“It was crazy when we actually won,” said Justis Ward, acoustic guitarist and lead singer of Three17.
The 5-man-band took home $1,000 and the first place title of Mercer’s annual music competition on Cruz Plaza for the second time Saturday night. Three17 won the same competition in October 2016.
Three17’s members include Justis Ward, his roommate Matthew Harris as pianist, Harris’ brother Mark Harris as the electric bassist and friends Quinten Oppong on the drums and Earl Bushe on the electric guitar, who was absent on Saturday. Occasionally, junior Darice Cudjoe is a vocalist for performances, including Saturday’s.
The members of Three17 did not expect to win the Battle of the Bands competition for the second time.
“ I was thinking like maybe second place. Possibly third,” Harris said as Ward nodded in agreement.
“We weren’t students so we didn’t have the pull that we did last year and then also there were some really talented musicians there,” Harris said.
Three17 won the competition performing a worship set, contrasting the party style they decided to play for last year’s winning performance. Saturday’s winning act included three of the band’s original songs — “Prodigal Son,” “In Spite of It All” and “Give it All Away.”
“Then you just have people, random strangers, that we’ve never met on Cruz Plaza who are applauding and potentially voting for those same songs,” Ward said. “To know that they loved our music it kind of gives us a drive to want to record all the more and put it on YouTube, put it on Spotify.”
“I think (the win) had more significance than most people think,” Ward said.
In fact, they did not even expect to participate this year because only one of the band’s main members, Oppong, who is a senior, is currently enrolled at the university. The majority of members are Mercer alumni.
A fan discovered Three17 was still based in Macon after some of its members graduated. The student contacted them to perform at Battle of the Bands the week before the show because they heard the competition might have been lacking performers.
“We didn’t have the set down until the night before and even the day of we were still making changes but everything worked out well,” Ward said.
Although the band had a quick turn around to work out a performance for Saturday, they didn’t have to prepare much since Three17 performs several times a month on a regular basis for worship sessions, Harris said.
“A lot of the songs we kind of have down already,” Ward said. “As far as playing it, we didn’t really have to practice just because we do it so much all the time where we’ve got those songs at the back of our hands at this point.”
The band performs in the Connell Student Center for Friday night worship in conference room 2 at 8:30 p.m. up to twice a month. It usually draws in upwards of 60 people, Ward said, which he partially attributes to the band’s advertising on Instagram and the on campus performances.
Additionally, every other Sunday, Three17 hosts more intimate worship sessions that are usually comprised of about 25 people at Ward and Harris’s home at 7:00 p.m. These performances are not advertised, however, everyone is welcome, Ward said. The band plans on using a significant amount of the money from their winnings to go toward recording several songs in following months in order to have a new EP out for the New Year.
“I think it’s going to be cool to continue to see where we go. To know that we still have support from Mercer. Be on the lookout for our music,” Ward said.
Three17 has pages on on Facebook and Instagram at @Three17.band for fans who want to stay in touch with the band’s music.