The 2013 International Songwriting Competition’s highest distinction, the Grand Prize, went to Japanese trumpeter Shunzo Ohno for his song “Musashi.” This is the first time in the 13-year history of ISC that the Grand Prize has been awarded to a songwriter in the jazz category. The International Songwriting Competition is widely recognized as the most prestigious and respected songwriting competition in the world. Jazz winners were selected by recording artists Joshua Redman and Boney James. Other category judges included Imagine Dragons, Martina McBride, Josh Turner, Keane, Jon Secada, Dido, Garbage, Darryl McDaniels, James Cotton, Jason Isbell, Anoushka Shankar, Monte Lipman (Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Republic Records), Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records), Alison Donald (Co-President, Columbia Records UK), and more.
Spanning five decades, Ohno’s fascinating career is a story of boundless talent and dogged determination, marked by seemingly insurmountable setbacks. He had a chance meeting with bandleader Art Blakey, who invited him on a tour with the Messengers in Japan. At Blakey’s suggestion, he moved to New York City in 1974 to pursue his dream. “When I told my mother and father in high school I was going to become a jazz musician, they said, ‘Oh God, a jazz musician! All they’re about is drinking, women and drugs. Forget it!’ ” recalls Ohno, who lives with his family in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City, in a recent interview with Kyodo News during his tour of Japan. “But I told my father, ‘I’m not that type of musician. I want to be a great, pure artist.’ ”
International Award Winning Shunzo Ohno is considered one of the most versatile and influential trumpeters of modern jazz. Born in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, Shunzo’s rise to prominence began in 1974, when he accepted an offer to perform with the legendary jazz drummer Art Blakey. Following his tenure with Blakey, Shunzo propelled with a series of important collaborations, including ones with Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra, Wayne Shorter, Larry Coryell, Herbie Hancock, and Gil Evans, who was a long-time collaborator of Shunzo’s. Shunzo has recorded 16 albums as a leader and has been featured on two Grammy winning recordings.