Vicksburg native places third in International Songwriting Competition

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Vicksburg native Zechariah Tillotson recently placed third in the Blues genre of the International Songwriting Competition with his song, “Hard Time Living.”

The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is an annual song contest. Amateur and professional songwriters from all over the world are invited to participate.

ISC has a star-studded panel of judges that includes Reba McEntire, Mariah Carey, Tom Waites, Shooter Jennings, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few.

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Following his win, Tillotson said it’s always an honor to be recognized for his work and added this fall fans can expect new music, as he plans to return to the studio over the summer.

“I’m pretty flattered to place third,” Tillotson said. “I think they said there were over 14,000 entries, so I was pretty flattered and excited to have made it into the top three.”

Tillotson said he has been writing songs on a regular basis since around 2013 and typically is able to devote more time to his music during the summer months. 

“I have a day job. I run a food business at Ole Miss. I kind of do music full time in the summer. As far as what is next, I’ve already got another song recorded and ready to release in the fall, and I’m going to do some recording at Blue Sky Studios in Jackson this summer. We’re going to try and get probably four or five more tunes done this summer. We’re debating whether or not a full-length album is what I should do next, as far as releasing, or if I should just continue to do the singles thing.”

Currently, Tillotson said he releases his music on digital platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, but added plans for a possible vinyl release have been discussed as well. 

As for his award-winning song, “Hard Time Living,” Tillotson said the lyrics are about both growing up and breaking into the music industry.

“It’s about growing up being told ‘Hey. If you just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, you’ll be fine.’ And kind of realizing, becoming a man and getting out on your own, that it’s not that simple sometimes,” he said. “It’s also kind of developed and it’s also kind of about the perception that people have about musicians. It’s actually a grind. It’s a lot harder to make a living playing music than most people think.”

Winners of the ISC receive cash, prizes, recognition and exposure.

Tillotson is the son of Jennifer and Jamie Tillotson of Vicksburg.

“Hard Time Living,” can be heard at