By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
The musical theater establishment just got another serious dose of cool. Yes, that was Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of the hip-hop-infused “Hamilton” at the recent Grammy Awards performing before a viewing audience of millions. And then, yes, that was Miranda accepting the Best Musical Theater Album award with a rap-styled speech.
This is pop culture relevance you can’t buy.
Which leads us to you, dear Dallas County high school student. Does Miranda inspire you? Or what about Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”)? Or is the late Jonathan Larson (“Rent”), the guru of contemporary musical theater, your favorite muse?
So here is your chance to win a trip to the Big Apple: High school students from Dallas County can showcase their songwriting talents and compete for the opportunity to be one of three finalists traveling to New York City in a new songwriting program that launched February 17, 2016. The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students is calling for Dallas County parents to encourage their high school students to upload their submission to www.arts.gov/songwriting between February 17 and April 4th, 2016.
Big Thought is working with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc., with additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group, to encourage high school students from Dallas County to submit a song – the music and lyrics – in any style, from Broadway-style to pop or rock, or Latin to country or rap, as long as it is part of a musical theater story. A local winner or winning team (one composer, one lyricist) from Dallas County will be selected from among three semi-finalists chosen by a local panel of judges hailing from the arts. Semi-finalists will be announced April 26, and the local winner will be announced May 17.
Here’s where it really gets interesting. In the summer of 2016, the winner or winning team from Dallas County will travel with one adult chaperone to New York City, all expenses paid, to take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn more about songwriting and sharpen their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, professional musicians and singers will perform the students’ original songs during a final competition with judges from the music and musical theater industry.
The national winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award, and each national runner-up will receive $2,500. Scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. In addition, Sony/ATV will publish the national winner’s song.
Excited yet? You should be, since Dallas is one of only three metropolitan areas participating in this inaugural contest. The other two are Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and Seattle and King County, WA.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Dallas County high school students to showcase their talents and learn from working professionals in the world of contemporary musical theater,” says Gigi Antoni, President and CEO, Big Thought. “This kind of creative exchange and real-world skill-building is priceless. Big Thought is so proud to be working with the NEA on this exciting songwriting challenge.”
For more information on The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students from a local angle, including exciting upcoming Dallas workshops and performances, check out songwriterchallenge.weebly.com.