Students to showcase original songs

University of Miami songwriters will get a chance to perform in front of a panel of celebrity judges, “American Idol”-style.

Cat 5 Music Publishing’s fifth annual Songwriter Showcase will feature original music by the performers. “New Songs, New Voices” will take place Oct. 30 at Gusman Concert Hall. The competition features a prize of an opening slot for a Festival Miami performance and a guaranteed spot on ‘Cane Records’ annual “Breaking the Surface” album.

Founded in 2002, Cat 5 was the country’s first student-run university music publishing group. The organization sought to combine the two cornerstones of the music industry, song copyrights and sound recording copyrights. Originally, Cat 5 was only open to music business graduate students like Alex Alberti, the managing director of Cat 5, but now invites a wider range of participants.

“I have a strong performance background,” Alberti said. “But this was an opportunity for me to marry my creative talents with a more structured understanding of how the music industry really works.”

To participate in Cat 5’s Songwriter Showcase, aspiring artists had to upload original songs to Cat 5’s website to be judged by their nine creative directors.  The songs were judged on a scale of one to 10. The submissions with the best overall scores were invited to perform at the showcase in front of an audience including musically-renowned judges.

This year’s panel of judges includes Grammy-winning UM alumnus Jon Secada, Emmy-winning composer and arranger Chris Boardman, and Cris Zalles, an American Society of Composers Authors and Performers’ Songwriter of the Year winner.

The showcase winner will open for Secada on Nov. 3 at his performance with the Frost School of Music during Festival Miami.

Jessica Nolan and Adam Grossman, who won second place last year as well as the title of “Audience Favorite,” said the experience is as important as winning.

“It was the first time I’d been rewarded for doing something I really love,” said Grossman, a media writing and production major. “And it validated what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Nolan, a music business major who  is the other half of the band “Jess & Adam,” said the contest also brought them together.

“The showcase was validation that we did write a good song,” he said. “And that’s what brought us to be a band today.”

David Lukens, a senior majoring in music business, has participated in the showcase for four years. He also hopes to make it in the music industry.

“There’s no harm in trying,” he said. “Whatever you have creatively to offer is bound to be good.”