TSU Grad Wins Top Prize In John Lennon Songwriting Contest

Last Updated on May 27, 2023

Brian "B-Phraze" Frazier, a 2015 John Lennon Songwriting Contest winner poses wearing red and white "unapologetic" gear.
Brian “B-Phraze” Frazier, Grand Prize Winner in the Hip-Hop Category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

When Brian Frazier wrote ‘#iBelieve’, he had no clue that his song would reach some of the best artists in the music industry. But with his faith background and love for hip hop music, this Tennessee State University graduate followed his dreams and became one of the top songwriters in the 2015 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

Growing Up In A Small Town

Brian was born and raised in Buchanan, Michigan, a small town with a close knit community. As the son of pastors, Brian’s religious background had a heavy influence on his music.

“That was my experience growing up but I liked it. It was a small town… [and] I think it kind of helped my creativity because we didn't have anything else to do but be creative.”

Although hip hop music was not allowed in his house, Brian looked for opportunities to express himself. While listening to artists like Snoop-Dog and Dr. Dre, Brian wrote songs about the people, hobbies, and places that shaped his identity.

Attending TSU

After going on a black college tour in high school, Brian decided to attend Tennessee State University. Moving from a predominately white town to a historically black college was eye opening experience, and it allowed Brian to find his path as a student and a musician. He eventually decided to study communication which he found ironic since he had to overcome a severe speech impediment as a child. He would continue to write off and on but after his sophomore year he was able to take his songwriting skills to the next level.

“It wasn't until my junior year in college where I got some software from my communications program and I started being able to record the songs that I would write. I was like, ‘Man, even if nobody hears me, if nobody likes my music, at least I don't have to listen to what's on the radio now. I can record something and go listen to it in my car.’ That was my whole purpose of writing at the time.”

Finding His Passion

When Brian graduated from TSU, he moved back to Michigan to work for a local television station. His family encouraged him to keep making music, and Brian started recording with other artists as B-Phraze while he worked on his own projects.

“I did my first CD 2004. I released my second & third CD’s in 2007 and 2010. I did a kid CD in 2012 just for school-aged children, dealing with issues like bullying, self-esteem, honesty, friendship, things of that nature. It's always been a part of me even though I might have taken breaks here and there. It's always been something that I've loved to do.”

With a growing fan base and the support of his family, Brian decided to pursue a music career. During the day he wrote and recorded songs, and at night he helped broadcast the news.

“I started as a studio technician and then they moved me just to the audio operator. I would do the audio for all the late night news, 5:00, 6:00, 10:00…I did that for two years and I left two years after to pursue music full-time.”

Entering The John Lennon Songwriting Contest

In 2005, Brian entered the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and to his surprise won runner up in the hip-hop category. 10 years later, after releasing multiple CDs and gaining a local audience, Brian entered one of his songs in the 2015 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. This time around his song ‘#iBelieve’ was named hip hop song of the year after first being selected by the judges, then receiving more votes than any other song in the hip hop category. With hundreds of applicants from around the world, Brian competed against other talented songwriters to win the grand prize.

“To get to the final round, it was just whoever got the most people out to vote…I just utilized social media, tapped into everybody back at TSU, my co-workers, associates, church members, and just kind of did some online campaigns to push the vote out.”

In May, Brian received the 2015 Lennon Award as the best songwriter in the hip hop category. ‘#iBelieve’ will be judged alongside songs from other genres to win Song Of The Year, the biggest prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. With a $20,000 cash prize and the chance to go on tour, Brian is looking forward to the final round of the competition.

“You got people like George Clinton and Fergie from Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, Sheila E [judging the competition]. They have a variety of judges from all different spectrums. I think that's pretty cool because you've got 12 different categories. It makes it kind of versatile.”

Brian is married to Monique Frazier, a Purdue University alum. They reside in South Bend, IN with their ten-year-old daughter Maylin. In his spare time, Brian also works as a freelance videographer and oversees the media department of his church. He enjoys traveling, biking and relaxing with friends and family.

Since embarking on this musical journey, he’s performed at colleges, juvenile centers, community events, and churches across the country, most notably headlining at the Megakidz Conference hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes. If you want to learn more about Brian’s music, find him on social media as @bphraze or at bphraze.com. Brian would like to use a portion of the proceeds from his award winning song to sponsor a HBCU college trip next April, so make sure you download #iBelieve on iTunes!

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