklee alumni. Visit 

Saxophonist Harrison Goldberg of Gualala, CA, and his group Lavender Fog released the double CD Landscape of a Dream. Visit 

Bob Miller of Rochester, NY, and his group Nimrod Wildfire released the album Corporate Refugee, featuring guitarist Matt Backer ’80. Visit 

Class of 1978

In October, saxophonist Ken Field of Cambridge, MA, performed Erik Lindgren’s Extreme Spirituals with the Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Field’s latest CD was released in November. Visit

Bob Sinicrope of Milton, MA, is the president-elect of the Jazz Education Network. He is in his 40th year at Milton Academy. 

Class of 1979

Jon Catler of New York City, released the album Footsteps with the Fretless Brothers. He also released an album with Willie McBlind called Live Long Day. Visit 

Drummer Pascoal Meirelles of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, released his 11th solo album Dubai-Lima Guitar Project

Class of 1980

Saxophonist and composer Frank Macchia of Burbank, CA, and his band Swamp Thing released their second album, Fried Zombie Stew. For more information, visit

Saxophonist Claire Daly of New York City released the CD Baritone Monk with support from the North Coast Brewing Co. All proceeds will benefit the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.  Daly has also been touring with her quartet and keeping a busy teaching schedule. 

Class of 1981

Saxophonist Ray Boyland of Lawrenceville, GA, plays regularly with his jazz group the Boyland Point and is working on a new CD. Visit 

In October 2012, percussionist Lilian Carmona of São Paulo, Brazil, gave a clinic on Brazilian grooves at Berklee. 

Jeffrey Izzo of Seattle, WA, is an assistant professor of music industry studies at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. He is composing a score for the university’s production of Mother Courage and Her Children

Kim MacRae of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, performed her poem “The Consequences of Going to Michael’s Pub on June 16, 1978” at Thin Air, as part of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. 

Guitarist Stan Munslow of Coventry, RI, published the book Getting Good, Getting Great: What the Best Players Know, with Oaklight Publishing. 

Glenn Ochenkoski of Burbank, CA, is touring with canto-pop singer Jenny Tseng. He appears as a drummer in the movie Atlas Shrugged II

Saxophonist Scott Robinson of Teaneck, NJ, and his label ScienSonic Laboratories, have partnered with the Space Foundation, which recognizes products that use space technology, or those that enlighten and inspire with space-related themes. He also released the album Bronze Nemesis. Visit 

In August 2012, Beth Sass of Nashville, TN, released the album Knowing Me, coproduced with Jerry Kimbrough. 

James Stewart of Wilmington, DE, released his third album, Sky Blue. Visit 

Class of 1983

Steve Thomas of Concord, MA, worked with composer Shawn K. Clement ’88 on music for the movie Live Forever: A Ray Bradbury Odyssey

Class of 1984

Page Hundemer of Corvallis, OR, released Double Stops, a CD of original compositions performed on solo bass guitar. Visit 

Class of 1985

Pengbian Sang of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, worked on the album Retro Jazz, featuring jazz, bossa nova, and funk versions of 12 iconic songs from the Dominican Republic. The album also featured work by Dan Cantor, Jonathan Wyner, and Federico Mendez ’00.  

Scott Schroen of Alpharetta, GA, and his Frank Zappa tribute act Ugly Radio Rebellion, released two DVDs and gave a Zappa clinic at ROCKU. His article “Zappa Survivor” was published in the European Online Music magazine. 

Class of 1986

Saxophonist Tommy Smith of Larkhall, Scotland, released the album Karma, named best album in the 2012 Scottish Jazz Awards. Visit 

On October 8, Michéal Castaldo of New York, NY, performed his single “Pray’r” live on television in Manhattan’s Columbus Day Parade. Visit 

Kevin Kastning of Groton, MA, released an album with Mark Wingfield titled An Illustrated Silence. Visit 

Class of 1987

Bassist Terje Gewelt of Oslo, Norway, released the CD Spindrift, his 10th release on Resonant Music. Visit 

Class of 1988

In September, Torben Waldorff of Malmö, Sweden, released the album Wah-Wah. It features Gary Versace (keys), Matt Clohesy (bass), and Jon Wikan (drums). 

Class of 1989

Angela Wiggins of Honolulu, HI, is performing regularly with her Latin jazz group.

Class of 1990

Saxophonist Stefan Cohen of Berkeley, CA, is a chiropractor and operates a wellness studio with his wife. He plays in the Grove Valve Orchestra, which won first place in the Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands, and he took the prize in the best horns category. 

Cellist and vocalist Martha Colby of Yellowstone National Park, WY, is a house musician at Old Faithful in Yellowstone. She is also a member of the Lake String Quartet and made her debut as an orchestral soloist in Middletown, NY. Visit 

Composer Louis King of New York City has received several awards for his jingle music, including a Clio Award and a London International Award for Best Soundtrack for a commercial. Visit

Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff of Chatsworth, CA, released the book Tearing Down the Wall: The Contemporary Guide to Decoding Pink Floyd—The Wall One Brick at a Time

Veronica Petrucci of Franklin, TN, had her song “Hope” featured in the film Unconditional, starring Lynn Collins and Michael Ealy. Visit 

Jesse Williams of Arlington, MA, has been performing with a variety of acts including Boston and Jonathan Edwards among others. 

Class of 1992

In December, bassist Bryan Beller of Nashville, TN, and the Aristocrats released the CD/DVD Boing, We’ll Do It Live! The Aristocrats at Alvas Showroom

Ben Klinger of Kent, WA, published the book Why We Play: A Guide to Finding the Right Piano. For more information visit 

Class of 1993

Anne Marie David of Natick, MA, released the solo piano CD Snow on Snow, an album of Christmas music. Visit

In September Roy Shakked, of Silver Lake, CA, under the moniker Holmes, released the album Complication Simplified. Visit 

Class of 1994

Saxophonist Oscar Feldman of New York City released his debut album, Oscar e Familia. He also plays with Berklee faculty member Dave Samuels and his Caribbean Jazz Project. Visit 

Alfredo Villela of Marblehead, MA, released the CD Detachment, an album of shamanic music created to assist those seeking to quit addictive or destructive behaviors. Blending old and new instrumentation, Villela plays pre-Hispanic Mexican instruments as well as synthesziers.

Class of 1995

Walter Gross, of Brooklyn, NY, EMI Music’s senior director of digital marketing, announced Blue Note Records’ new Spotify App.  

Pianist Paulo Tozzi of São Paulo, Brazil, has released two albums: a CD of duos and trios and a solo piano CD. 

Class of 1996

Bleu of Los Angeles, CA, completed a successful PledgeMusic campaign to fund his fifth album To Hell with You

Julián Graciano of Buenos Aires, Argentina, released the CD Caminos with his Tango En Tres trio. 

Stefan Redtenbacher of Hampshire, England, and his group Redtenhbacher’s Funkestra released the album A Very Funky Christmas. Visit 

Erik Steigen of Santa Monica, CA, launched a music and media company, USA Media Rights Inc. Visit 

Class of 1997

Ayala Asherov Kalus of Charleston, SC, received a grant from the South Carolina Film Commission. She is working on an animated short with the College of Charleston Orchestra. Visit 

JC Monterrosa of Murfreesboro, TN, and JJ Brown released the song “Say A Little Prayer.” Proceeds from downloads of the song will benefit the Hugs Project, which helps overseas military personnel. Visit 

Brian Satterwhite of Austin, TX, scored the film Man on a Mission, and was commissioned to score two silent films, A Sailor-Made Man and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Visit

Bassist Ben Zwerin of Brooklyn, NY, worked on albums by Daisy Jopling, and LIONZ featuring Lionel Loueke ’00 and Yuval Lion ’96. He appeared in Bass Musician magazine, and recorded “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” for the film The Man With The Iron Fists

Class of 1998

Sheryl Cohen of Brooklyn, NY, and Chris Young received a Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Performance category for the Olivia Brown song “Everything Will Be Alright.” Visit 

Tim Huling’s piece “Demeter & Persephone” received a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category. Visit

Zoe Rahman won the Best Jazz Act Award at the 2012 Music of Black Origin Awards held in the United Kingdom. 

Class of 1999

George Kallis of Kingston upon Thames, England, wrote the music for the biopic Gagarin: First in Space. Visit

Knut Knutson of Berlin, Germany, scored music for the documentary Gold Rush Ghost Ships. He also played on Planet Rock featuring Ice-T, Chuck D., and Afrika Bambaataa. Visit 

Katie Miner Eckardt of Franklin, TN, released a Christmas album titled O Come, All Ye Faithful. Visit 

Pianist and songwriter Oli Rockberger of Brooklyn, NY, is planning a March release of his new album titled Old Habits. Rockberger has been working with several top musicians, including bassist Will Lee, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and songwriter James Maddock.

Tom Childs of Lansing, MI, completed a doctorate in composition and is a theory instructor at Interlochen Center For The Arts. 

Matt Cusson of Pittsfield, MA, released the EP It’s Christmas Time

Richard Furch of North Hollywood, CA, mixed and recorded Tyrese’s album Open Invitation. Its single “Stay” topped the Urban Contemporary chart and won in the Song of the Year category at the Soul Train Awards 2012. Furch also did mixing for Frank Ocean’s recording Nostalgia Ultra. Visit 

Class of 2000

Eric Maltz of Brooklyn, NY, released the album Retinae. Visit 

Benji Nichols of Decorah, IA, and his wife are in the fifth year of their startup, Inspire(d) Media. He recently mixed a show for Luciana Souza ’88, as well as events for the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns. Visit

Mike Papadopoulos of Chalkida, Greece, participated in George Kollias’s Intense Drumming II DVD. He is releasing his band’s second album, Cerebrum

Class of 2001

Darcie Nicole produced and arranged vocals for the song “All the Things That Lovers Do” by Derek Thompkins and Velvet Stylus. 

Class of 2002

Jon De Lucia of Brooklyn, NY, and his trio released the album titled Pieces, Vol. 1. Visit 

Jason Mendelson of Woodland Hills, CA, established Bass Strings Online, an online bass string shop. Visit 

Matt Moliti of Woodland Park, NJ, released his third album with Dark Empire, From Refuge to Ruin, and endorses Vigier Guitars. He is an instructor and the show director for School of Rock in Chatham, NJ. 

Class of 2003

Kizzy McHugh of Rotterdam, Netherlands, is a TV host, actress, singer, and songwriter. Her new album, Unspoken Rhyme, was produced by Robert Jansen and Piet Souer. Visit 

Luis Santiago-Sierra is the commanding officer of the 319th Army Reserve Band in New York. He composed and produced a Christmas CD for the Puerto Rico National Guard Language Center and composed music for Nadine Martinez for “Gris,” presented at the Wave Rising Series. 

Travis Vance of Nashville, TN, was the bassist and bandleader on tour with Thomas Rhett, opening for Jason Aldean. 

Class of 2004

Singer-songwriter Rebecca Loebe of Austin, TX, released the album Circus Heart. She also performed at Berklee’s Café 939. Visit 

Steve Gregory of Stafford Springs, CT, released the album River to the Sea. It features Jon Francis ’99 on drums. Proceeds from downloads will go to the Connecticut Food Bank and Love146 charities. Visit

Asuka Kakitani of Brooklyn, NY, released her debut album Bloom, featuring an 18-piece orchestra. Visit for more information. 

Class of 2005

Khari Allen Lee of Auburn, AL, and the New Creative Collective, released the album Conscious Evolution. The group held the Concert for Our Conscious Evolution, a celebration of the birthday of John Coltrane. Visit 

Roy Assaf of New York City has released the album Respect. He played with the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, Russia. He has worked with Winard Harper, in addition to many other musicians. Visit 

Jim Briggs of North Hollywood, CA, scored and played guitar for the short documentary Mr. Christmas. The film received awards at film festivals in the United States and Canada. The session was engineered by Andrew Maltese ’08, and featured Berklee alumni Neara Russell ’10, Sean Rainey ’05, Andy Keathley ’08, Matt Bruer ’08, and Evan Winsor ’09.

Chris Parris of Boston, MA, is the director of the College Success Academy of the Steppingstone Foundation in Boston, MA. Visit 

Tom Roslak of New York City is touring with alumni Tony and Mike Beliveau of Crash Kings, in support of the Stone Temple Pilots. 

Class of 2006

In October, Laura Brunner of Union City, NJ, was the first runner-up in the eighth Jazzmobile Vocal Competition in Harlem, New York City. Visit 

Aurelien Budynek of Astoria, NY, performed The Music of Queen: Rock & Symphonic Spectacular with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks in Denver. He is the guitarist and musical director for the Dan Band and has been a guitar sub for the Broadway shows Rock of Ages and Book of Mormon


Giovanni Rotondo of Naples, Italy, helped lead an international film music workshop at the National School of Cinema in Italy. Ennio Morricone was the art director of the class. Visit 

Robert Vega of Chicago, IL, won a People magazine Teacher of the Year award. He is the band director at Rauner College Prep in Chicago. His school’s band placed fifth at Berklee’s High School Jazz Festival.  

Brianne “Brie” Widaman of Los Angeles, CA, was recently promoted to associate marketing manager at Interscope Geffen A&M Records (Universal Music Group). She has worked such acts as Madonna, Lifehouse, and others.

Yuko Yamamura of Queens, NY, won the grand prize in the Jazz category of the 2012 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her song “Rove Over.” She also released the album Ajarria, which won an award at the Japan Arts Matsuri (JAM) festival. 

Class of 2007

Alexis Grapsas of Los Angeles, CA, produced the album Diary of Dreams by Stavros Lantsias ’90. It features the La Camerata Athens String Orchestra, Peter Erskine on drums, and Lars Danielsson on bass. 

Eli Harrison of Novato, CA, released the album lovefreedommelody. Visit 

Myoung Nam of Kyonggido, South Korea, is finishing his Ph.D. program at Seoul National University. 

Motoki Tanaka of Brighton, MA, is the conductor and artistic director of the Boston String Players. In October, the group produced a multimedia event titled “From Bach to Bjork” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston Visit 

Class of 2008

Christian Colabelli of Tinton Falls, NJ, and his band Boy Meets Machine, were on WRAT radio, and their album War Horn was featured in Alternative Press, Absolute Punk, and Guitar World magazines. He also plays with Dark Empire and Johnny Drama. Visit 

Singer Amy Heidemann of Burbank, CA, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine’s online edition as the winner of its Women Who Rock contest. She and Nick Noonan form the duo Karmin. 

Enrique Lara of Los Angeles, CA, has played drums for American Idol’s Casey Abrams. He also works with his brother Miguel Lara ’07 and Wes Switzer ’07. Visit 

Hiromi Suda of Woodside, NY, released the album Sou. Visit 

Keiko Ueda (aka Keiko Shiga) of Kumamoto, Japan, worked on music for the film Our Night Is Not Long. It was nominated at the Tokyo International Film Festival. Visit 

Class of 2009

Alexandra Hampton (aka Aandra) of Farmingdale, NJ, has written cues for Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey, ABC’s 20/20, and other shows. In 2012 she released the album Origin, and will release another this year. Visit 

Ivonne Hernandez of Brookline, MA, and her group the Fretless, won in the Instrumental Group of the Year and Ensemble of the Year categories at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. 

Joshua Turner of Snohomish, WA, leads the project Eyes to Earth, which released the Digital Love EP in 2012.  

Class of 2010

KTG Sang Hyun Park released the self-titled album KTG Sang Hyun Park in September 2012. It features faculty members David Fiuczynski and Mark Walker, plus many alumni performers. 

Wayne Potash of Easton, MA, released the album Yes!, featuring Berklee Associate Professor Alizon Lissance and Len Rabinowitz ’77. Visit 

Neara Russell of Hollywood, CA, is a keyboardist/backup vocalist with Bridgit Mendler and played piano in the soundtrack for the independent film Mr. Christmas, scored by Jim Briggs ’05.

Ayumi Ueda of Tokyo, Japan, Giorgia Renosto ’09, Annette Philip ’09, and others are part of the vocal group Women Of The World. They recently toured Japan and performed at the 2012 Beantown Jazz Festival. In the summer of 2013, they will tour Europe and return to tour Japan. For a full list of alumnae in the group, visit 

Class of 2011

Bryan Laurier of Turner, ME, produced and mixed Bryan Laurier & the Lost Acres: Bought & Sold, featuring a number of alumni serving as engineers and performers. Visit 

Guitarist Sam Moss of Brattleboro, VT, won a MacDowell Colony fellowship where he composed music for the solo album The Tempest May Howl. He curated the compilation album Imaginational Anthem Volume Five. He has also toured and recorded with the Howling Kettles, who released two albums in 2012. 

Trombonist Brian Paulding of Jamaica Plain, MA, recorded with Akhil Gopal ’12 and Leon Cotter on the album People Hear What They See by Oddisee. Visit 

Nick Suda of Renton, WA, released the album Mixed Metaphors under the artist name Cloud Canvas. Visit 

Class of 2012

Luiz Fernando Costa e Silva (aka Nando Costa) of Juiz de Fora, Brazil, is head engineer for the Versão Acústica Studio in São João Nepomuceno, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The studio launched the label Versão Acústica in partnership with Sony Music Brazil. Visit