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Fairhope High School student wins 2024 National High School Songwriting Challenge

A rising senior at an Alabama high school has been crowned the winner of a prestigious national songwriting competition.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced Tuesday, that Sydney Gray of Fairhope High School, has been named to receive the top honor. As part of her award, Gray will now receive a $2,500 scholarship and a trip to New York, where her original song, “Little Miss Heard But Not Seen” will be performed in full orchestration at a concert on Broadway.

Gray is the section leader in “Encore” Fairhope’s performing ensemble, First Chair trombone in the wind ensemble, and Drum Major for the Fairhope Buccaneer Marching Band. Her theatrical home is with Baldwin County’s Eastern Shore Repertory Theater where she has held principal roles and music directed more than a dozen shows with their competition team for Junior Theater Festival and their Showcase team for their New York Central Park performances.

“We are delighted to celebrate these winning songwriters in New York City in June,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chairwoman, Dr. Mario Rosario Jackson. “The experience of working one-on-one with a dedicated mentor to develop their craft and learn more about the songwriting process is one that we hope will remain with these students for years to come.”

“Thank you to our partners at the National Alliance for Musical Theater for creating empowering opportunities for students at all stages of this program to develop their songwriting voice.”

Over the next several weeks Sydney will be working virtually with her Broadway team and at 7pm ET May 30th Sydney will be interviewed about her winning song.

In June, she’ll head to New York City to work with mentors and music directors to hone the orchestration while learning about the process, technique, and production. On the Monday following the Tony Awards, the fully orchestrated and produced composition will be performed live in New York at our Winner Concert by Broadway artists, Monday, June 17, at 7pm ET.

This performance will be available to watch live and on-demand at arts.gov/songwriting. The seven winning songs will be compiled into a songbook by Concord Theatricals and released at a future date.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on X @ShipleyAusten

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