JJ McGuigan, acclaimed alt-rock guitarist and songwriter, recently released his powerful new single “Save My Life,” which draws from his own struggles with depression and other mental health issues.
“I wrote the song coming off the heels of struggling with my mental health,” the 2005 Newman University graduate and former basketball player, said. “It is about someone crying out for help and at their end.”
McGuigan explained that he’s struggled with his mental health since he was 16.
“Music has no less than saved me,” he said. “It’s my goal and dream to do for others what music has done for me.”
Some highlights from his journey as a musician include being nominated for a Josie Award — a large independent music award show located in Nashville — and surpassing 100,000 streams on Spotify.
McGuigan, whose passion for music began in earnest at the age of 13 when he picked up drumsticks, started on his path to becoming a songwriter right after he graduated from Newman.
“I entered VH1’s songwriting contest called Save the Music and finished as a finalist,” he shared. “This helped boost my confidence in pursuing it.”
For the next few years, he worked retail and saved up money to record his songs. In 2015, he released an EP called “Dissociative” which consisted of five songs, which led to his Josie Award nomination.
McGuigan recently launched another three-song EP titled “Time to Survive,” which is a heavier album than previously recorded songs.
Until two years ago, he also kept busy as a volunteer assistant basketball coach with the men’s basketball team at Newman.
“How that came about was my father was murdered in 2011, and Coach Mark Potter reached out to me extending an offer to be part of the team to help my healing process,” McGuigan shared. “I had played basketball at Newman from 2001 to 2005 and established a great relationship with him that has lasted.”
He added, “Coach Potter and Coach RJ Allen have helped me out tremendously, giving me support and friendship. My mother is my rock who has supported me my whole life, and my father as well, whom I’ve dedicated my music and gifts to do my best to serve others.”
Currently, McGuigan is in the process of writing a book that centers on bullying and mental health, further extending his mark and impact on the world.
For others who may be interested in pursuing a life of music, he shared this bit of advice:
“Do it because you love it and you need to do it. It can be a tough business to do well in, so be careful how you define your success.”