Lancer Spotlight 1/30/23: STEP UP! to make a difference in your community through song

Step Up is a song writing contest for Frederick Country middle and highschool students.

Courtesy of Caron Dale

Step Up is a song writing contest for Frederick Country middle and highschool students.

by Rhys Wilson and Mateo Peyton-Deblock

STEP UP! is a songwriting contest directed and founded by Caron Dale. It is open to Frederick County students from middle and high school.

The contest is a fun way to start getting one’s music out there, with amazing prizes that can help students continue to pursue their passions.

Dale founded the contest in 2017 and has continued the annual competition every year since.

Dale originally just worked for the non-profit organization Chords of Courage but decided to start the contest to give young voices a chance to make a difference through their music. 

The contest has not only had an impact on student participants but has been meaningful to Dale as well.

Dale said that a student once produced a song about Nadia Murad, an Iraqi-Yazidi human rights activist who was kidnapped and held hostage for months while being horrifically tortured.

As Dale explained, the student did not understand the power of the song they created but they were simply happy to share it with others and hoped it may impact them in a positive way.

Dale said the song moved her to tears, as it did for the student who wrote it. She said this was one song that strictly stuck with her, mainly for the students’ own reaction to their work.

The songs submitted to the contest can be any genre, and all different forms of music are encouraged and supported.

The contest prioritizes creative and powerful writing over the singing and musical aspect of song-making.

 According to the ChordsOfCourage website, “A great song supersedes any particular genre.”

This year’s contest aks competitors to write a song about someone who has performed an act of courage and suffered in the process, whose actions resulted in a significant and positive change between 1970 to the present.

Every song should be written about a person of the students choosing, Chords of Courage provided a list of approved subjects on their website for those having a hard time identifying an individual that meets the criteria. 

Each song submission costs $20. To enter the contest, participants must submit their lyrics, an mp3 recording of their song and a signed consent form.

The contest opened in November and the deadline for entries is February 12.

By February 23, the finalists will be chosen and notified by the organization.

A competition for the finalists will be held on March 19 at 7:00 pm at the Frederick Community College. Student participants will have their songs played by the band known as ilyAIMY, and the songs will be blindly judged in order to make the competition fair.

This year, winners can win prizes such as $400 cash, free recording studio time, $500 music and arts gift cards, $1,500 Frederick Community College scholarships, and the chance to have a professional artist evaluate their song.

First, second and third place winners all receive prizes. Occasionally, a fourth-place winner or tie will also receive prizes.

The contest is sponsored by multiple local organizations such as the Delaplaine Foundation, the Ausherman Family Foundation,  Music & Arts, Frederick Community College, and the YMCA.

The generosity of sponsors allows Chords of Courage to provide amazing prizes for each contest.

Dale’s main goal with the contest is to spread more positivity into the world and make a positive difference in someone’s life. She believes that people do not always realize the effect they can have on themselves and others.

“Anytime you hear the news, whether it’s on the TV, on the radio, [or] through the internet … it’s bad news,” Dale said. “It leaves all of us, particularly young people … feeling like the world is a horrible scary place … and that’s just not true.”

With two weeks until the contest deadline, there is still time to submit song entries and have a chance at winning incredible prizes while making a positive change in the Frederick community!