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Seattle Area High School Student Wins National Songwriting Challenge

Awarded Scholarship and Publishing Contract


Angel Rodriguez from Puget Sound Adventist Academy, Kirkland, WA was named National Champion of The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge for High School Students on July 24th in New York City. Along with the winning title, Rodriquez was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and his song “Bleeding” will be published by Sony/ATV. The program is a pilot initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc., with additional support provided by Disney Theatrical Group. In Seattle the program was led by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and The 5th Avenue Theatre.

FullSizeRender“I am going to keep moving forward,” stated Mr. Angel Rodriguez. “I’m going to keep writing songs and keep making it [them] better.”

Rodriguez was one of three high school students who traveled to New York City to hone their songwriting talents and compete for the National Champion title. The two runners-up are Jake Berglove from Perpich Arts High School, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and Chelsea Mayo from R.L Turner High School in Dallas County, Texas. Each runner-up was awarded a $2,500 scholarship.

“We are thrilled that Angel won the competition,” says Bernadine C. Griffin, Managing Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre. “We are so proud of Angel and of all the students who submitted passionate and amazing original songs to the Challenge.”

From July 22 to July 24, the three national finalists participated in an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to learn about the musical theater business and polish their songwriting skills. At the end of the workshop, each finalist had their song performed by professional musicians. Judges from the music and musical theater industries, including songwriter Adam Gwon; Tony Award® Nominated and ABC “Scandal” actor Norm Lewis; and composer/lyricist Anaïs Mitchell, chose the national champion.

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. Scholarships were provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation.

About the Office of Arts & Culture | Seattle

The Office of Arts & Culture envisions a city driven by creativity that provides the opportunity for everyone to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. The Office is supported by the 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council. Find out more at Follow @SeaOfficeofArts or

About The 5th Avenue Theatre

The nonprofit 5th Avenue Theatre is acclaimed as one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies and is especially renowned for its production and development of new works. Since 2001, the Seattle-based company has produced 17 new musicals. To date, nine (including the sensational hit Disney’s Aladdin) have moved on to Broadway premieres, earning a combined 15 Tony Awards, including two for Best Musical (Hairspray and Memphis). The 5th Avenue Theatre is also known for its world class, critically acclaimed productions of musicals chosen from both the contemporary canon and the Golden Age of Broadway.

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.