Talon David, a teen singer/ songwriter, has been chosen as the winner of the seventh annual GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Teens Make Music Contest for her original interpretation of the importance of living above the influence of drug and alcohol use. Second- and third-place winners for the contest have also been chosen. The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, the two affiliated nonprofit organizations of The Recording Academy®, in collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Above the Influence campaign, will honor each contest winner in late January and early February with exclusive GRAMMY® experiences and prizes. The GRAMMY Foundation offers a range of GRAMMY in the Schools® music education programs for high school students, teachers and schools, along with archiving and preservation initiatives. MusiCares provides emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery resources to members of the music industry in need.
The contest asked young musicians, ages 14–18, to compose or create an original song and/or music video that celebrates life above the influence or brings attention to the real-life consequences of substance abuse.
“We are honored to partner with the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares to recognize these creative and talented teen musicians,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “We’re thrilled to recognize these individuals for shedding light on the realities of substance use disorders and what being above the influence of negative pressures means to them.”
“The Teens Make Music Contest is an engaging and effective mechanism that encourages young people to consider and give voice to the issues around substance abuse,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, the GRAMMY Foundation, and MusiCares. “The submissions are very compelling across the board, and they bring the challenges of addiction and the paths to recovery into focus.”
First-place winner David, a student at Davidson Academy in Nashville, Tenn., submitted “Deep Snow,” a song that metaphorically compares snow to addiction and focuses on how easily a person can drown in its depths. Yet there is hope as the lyrics reflect a cry for redemption: “Lay me down to rest. Alone in the deep snow. Feel the cool, the rush, the chill, the numb, the kiss of the deep snow. Flurries luring in their ear. Hold still. It will all be over soon. Swallowed up in emptiness. Left as bare as the surface of the moon. … Is it too late to fight it? Take me back. Save me from being buried alive, stolen from life.”
Second-place winner Renee Audrey is from Short Hills, N.J., and is a junior at Millburn High School. The lyrics for her song “Paralyzed” describe the life of an individual struggling with a substance abuse problem and details how Audrey hopes she could help the individual overcome her addiction: “Searching for solace at the bottom of a bottle. Using but losing to a fake gospel. Her bloodshot eyes make my eyes water. Her disguise in the skies, feels like paradise. But she’s para-para-paralyzed. Para-para-paralyzed. Para-para-paralyzed. Wish I had the antidote to guide her lifeboat. In these rough waters, it’s hard to stay afloat.”
Third-place winner Jarren Blair, a senior at Beech High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., submitted “Out Alive.” His song tells the story of someone with a drug or alcohol issue and how difficult that problem can be to overcome. The lyrics illustrate that, even in the midst of despair, faith in a higher power can help one rise above the negative influences: “I’ve seen trouble, I’ve seen pain. I’ve seen struggle for all my days. They say the devil is on his way to cut me open and steal my faith. I know it’s hard sometimes. I know it’s hard to find someone you like. I know it’s hard sometimes. I know it’s hard to smile through. I know it’s hard to smile through your life, but I’m singing. Oh, I’m saying. Oh, I’m praying. Oh, got my hands up to praise him. I know I’m gonna make it out alive.”
The first-place winner will receive two tickets to the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards® at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12, two tickets to the GRAMMY Celebration® after-party, a cash award of $500 provided by Visions Adolescent Treatment Center, and the opportunity to perform a set at the Acoustic Tent on the 2017 Vans Warped Tour in the city closest to their hometown. The second- and third-place winners will receive cash prizes of $250 and $100 respectively, both provided by Visions Adolescent Treatment Center. Each of the winners will have the opportunity to attend the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards backstage experience during rehearsals. Other prizes include two tickets to the GRAMMY Museum®, two tickets to any Vans Warped Tour show, gift bags, and more. All the winners will have their original compositions posted on the MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation’s websites, the Vans Warped Tour website and on drugfree.org this month.
MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation provided a panel of judges that included music industry professionals, while the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provided technical expertise in the judging process. Points were given for accurate depictions of subject matter.
About the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter’s substance use. We empower families with information, support and guidance to get the help their loved one needs and deserves. On our website, drugfree.org, and through our toll-free helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE), we provide families with direct support and guidance to help them address teen substance use. Finally, we build healthy communities, advocating for greater understanding and more effective programs to treat the disease of addiction. As a national nonprofit, we depend on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and are thankful to SAG-AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity. We are proud to receive aFour-Star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, as well as a National Accredited Charity Seal from the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
About the “Above the Influence” Campaign
Above the Influence (ATI) is a national program led by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that challenges youth, ages 12–17, to think critically about the adverse effects of drug and alcohol use and the potential negative influences surrounding them in their social and media environment. ATI connects directly with teens and local youth-serving organizations to deliver messages, activities and support to help teens stay “above the influence” of drugs, alcohol and risky behaviors. Multiple scientific findings indicate that teens who have increased exposure to and engagement with ATI have stronger anti-drug beliefs than teens with low exposure to the campaign.
About the GRAMMY Foundation
The GRAMMY Foundation was established in 1988 to cultivate the understanding, appreciation, and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through programs and activities that engage the music industry and cultural community as well as the general public. The Foundation works in partnership year-round with its founder, The Recording Academy, to bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage. In recognition of the significant role of teachers in shaping their students’ musical experiences, the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy partnered to present the first Music Educator Award™ in 2014. Open to current U.S. music teachers in kindergarten through college, the fourth annual Music Educator Award will be given out during GRAMMY Week 2017 and nominations are being accepted for the 2018 cycle. For more information about our music education programs, please visit www.grammyintheschools.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, please “like” GRAMMY in the Schools on Facebook, follow the GRAMMY Foundation on Twitter (@GRAMMYFdn) and join us on Instagram (@GRAMMYFdn).
MusiCares was established in 1989 by The Recording Academy to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, please visit www.musicares.org. For breaking news and exclusive content, please “like” MusiCares on Facebook and follow @MusiCares on Twitter and Instagram.