Dertrick Winn, Jr. is an aspiring music journalist with exceptional writing talent. From the young age of 13 he has worked as freelance journalist. Now at the age of 16, Dertrick currently writes as a freelance journalist for the Grammy Foundation. His story is inspiring as it shows how determination even at an early age can pave the way for a bright career. As the competition is fierce in any industry, to be successful takes courage and mastery in a certain skill. Find out how Dertrick has made it to where he is today, and see how you can apply his success to your own future.
Interview with Dertrick Winn, Jr.
Iain: What made you want to become a journalist?
Dertrick: I always knew I wanted to do something in the industry that involved music and writing. When the idea of music journalism was new in my mind, I had already had a lot of experience writing songs, but I knew I had skills as an editor and a technical writer as well. As I did more shows performing my music, I realized that it was easier to get into a show, especially behind the scenes, as a journalist than as an artist. After that, I started writing reviews for shows and filming events, and I began to love it. I figured it was another route for me to pursue to get my foot in the industry, just in case I couldn’t get in as an artist or a musician.
Iain: Can you tell us about how you got your first writing assignment?
Dertrick: My first official writing assignment as a journalist was when I was 13 years old in the 8th grade. I was in the choir throughout middle school, and in 8th grade I was eligible to run for an office position for the honors choir. I put together my campaign and ran for Choir Historian, and won. It wasn’t long after that I got my first writing assignment covering one of the school dances that the choir was sponsoring.
Iain: What are your hopes and dreams?
Dertrick: To inspire people all over the world to be the best of themselves through music, lyrics, art, words, success, and acts of selflessness. Also, to be recognized as one of the most talented artists, lyricists, songwriters, music journalists, and musicians of my generation.
Iain: Who would you like to interview?
Dertrick: Pharrell Williams. Growing up as a kid, I had a lot of trouble fitting in with other kids because I was into some different things, I was kind of a nerd, and being African-American, I was teased a lot for doing things that were considered “white” by the other black kids at my school. I was a skateboarder, I wore skater shoes, I loved Star Wars, I was taking Japanese, I listened to rock music, I was in choir, I loved to read and because of that I was very well spoken. You could say I was a thinker, I always had new ideas, but it was hard to express them to my peers who really didn’t understand me. Pharrell was one of the first music artists I could almost directly relate to. He showed me the best way to be cool is to be yourself, no matter how nerdy or different you might be to other people. Nowadays it seems like being nerdy is trendy and fly. I really don’t like that, because I remember being teased for my nerdiness. But it’s cool, because when I grew up I realized that all the real cool kids were nerds, and I was the coolest (laughing)..Anyway, Pharrell Williams is a big inspiration to me, I’d love to do an interview with him.
Iain: Do you have any tips for people looking to break into journalism?
Dertrick: Look for opportunities where you can learn about journalism and grow as a journalist. One way is taking journalism classes in middle school and high school and learn that way. I couldn’t take journalism in middle school because of the demand of my honors classes and electives and my schedule outside of school, so what I did was cover events around my school, in Austin my hometown, and my own events as a performer and wrote about them on a regular basis on my MySpace blog, and I updated it so regularly that I began to build a following, mainly of my friends, but still people were checking back regularly to see what I had to say about anything. The biggest opportunity I have had to date that really helped me launch my career as a journalist was getting accepted into Grammy Camp 2008 and then again in 2009 in the Music Journalism Career Track. Grammy Camp gives you so many exclusive opportunities to work with the industry s best. My participation with the Grammy Foundation is still opening doors for me. I have had regular opportunities as a journalist after Camp throughout the year, so I would definitely recommend Grammy Camp for any teen aspiring to any career in the Music industry. I would also say know how to find a story to cover. If you can’t find a story, you can create a story by finding anything interesting and writing about it. It’s convenient to write about things you like, but a big story might not always be something you like, so it’s good to practice writing about all kinds of things. But if you’re given an assignment that seems unjust or not you, don’t sell out. Keep a guilt-free conscience and write what’s real.
Dertrick’s previously recognized works include music journalism for Grammy Camp 2008 & 2009, the Grammy E-Team 2008 & 2009, and his review Grammy Camp 08: A Reflection, which was recognized by The Recording Academy in October 2008 and the Texas Chapter in December 2008.
Grammy Camp 08: A Reflection
Samples of work can be found at Grammy Camp blog