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Meet the Finalists for the 2018 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

Just under a week from now, one of the songs below will earn its creator (or creators) top honors in the 2018 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. The seven talented teens below have set to music everything from a crisis of faith to first love to the zombie apocalypse. After a weekend spent working with top industry professionals, including mentors, musicians, and singers, the teens will compete for the championship before a panel of judges who will hear their songs as they are performed by professional musicians.

The top spot will come with a $25,000 school scholarship courtesy of the National Music Publishers Association and their S.O.N.G.S. Foundation. The second place winner will receive $10,000 contributed by BMI and the third place winner will get $5,000 courtesy of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. All of the finalists will have their song published by Samuel French, the world’s leading licensor and publisher of plays and musicals.

The tune-full finale will be webcast live on arts.gov Monday, April 23, 2018 from 6:00-8:30pm. 

Meet the songwriters below and then listen to their songs here.

Eliza Corrington and Braxton Gerald Carr of Davinci Academy in Ogden, Utah, are the songwriters behind "Ten Seconds to Infinity." The song--which explores the wonder of space travel and the strength of love--is set at the moment astronaut John Glenn climbs into the Friendship 7 and is launched into outer space while his wife Annie watches from the ground. 

Tucker Donelan of Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts wrote the song "Caleb's Confession." Tucker's song is in the voice of Pastor Caleb de Silva who is torn between the tenets of his religious beliefs and the devastation he sees around him wrought by the opioid crisis.

Jillian Guetersloh of Bedford High School in Bedford, Massachusetts contemplated first love for her song, "Nothing at All." Written in the voice of a young woman named Mandy, the song is an imaginary letter to Mandy's love interest Noah, reflecting on their capacity to love each other.

Fritz Hager of Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas is the songwriter behind “If I Lie Here.” Fritz’s song explores friendship, betrayal, and the costs of pursuing stardom.

Aaron Richert of New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in New Orleans, Louisiana has penned "Lucky," about a young man trying to get the courage to talk to the girl he loves.

David Volpini of Chippewa Valley High School in Macomb, Michigan wrote the song "Day Number One." David's song imagines the struggle to survive during the first 21 days of the zombie apocalypse.

The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts partnering with the American Theatre Wing and in collaboration with Playbill, Inc., Disney Theatrical Productions, and Samuel French.

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