Lee News

Johnson and Newsome Receive DownBeat Awards


Two Lee University students, Victor Johnson and Jay Newsome, recently received the DownBeat Student Music Award.

DownBeat Magazine is known as the “granddaddy” of American music magazines and covers the world of jazz, blues, and more. The DownBeat Student Music awards, established in 1976, are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education.

Victor Johnson Wins Award
Victor Johnson

Victor Johnson, senior digital media major, received the award as the blues pop-rock soloist winner for playing his original compositions on electric bass guitar.

“I am most humbled and honored to have been chosen as the winner of the DownBeat Music Award,” said Johnson. “This definitely came as a huge surprise to me that my mentor, Dr. José Ruiz, had entered my material into the competition. This is such a blessing and humbling privilege because this award serves as confirmation to my choice of career path [music], which is something I have been praying about for a long time.”

Jay Newsome performs
Jay Newsome

Jay Newsome, senior music business major, received the award for his studio engineer recording on his upcoming album, “My Heart.”

“Before attending Lee University and studying under Dr. José Valentino Ruiz, I did not know much about DownBeat Magazine,” said Newsome. “Upon receiving this award, I was not only ecstatic, I was shocked at the fact that the music for my upcoming album was chosen! I am beyond grateful to represent my school and my professors with this award.”

Submissions for the DownBeat Student Music Awards were sent anonymously as audio files. Both Johnson and Newsome learned of their awards via email and will be sent a plaque of honor, in addition to being featured in the June issue of DownBeat Magazine.

“These students are starting a new trend we hope to continue,” said Ruiz, assistant professor of music business at Lee. “I seek to help students become career-focused creative professionals with a passionate desire to use their skills for the kingdom of God. They are leaving an open avenue for other students to be encouraged to take their talent to the next level.”

For more information about the DownBeat Student Music Awards, visit www.downbeat.com or contact Ruiz at jruiz@leeuniversity.edu.
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