Derrick White, '14

Graceland student Derrick White `14 plays his horn

Accomplishment: National Songwriting Competition Finalist
Major: Music
House: Closson

When Derrick White’s Graceland professor suggested that he enter a national songwriting competition, Derrick figured that it couldn’t hurt to try.

What Derrick didn’t figure was that he would end up being a finalist.

Derrick ’14 entered the MENC John Lennon National Songwriting Composition competition last winter after encouragement from Dr. Leonardo Lebas, GU Vocal Programs Director. Derrick, who calls himself more of a composer than a lyricist, worked with Angela Jenson ’13 to put together a piece they titled “Reality”. Angela and Tommy Ratkiewicz ’13 performed the vocals for the piece. Last summer, Derrick found out that “Reality” was chosen as a finalist for the competition. This ranked Derrick and Angela’s piece as a top-70 entry.

“I was shocked that I was given this honor; especially when going up against students with much more compositional background than me,” said Derrick. “Though I was not selected as an award recipient of a cash prize amount, I was just honored to have been able to do as well as I did and to have lots of support from all my friends and family.”

"There are so many wonderful people here on campus and it is just a blessing that I get to spend time with them."

Derrick’s triumphs at Graceland don’t stop there. He founded the Graceland Brass Choir concert last fall. Derrick and eight other choir members made Christmas CDs, which they sold for $5 around campus. The Choir ended up making more than $500 through CD sales, which they plan to put towards purchasing more music for the ensemble.

“These accomplishments have honestly just left me speechless,” said Derrick.

Derrick is a Music major, getting certified to teach grades 5-12. After graduating he hopes to get a high school or middle school teaching job, focusing on instrumental music.

Derrick says that Graceland has given him opportunities to succeed, and greatly helped him with his accomplishments thus far.

“Without Graceland, I would not have been able to make any of these accomplishments become 'reality.' Instead, I created Reality and started something new.”

Division of Visual and Performing ArtsMusic