Finalists Announced in Pilot Songwriting Competition

Finalists Head to New York City for Summer Workshop in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students
High School Musical Theater Song Writing Competition
Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students  

Washington, DCToday, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc. announced three national finalists in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. With additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group, the Songwriting Challenge presented the chance for high school students from Seattle and King County, Washington; Dallas County, Texas; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, to showcase their songwriting talents and compete for the opportunity to be one of three national finalists traveling to New York City in July. 

Local finalists include:  

  • Jake Berglove from Perpich Arts High School in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota;

  • Chelsea Mayo  from R.L. Turner High School in Dallas County, Texas; and 

  • Angel Rodriguez from Pugent Sound Adventist Academy High School in Seattle and King County, Washington. 

“Congratulations to the finalists who took part in the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students. Their creativity and talent represents the next generation of songwriters,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “As a young person, I couldn’t have survived without the arts. Competitions like this allow the NEA to support emerging musical artists, particularly among our nation’s young people.” 

Local partners in each city led the Songwriting Challenge; they include: Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Big Thought in Dallas County, Texas; and the Office of Arts & Culture in Seattle and King County, Washington. 

This summer, national finalists will head to New York City for the next phase of the competition where they will take part in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn about the music business and hone their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, each national finalist will have their song performed by professional musicians and singers with judges from the music and musical theater industry choosing the national winner.  

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, the national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV. 

More information on the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students can be found at Follow the conversation about the Songwriting Challenge on Twitter at #IWriteSongs16. 

About the National Endowment for the Arts  

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.  

About Playbill, Inc. 

Since its inception in 1884, PLAYBILL has become synonymous with the legitimate theatre and is an internationally known trademark and symbol of the arts. Playbill Magazine, which can be found in theatres and classical arts venues throughout the country, proudly serves every Broadway house as well as the country’s most prestigious fine arts institutions, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In 2016 Playbill presses will roll out 3.5 million programs monthly for nearly 100 theatres in 24 cities. was established in 1994, and has since grown to become the leading source of theatre information on the web and has expanded to a suite of online offerings including Playbill Vault, Playbill EDU, Playbillder, and more. Visit for more information. 



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