Finish an Exam Early? Why Not Write a Song?

Competition judges like HPHS sophomore Madi Furgeson’s results

When Highland Park High School sophomore Madi Furgeson had an extra 20 minutes after she finished her Spanish test, she used the time to write a song based on the lyric running through her head: “You used to want to know the true me, but these days it’s like you never knew me.”

A melody came together after 20 minutes of strumming around on her guitar after school. Furgeson loved the song, which she titled “I Don’t Even Miss You,” and decided to submit it to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass ‘Share Your Voice’ Songwriting Competition.

Jazz Aspen’s judges loved “I Don’t Even Miss You,” too. They named Furgeson runner-up in the competition’s high school division, which last year attracted young songwriters from around the country and Canada. The three-judge panel praised the song’s story, and Madi’s voice and guitar work. They commented that “(the song) hangs together in every way, musically and lyrically.”

Jazz Aspen Snowmass was the first industry songwriting competition she’s ever entered, Furgeson said, though now she’ll probably enter more. But she’s known she wanted to be a songwriter since she was about 5 years old.

Furgeson started songwriting more seriously when she was about 11 and got hooked when she received a guitar for her 12th birthday. Now, she said, she’s “addicted” to songwriting. “It became something I needed to do, every single day.”

She writes continuously in her head while she’s at school and quickly jots down the lyrics, often on her hands or legs. Furgeson carves out more time for working on songs when she gets home. Most of her compositions are country music, and she draws inspiration from Taylor Swift and Megan Moroney.

About 95% of the time, Furgeson’s songs are based on her personal life. Sometimes, she writes instead about people she meets, books she reads, or TV shows she watches. “I Don’t Even Miss You” tells a story that she created in her head. 

Some songs come together in 20 minutes, while others can take days or weeks to write. But when someone tells Ferguson that they loved or connected with her song, she said it’s “the greatest feeling on Earth.”

“Every person has their one thing, and I’m just so thankful that this is my thing,” she said. “Because I just love it so much.”

Furgeson said she hopes to one day have a career as a songwriter, and maybe even win a Grammy award. It will help that she works hard and is never afraid to ask for help when she needs it. 

“There have been hundreds of people who’ve told me I can’t do it. And I just keep trying. You’ve just got to really believe in yourself,” she said. “If it’s what you love, you’ve just got to keep what you know, and not listen to anybody else.”

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