Zach Cannella
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Zach Cannella

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"Former MCC student/songwriter wins national award"

The first time McHenry County College student Zach Cannella entered a music competition he ended up winning a national award. And he didn’t even really try for it.

About a year ago, Cannella, 19, of Crystal Lake, submitted a recording of his original song, “Blessing,” to Voices, MCC’s literary arts magazine; the magazine, in turn, submitted the piece to the Literary Magazine Awards competition held by the Community College Humanities Association.

Last month, Cannella won first place in the competition’s audio category. In the recording, he sings and plays the acoustic guitar.

“I was extra surprised,” he said. “I didn’t really expect anything because I didn’t know I was in it.”

Overall, about a dozen CDs with compositions by community college students from all over the country were submitted, said William Matter, a judge for the Community College Humanities Association who nominated Cannella’s song for the award. Matter is an English professor in the Dallas County Community Colleges District in Texas.

“I found it a haunting melody with a very professional arrangement,” Matter said. “Zachary’s composition exhibited a sophisticated sense of rhythm and structure that placed his work among the very best we received.”

Cannella was a student at MCC last year, then transferred to Roosevelt University in Chicago this fall to study music composition. He will transfer back to MCC next semester to devote his time to an internship with musician and composer Zack Uidl, of Huntley, he said.

Cannella began playing the guitar at 6, and writing songs as a sophomore in high school. Some of his music has Christian-based lyrics, he said.

“I like to write about things that most people can relate to, and also include a Christian idea through it,” he said.

He’s played in public a few times “just for fun” he says, including at area roller rinks, skate parks, school assemblies and open mic events at bookstores.

As for his future goals, Cannella says he’d love to compose music for films.

“Songwriting is something I really love doing, I’m really passionate about it. If this thing keep on building, it would be awesome.” - Suburban Chicago Daily Herald


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