It’s not every day you get a message on your cell phone telling you that you’ve won $5000 and a trip to Los Angeles. But for senior Jaide Fried, that’s exactly what happened the day she found out she won first place in the 2003 BMI Foundation’s John Lennon Scholarship competition.
Her song, “Love Me Tonight,” was written when Fried was 14 and thinking about her first crush. Throughout the years, it was recorded three times: first as a pop song, then as a rock version with a band and finally with just Fried and her piano.
Although “Love Me Tonight” had been entered in the contest in its previous forms, it was the final version that caught the attention of the judges.
“Her music is simple, yet deep and, most importantly, believable,” said Rey Sanchez, who served on the committee that picked Fried to represent UM at the national level. “At the end, the committee just had a gut feeling about Jaide’s song and this time we were right.”
Fried’s music, described by Professor Fred DeSena as a “kind of jazzy pop with a lot of heart,” places emphasis on both musical and lyrical content:
“You don’t have to worry ’cause you know I’ll be there/ wear something nice ’cause I love what you wear/ don’t worry ’bout the neighbors ’cause they don’t really care.”
Fried says she writes without a goal in mind, rather with a drive to experience the artistic journey that comes along with songwriting.
“When I’m finally finished it’s more heartfelt because it’s more about expressing something that is part of human nature and the human experience here on earth,” Fried said.
In addition to the scholarship, Fried was flown to Los Angeles with her mother and grandmother to attend the BMI Pop Music Awards held May 13.
Among those attending the ceremony were Vanessa Carlton, Nickelback, the writers and producers of Ja-Rule, and Barry Gordy, owner of Motown Records.
“Love Me Tonight” was played at the ceremony and Fried was honored onstage.
“The BMI foundation is dedicated to encouraging young and talented musicians that have not yet been exposed to the commercial music industry,” Ralph Jackson, president of the BMI foundation, said. “Jaide is a perfect example of that; all you have to do is meet her and you know that she has talent and success written all over her.”
As the first female to have won first place at UM for the particular competition, Fried is enthusiastic about the growing success of women in music, and excited about what the scholarship means for the industry.
“The industry is changing, and music is getting more sophisticated,” Fried said. “[The judges] chose the type of music that appeals to an audience more interested in lyrics that tell a story than just music that sets a groove and a feel.”
“It gives intellectual as well as emotional stimulation,” Fried said.
“When I first found out that I’d won the award, I was a little skeptical before I realized it was actually true,” Fried said. “To me, it’s an affirmation that songwriting is something I should be doing, something that I have a talent for and a gift that I should share with others.”
Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at n.Maldonado@umiami.edu