By KATHY SCHMUGGE
LEXINGTON — By winning the SAFE KIDS music contest for the S.C. Buckle up Campaign 2000, Josh Goering, a parishioner at Corpus Christi Church, will serenade his peers to safety with an original musical score he wrote and performed.
His piece, which he describes as “rock ‘n’ roll with a punky edge,” is currently being aired now through March 3 by the Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Spartanburg, Golden Strip and Charleston Cable Systems on popular TV stations such as FOX, MTV, and USA as part of an initiative to get youth to buckle up. The contest, sponsored by SAFE KIDS and the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), was open to all middle and high school students in the state.
Goering, now a freshman at the University of South Carolina in Columbia majoring in music composition/theory, entered the competition last year as a senior at Lexington High School. His band teacher who knew that Goering wrote music urged him to compete. Even though there was no monetary reward, Goering entered the contest, seeing the project as a worthy cause.
In June of last year, Goering and another teen were told that they tied for first place and both their songs would be aired as public service announcements (PSA) some time in the coming year. Kevin Fischer from Fischer Communications, a local advertising firm hired to help with production, was so impressed when he heard the winning selections that he suggested SAFE KIDS turn the PSAs into short commercials. The once small project grew and found public and private support from SCDPS, Duke Endowment and AnMED Health Systems in Anderson, organizations who donated money toward the commercials’ production and the purchase of significant airtime.
Ree Mallison, director of SAFE KIDS was especially impressed with Goering, describing him as a very mature youth with great talent. “When I spoke to him I could have just as well been speaking to someone in their 40s. He was so unassuming, yet such a genius,” she said.
When Mallison asked him why he chose the rock style of music for the contest, he said that he wanted to use a style that was popular with youth in South Carolina. Goering has some knowledge of what works since he plays lead guitar for a Columbia band called “Sinator” and is a volunteer disc jockey at WUSC, the university’s radio station.
His parents, Daniel and Lorelei Goering, also members at Corpus Christi Church, have been very supportive in Josh’s musical pursuits. They recalled how Josh, their youngest of 10 children, showed early signs of talent. While attending a small Catholic middle school in Nevada, Josh decided to try playing the music he loved. His parents suggested guitar since there was one in the house. Lorelei remembered how Josh amazed the family and teacher with his almost immediate proficiency with guitar and his ease in grasping musical theory.
“For the first three or four years, I felt as if I was the only kid in the world that played and listened to guitar music,” said Josh, recalling how it wasn’t until high school that he found others his age who shared his passion.
His extraordinary skill as a musician did not go unnoticed. While in high school, he was selected and attended a five-week program at Berklee School of Music in Boston. Upon graduation he was offered a full four-year scholarship to Berklee but turned it down in order to attend USC, where he received several small scholarships and some free instruction. At the university, Goering plays classical guitar, bass guitar, electronic drums and percussion, and the rare instrument called the “thermin” (an electronic box with two antennas responding to hand motions.)
When he completes his bachelor’s degree, Josh said he might continue on with his education and possibly become a music professor. He is well on his way as a teacher, presently giving guitar lessons to 26 students at Music Supply in Lexington. Due to his youth, he is especially popular with his younger students because he knows how to play and teach the music they love.
For Josh, the recognition by the state contest could lead him in the direction of composing more commercial spots and eventually writing musical scores for movies which is one of his goals. Although he said he did not see himself writing church music, he conveyed how his faith still impacted his work. For example he tries to write music that has meaning and a positive message likes his song “Buckle Up.”
Winning this contest has been a way for Josh to do profound good with his musical talent. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in South Carolina, and of the 121 youth who died in car accidents in 1999, 81 were not wearing seat belts. His refrain, “Buckle up, before you drive. Buckle up, and stay alive,” hopefully will save some young lives.