The moment Drew heard his music being played live for the first time - This was his dream
Drew Shearin was 12 years old and it was Christmas morning. He was hoping and praying that there was an electric guitar hidden somewhere in the house because he didn't see any sign of a package that looked even close to resembling a guitar under the tree.
The months leading up to Christmas morning had been filled with pleadings for a guitar from his parents, but he know that with the large combined Johnson/Shearin family this special request could be out of reach. Just a few months earlier Drew took up the French horn and loved it, but felt he could express his musical thoughts through an electric guitar and share what was going on in his head with everyone. He also knew that the video game Guitar Hero had only whetted his appetite for the real thing. As the presents under the tree were becoming less, he tried not to let his anxiety show until there was just one more gift for him to open. It was a dreaded cloths box. He put on his best forced smile and opened the package, but it wasn't cloths, it was a guitar pick...just one little guitar pick. In his confusion he turned around to look at his mom and in her hands was a bright red electric guitar. Fighting back a tear (not cool when you are 12) a smile spread throughout the entire family.
In silence he put it in his hands. After getting the (dust) from his eyes and hugs to his mom Deb and stepdad Bryan he retreated to his room. In the first hour he was in and out of his room and back and forth between the computer and the guitar. Layer that morning he was performing a song for the whole family and in just a few days they heard the first piece of music he wrote titled, "The Storm Song". He told his family to "close your eyes and imagine clouds rumbling in the distance". As he played on, he asked them to continue to share in his musical vision, "now, imagine the storm building". That is all the family heard for months.
The guitar went everywhere with him as if it were attached to his hands. Little did his parent's know how much creativity that red Peavey electric guitar would bring out in Drew.
That was just the start of a desire to learn more instruments and in the 8th grade Drew started marching for the Knox High School Band. This led him to more instruments and love for music and composing. Drew's gift was growing fast. He wanted a piano, which he felt would help him in his musical compositions. So the family granted that wish with a used keyboard and Drew sought out a teacher to show him proper fingering technique. After the second piano lesson the piano teacher told his mom that drew was teaching him more than he was teaching Drew. Soon, music of all genres filled their home and they witnessed his music world come alive.
Drew's musical passion in high school continued and he was named Drum Major and performed in marching band, jazz and concert band, solo and ensemble performances, honors band as well as participating in school plays and musicals. But his ultimate dream was to hear a band play his music and perform his compositions. Drew brought a sample of his writing to one of his band directors, David Elliot, who led Drew to enter a piece of his music in the Indiana Music Educators Association's ( IMEA) "Composition Competition" in 2010. His concert piece "Uncertainty" won first place and he accepted his award in Fort Wayne in January 2011.
Dr. Judd Danby the IMEA Composition Competition Chair, had asked his own band to play the winning composition and in March of that same year, Drew and his family traveled to Lafayette Jefferson High School, where they attended the performance. Drew gave a speech thanking Dr. Danby, director Thomas Barker, the Lafayette Jefferson High School Band and all those who helped turn his dream into a reality. In 2011 Drew agin entered a piece of his music into the IMEA for the competition. He sent the final copy to Dr. Danby, and just a few days later, Drew's life on earth was taken. The piece titled, "The Sweetest Air Is Most Often the Thickest" won first place in the choral division of the competition.
On January 20, 2012 Drew's family and friends drove to the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne to accept the IMEA award and to hear Dr. Eric Stark direct the Butler University Chorale in a performance of "The Sweetest Air Is Most Often the Thickest." The church was filled with every emotion as Drew's mom, Deb Johnson, accepted the honor with gratitude for the gift of the Butler Chorale had given her and their family that day.
Those who knew Drew say it wasn't the music that made them love him, that was just a part of who he was. It was his warm laugh and smile, quick wit and drive to give of himself that made him a special person. He had a way of making everyone feel important and share their talents as well.
Drew's mom told him that he had gifts from God and if he chose not to use those gifts, God would give them to someone else. In every part of his life, Drew used those gifts and shared them beautifully.
The Johnson/Shearin families would like to give Drew's Gift to others through a fund they have created with the help of Northern Indiana Community Foundation. The Drew's Gift of Music and Stuff Fund will provide support and assist students in need to be able to play instrument and/or participate in cultural events.