2021 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Winners

We are proud to present the 2021 class of Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge winners. As in 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing are able to offer this opportunity to 13 students: 12 individual songwriters and one, two-person songwriting team. Winners’ hometowns range from Maple Valley, Washington to Bethel, Connecticut and from Lincoln, Nebraska to Jackson, Mississippi. Their songs are also very different; engaging mythic themes, contemporary issues, and stories from their experiences and perspectives.

You can read their bios and song summaries here.

Please note: The school grade and school name are taken from their applications submitted in spring 2021.


Headshot of a young woman.

Ayana Williams

Brooklyn, NY – Junior – Brooklyn High School of the Arts

Song: When I’m Empress



Elsa Miller

Maple Valley, WA – Senior - Tahoma High School

Song: A Beginning



Ethan Smith

Bethel, CT – Junior - Bethel High School

Song: Some People Just Die


Howard Godfrey

Gurnee, IL – Senior - Evanston Township High School

Song: The Waltz of Adonis & Delilah


Kyler Huyse

Katy, tx – junior- seven lakes high school

Song: From a Distance


Lily Cline

San Rafael, CA – Junior – San Domenico School

Song: Gambare


Nicole Acosta

Miami, FL – Junior – Miami Arts Studio

Song: Ordinary


Oluchi Nwaokorie

Jackson, MS – Senior – Murrah High School

Song: Call Me Ke/In Between


Owen Knight

Sykesville, MD – Sophomore – Century High School

Song: Fear Me


Tyler Kinnaman

Snoqualmie, WA – Senior – Mount Si High School

Song: Life of a Reaper


Zeph Siebler

Lincoln, NE – Junior – Lincoln High School

Song: Thus Spoke Zarathustra



Team: Ashley DiLorenzo & Mateo Lizcano

Maspeth, NY/Flushing, NY – Senior/Junior - Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School

Song: Birdy-Lingo