Alumnus JJ McGuigan hopes to help others through songwriting

Jan 19, 2017
Electric Guitar Player

JJ McGuigan was born in Wichita and graduated from Newman University in 2005 with a degree in Secondary Education. While at Newman he played basketball, which became an important part of his life. Before basketball, McGuigan received a drum set at age 13 which sparked his passion for music. He would come to find that basketball and music would go hand-in-hand to play a pivotal role in his life.

McGuigan would come to find that basketball and music would go hand-in-hand to play a pivotal role in his life.

According to McGuigan’s website, he was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression at age 16. He found basketball to be a beneficial tool that provided him with confidence in overcoming his disorders. He explained he found help in Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Potter, who also dealt with depression.

Potter and McGuigan supported each other during McGuigan’s time playing basketball at Newman and he still currently volunteers as the team’s assistant coach. During his basketball career, he also found a solace in music. McGuigan said, “Music helped me get out of depression almost equal to that of basketball.”

JJ McGuigan
JJ McGuigan

At the age of 20, McGuigan began writing song lyrics to reach people who might be undergoing the problems he faced. “I am constantly trying to find new ways of not only helping myself to heal each day, but to try and see if I can help someone else as well, and music plays a big part in doing both I believe,” said McGuigan.

Recently, McGuigan was a finalist for VH1’s “Save The Music” which, according to their site, is “a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that music instruction is a core component to a complete education, giving children the tools and confidence to excel in academics and in life.” The foundation’s statement aligns exactly with McGuigan’s aspirations of introducing music and meaningful lyrics to someone in need, whether that be a teenager or adult.

In September 2016, MTS Management Group signed McGuigan, which has been a big stepping stone in his career. He said the group will help him build a resume in the hope that a music publishing company will be more likely take a chance on him and his songs.

His songs “Letter” and “In All Honesty” reached number 14 on Sort Hits Top 100 Christian songs. McGuigan said those songs aren’t necessarily Christian songs but have spiritual themes and they tested well with the Christian audience. His main musical style is alternative rock.

Currently, McGuigan is writing with Brian Elwick and the two have completed five songs together. McGuigan already has a five-song EP available for purchase, but he is going to record and release a new EP to have a total of 10 original songs, which he hopes to pitch for big-name artists to record and reach a wider audience.

Right now, his songs are written for the guitar but he is teaching himself the keyboard to be able to write music for more instruments. He said he hopes his music will touch people on an emotional level, positively impact them, and do what music has done for him by helping him find confidence in overcoming his problems.

McGuigan’s EP, Dissociative, is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other major online music retailers.