Paramus HS Sophomore Wins GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Teens Make Music Contest

Paramus High School sophomore and teen music artist Victoria Marchlewski has been selected as the winner of the fifth annual GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Teens Make Music Contest for her original interpretation of the importance of living above the influence of drug and alcohol use.

The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, the two nonprofit organizations of The Recording Academy®, in collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Above the Influence campaign, will honor first, second and third place winners this month with exclusive GRAMMY® experiences and prizes.

The contest asked young musicians aged 14 – 18 to compose or create an original song and/or music video that celebrates life above the influence or brings attention to the consequences of substance abuse. All winners will attend the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards® Backstage Experience, a special backstage tour that takes place while artists rehearse for the live GRAMMY Awards.

First-place winner Marchlewski submitted “ New Day,” a song that encourages teens to live their lives to their fullest potential. It highlights the importance of perseverance and individuality to find the strength to make healthy choices, as illustrated in the lyrics: “Tomorrow’s a new day, don’t let it go to waste. Do what you gotta do, change what you need to change. Cause tomorrow’s a new day and you got the power to say ‘Nothin’ can control me. I’m living my life for me and it’ll be a real good day.”

“We are honored to join the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares to recognize these talented teen musicians,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Each year the program grows, the more we are impressed with the submissions. These creative individuals help demonstrate what it means to be above the influence of negative pressures and how drugs or alcohol can take away opportunities to reach their goals.”

“This contest is a great fit with the addiction recovery work of MusiCares and the music education mission of the GRAMMY Foundation,” said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the GRAMMY Foundation, MusiCares and The Recording Academy. “We’ve been a proud participant in this contest for the past five years and our alliance with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides an ideal forum for teens to share their views on the dangers of substance abuse, and advocate for a healthy lifestyle.”

Recent Ridgecrest Center recovery high school graduate Sam Beckman of Nashville, TN is the second-place winner for “ Peace Inside.” The song’s inspirational lyrics offer hope to those struggling with addiction: “Are you broken, sick, have you come undone? If you need a hand, I’ve been there before. I’ve been down that road before. If you let it, the sun will rise. In the light, the darkness dies. There’s more to life, than getting by. Did you know your dreams are still alive? If you want it, there’s peace inside.”

Third-place winner Kalilah Perkins of Flagler Palm Coast High School in Palm Coast, FL wrote and rapped “ As Not Tonight.” Her song underlines how substance abuse can remove a teen’s chance to live life to the fullest and that there is hope by making healthy decisions, as explained in the lyrics: “When I see kids harming their bodies, I just wish that they knew it. Life is too precious to wreck it, and it could end any second, from stupid careless decisions, yeah you guessed it. We have the liberty to choose the way we go, not succumbing to temptation I refuse to not say no. So we’re here to celebrate the life we’re freely given, so why would I inject death if I’m too busy living?”

The first-place winner receives two tickets to the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, as well as a cash award of $500 and the opportunity to perform a set at the Acoustic Tent on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour in the city closest to her hometown.

The second- and third-place winners receive cash prizes of $250 and $100, respectively, and all three winners have the opportunity to attend the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Backstage Experience Friday, Feb. 6 during rehearsals. Other prizes include two tickets to any Vans Warped Tour stop, gift bags and more. All three winners will also have their original compositions posted on the MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation’s GRAMMY website (the premiere site for Recording Academy members), the Vans Warped Tour website, and the Above the Influence website. Winners were also featured during National Drug Facts Week℠ from Jan. 26 – Feb. 1.

MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation provided a panel of judges that included music industry professionals, while the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provided technical expertise in the judging process. Points were given for accurate depictions of subject matter.