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    Tuesday, February 06, 2007
    Gig: Calling all Songbirds...

    Essence Magazine
    And Berklee College Of Music Announce Their Second National Hip-Hop Songwriting Contest. Essence's Take Back the Music campaign, along with Boston's Berklee College of Music, are once again looking for the next generation of hip-hop stars. ESSENCE's Take Back the Music Campaign, an in-depth examination of the ways in which Black women are depicted in popular music and videos, was first announced in January 2005, and continues its effort to promote balance in mainstream hip-hop's messages as the two groups announce their second hip-hop songwriting contest. The contest deadline is March 9 and three winners will attend a high school music program at Berklee this summer, while runners up get a free course at Complete details are posted at and

    "ESSENCE is pleased to partner with the Berklee College of Music once again to expose new voices in hip-hop that otherwise might not be heard, and give new talent the opportunity to develop through music education," said Angela Burt-Murray, Essence editor-in-chief.

    The 10 finalist songs from last year's contest were posted on both and, and were heard by more than a quarter of a million listeners. Two of last year's winners have also applied to the college for full-time study.

    Students 15 to 18 who are unsigned songwriters and/or producers have until March 9, 2007, to submit their original songs. Five winners will be selected by a panel of hip-hop celebrity judges and Berklee music scholars: Chuck D (legendary rapper, co-founder of Public Enemy), Spinderella (former Salt-N-Pepa DJ, co-host of the syndicated classic hip-hop radio show The Backspin), Jean Grae (rapper, songwriter, producer), Berklee professors Susan Kean Cattaneo (songwriting), Prince Charles Alexander (music production and engineering), Danielle Scott (ensemble), and student Ryan Williamson (contemporary writing and production major, founder of Rykeyz Productions).

    Judging will be based on clever, innovative lyrics, as well as melody and composition of songs. Three winners will be admitted into the 2007 Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program that immerses students in all aspects of performance, music theory, and the latest innovations in music technology, while electives focus on songwriting, music synthesis, and the music business. For complete contest rules and an entry form, visit or

    The contest includes: Grand Prize: Two winners will be admitted into the 2007 Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program and receive a full scholarship, including tuition and room and board (each valued at $6,480); Second Place: One winner will receive a tuition-only scholarship (valued at $3,895); Runners-Up: Two runners-up will each receive one online music course at (valued between $595 and $1,250)

    --information as reported at


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