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Shunzo Ohno, Trumpeter Wins Grand Prize: International Songwriting Competition

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Shunzo Ohno First time in the history of the International Songwriting Competitions Jazz Artist wins Grand Prize

Shunzo Ohno Is Awarded Overall Grand Prize With The Song “Musashi”


ISC’s highest distinction, the overall Grand Prize, is awarded to trumpeter Shunzo Ohno for his song “Musashi,” entered in the Jazz category. This is the first time in the history of ISC that the Grand Prize has been awarded to a an artist from Japan. It is also the first time that the prize has been awarded in the Jazz category. Ohno was also honored with an Honorable Mention for his song “Okinawa” in the Instrumental category.

Winners were selected by a panel of Judges which included popular recording artists Imagine Dragons, Martina McBride, Joshua Redman, Josh Turner, Keane, Jon Secada, Dido, Garbage, Darryl McDaniels, James Cotton, Boney James, 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 many more.

“ISC provides a significant platform for artists to have their music heard in an international arena and encourages songwriters to create and develop their artistry,” stated Candace Avery, Founder and Director. “It is vital for all artists to be recognized for their talents and awarded the due respect for their accomplishments. This year we have awarded our highest honor, the ISC Grand Prize, to a Jazz artist, and we applaud the importance of this genre in our musical landscape. The recipient, Shunzo Ohno, greatly deserves this honor, and ISC is proud to bestow this award on him.”

Shunzo Ohno is a virtuosic jazz trumpeter and an accomplished composer and arranger. One of the leading jazz trumpeters in his native Japan by the age of 19, Ohno moved to New York City in 1974 to perform with jazz legend Art Blakey & The Messengers. Since then, he has performed and toured with many of the world’s greatest jazz artists, including Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Gil Evans, Larry Coryell, Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra, and many more. With numerous recordings under his own name as a leader, he has also appeared on over 30 more as a sideman and has collaborated on two Grammy winning recordings.

Ohno has been described as modest and seemingly shy, and he has overcome health challenges in his life that would have potentially ended any musician’s career, especially a trumpet player. Surviving both a serious car accident in which his teeth and lips were permanently damaged and a later bout of throat cancer which forced him to relearn his playing, he is a testament to determination and courage, even inspiring a biography and documentary in Japan about his life.

Ohno’s inspiration for the winning song came from a character in Japanese history, Musashi, who lived in the 1500-1600s. He was a writer, painter, and skilled swordsman who was undefeated. He was thought to be a deep thinker with an extreme sense of individuality and strength, and he traveled through the woods and mountains of Japan. Ohno says, “I wrote the song at a time in my life when a sense of courage was necessary. I was searching for that particular sense of courage, to be undefeated in the midst of what seemed impossible. I wanted to express that sense of being fearless in the midst of what may seem chaotic and unsupportive. I found in Musashi a pure vision of unique courage. It is my hope others might feel that sense of tenacious determination and courage – in an adventurous way to bring about hope."

Hudson Valley Jazz Festival: August 16th The Beanrunner presents Shunzo Ohno


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