Bernard Ebb Songwriting Awards Judges

Grand Prize Jury

Christopher Dimond

Christopher Dimond, a New York-based playwright and lyricist, is best known for his work with composer Michael Kooman, with whom he received the 2013 Fred Ebb Award for excellence in musical theatre songwriting. The duo also won a 2010 Jonathan Larson Grant and were the first recipients of the Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award and the Samuel French Next Step Award. Additionally, Chris has won the Harold Adamson Award, the KC/ACTF Musical Theatre Award, and a NYFA Fellowship. Chris & Michael’s projects include The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, Orphie & the Book of Heroes, The Enlightenment of Percival Von Schmootz, among others. Currently they serve as songwriters for Vampirina, an animated musical TV series airing on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior, reaching over 49 million viewers in 115 countries. Their most recent musical, Romantics Anonymous, appeared at Shakespeare's Globe from October 2017 – January 2018, receiving rave reviews. Chris is a member of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP, and is a proud alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University. He and Michael founded the ASCAP Foundation Musical Theater Songwriting Project, a program dedicated to training young songwriters. Together they released their debut album, Out of Our Heads, in 2011, featuring an all-star lineup of Broadway performers.

Donnie Lewis

Born in Detroit and raised in Richmond, VA, Donnie Lewis, otherwise known as "Mad Skillz" was drawn to hip hop music at a young age. He was a standout English student and honed his rap skills, enrolling in local talent shows and seeking opportunities to share his craft. After seeing an ad in the back of The Source magazine in the mid-90s, Donnie responded to the ad, submitting a one minute acapella rap. He went on to win an opportunity to perform at the New Music Seminar in New York City. He finished second in a freestyle competition, but most importantly garnered the attention of Atlantic Records. Atlantic Records signed him and in 1996, his debut album From Where??? was released. After his stint with Atlantic Records he went on to work with Timbaland, appearing on albums including, Tim’s Bio and Indecent Proposal. Donnie also toured with Missy Elliott. He went on to find success as a “ghostwriter,” secretly penning tracks for well-known artists and eventually writing songs for P. Diddy and Will Smith, among others who remain unnamed. Donnie recorded six studio albums and in 2002 created his signature series, “Rap Up.” His “Rap Up” tracks have been heard around the country, including on Howard Stern’s radio show. He has also toured with DJ Jazzy Jeff and has again stepped back behind the turntables himself. Most recently he was named an artist-in-residence at the University of Richmond and co-taught a course on hip-hop, “Voices of Hip Hop in America” during the spring 2018 semester. 

 
Jenn Schott

Jenn Schott, Kansas-raised and Nashville-based, was surrounded by music while growing up and considers herself destined to have a career in the industry. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, she moved to Nashville to become a songwriter. Her aspirations were met with success and she has since had songs recorded by artists including Tim McGraw, The Eli Young Band, Gloriana, Jana Kramer, Lucy Hale, Billy Ray Cyrus and Lonestar. Jenn co-wrote Mickey Guyton’s debut single, “Better Than You Left Me,” which was named one of Billboard’s 10 Best Country Songs of 2015. She also penned the title track of Tim McGraw’s Grammy nominated album, “Two Lanes of Freedom,” which was the namesake of his 2013 summer tour. Jenn’s other radio singles include Restless Heart’s “Feel My Way To You,” Katie Armiger’s “Unseen,” Billy Ray Cyrus’ “A Good Day,” and pop artist Lucy Walsh’s “1882.” In addition to her success in the U.S. country market, Jenn has also had songs released by top-selling artists in Canada and Australia.

First Round Jury

  • Manny Arciniega, Instructor, Levine Music
  • Jennifer Cooper, Go-Diva! Productions Artistic Director/president, Vocalist, Instructor or Music, Voice, St. Mary's College of Maryland
  • David Cottrell, Music Industry Coordinator, Professor, James Madison University
  • Warren Freeman, Voice Instructor
  • Henrik Karlsson, Coordinator of Music Therapy, Howard University
  • Lea Morris, Songwriter, 2017 Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards Grand Prize Winner
  • P. Stephanie Nakasian, Recording Artist, Author, Instructor, Non-Classical Voice, University of Virginia
  • Golder O’Neill, Director of Music Production and Recording Technology, Shenandoah University
  • Sean Wilson, Site Director, Bach to Rock Bethesda
  • Dede Wyland, Bluegrass Musician, Voice Teacher and Coach