In competition with 48,000 competitors, Swedish Christian songwriter Mats Dernánd has made it to the final in the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition in the "pop" category with his song 'She's Called Grace'. In fact, he reported his song to the "wrong" category, but he still reached the final.
"It feels unreal that they have chosen my song from so many contributions", admitted Mas. "I thought I registered my song for "Gospel / Inspirational" but apparently went to the final in the 'pop' category."
The USA Songwriting Competition calls itself "the world's leading songwriting competition". Despite its name it features songwriters from all over the world. This year 48,000 songwriters chose to participate. One of them is the Christian Swedish unsigned songwriter Mats Dernánd who submitted his song 'She's Called Grace'.
"I saw ads on social media and thought it might be fun to sign up", he says. "I did but didn't think much of it then. It was fortunate that I had no idea how many people lined up in the competition. Otherwise I would have never sent it in."
In fact, Mats missed that he went to the final. When the organizer sent out an email and announced who the finalists were, Mats missed his name. "Initially, I probably did not have such high hopes that I would go on in a big American songwriting competition", says Mats. "And when I looked through the finalists, I looked in the wrong category. I had apparently sent in to the pop class. As I recalled, I had sent in the "Gospel / Inspirational" class, for songs with Christian lyrics, which 'She's Called Grace is'. Spontaneously it feels harder to move on in the broad pop category."
It was when the competition team wanted to know who wrote the song that Mats eventually understood that he went to the final. "I told them that I wrote both the lyrics and music and wondered why they asked". Why? "Because you are a finalist, Congratulations!" was the answer.
"I then found out that my song was selected in a competition with 48,000 others. It is hard to imagine that an American jury has picked out the song the song I knotted together at home by the piano from such a gigantic pile of contributions. I'm of course glad that my text about God's grace did not become an obstacle."
In total, awards are presented in 15 categories - hip-hop, rock, folk, jazz, R&B and so on. The winner of the entire competition brings home a prize worth $50,000. "I have no real hopes of winning", says Mats. "Man I'm an unknown and unsigned songwriter, so it's a lot of fun with a little encouragement for something I spend a lot of my spare time on."