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And the winners are…

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After months of gathering song submissions, partnering with other organizations, working with our incredible volunteer response, and an outstanding cast of judges, the Braver Angels Music team is ready to announce the winners of the 2023 Braver Angels Song Contest.

Congratulations to all!

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 Outstanding Song from a Red Songwriter: The Echo Chamber

From songwriter Dot Reiser:

“As the divide in the Nation grew wider, and LOUDER, and hiss-ier, I received a special songwriting request from my mother-in-law. She said, ‘We need a song that will UNIFY THE NATION.’ …The problem? If we only surround ourselves with the opinions we ‘like’, we may miss a chance to build a bridge, to find that highest and best solution, and to grow. ‘The Echo Chamber’ poses a question, ‘Do you think we’re better off divided in these great United States?’ and answers with a foreboding, familiar melody on fife and drum.”

 Outstanding Song from a Blue Songwriter: Together, We Will Rise

From songwriter Ben Caron:

“‘Together, We Will Rise’ was written as an homage to the protest and rallying songs of the late 60s and early 70s, when music united people of all cultures around just causes. I wanted this song to stir our nation to action, to choose civil and compassionate ways of settling our disagreements, in service to greater understanding and dignity for all.”

“‘While There Is Still Time’ was inspired by a few lines in a poem by Philip Larkin called ‘The Mower.’”

 Grand Prize Song: While There Is Still Time

From songwriters Hillary Rollins (lyrics) and Michele Brourman (music):

“’While There Is Still Time” was inspired by a few lines in a poem by Philip Larkin called ‘The Mower.’ In the very beginning of the pandemic I heard a physician on the front lines make a reference to that poem, specifically to the lines ‘of each other, we should be kind, while there is still time.’ he lyrics came easily and I was thrilled when Michele found just the right melodic and rhythmic setting. The song has been used to raise money for Direct Relief, as a free musical offering for Jewish and intercultural High Holy Day services held online during the pandemic, and now (we hope!) as a unifying anthem for Braver Angels to help end polarization and divisiveness in this country. As Michele puts it, “This song seems to have been born to serve,” and that makes us very happy.”

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Part of the prize for the Grand Prize winner is a spot to perform at the upcoming Braver Angels Convention — so get excited to experience some of this in person if you’re coming to Gettysburg!

While we’re excited to present these winners and their songs to you, we also want to add that three prizes aren’t enough to truly honor the amount of talent gathered in this contest. Fortunately, Braver Angels has other ways of using music to fuel the depolarization movement. You can look for more of the 130+ songs from this contest on upcoming BA podcasts and in workshop slide decks.

There are so many more things this competition helped us accomplish. We believe that an important avenue going forward is collaborating with other music communities, and this competition opened doors and gave us valuable next steps. We’re also excited about how it brought energy and momentum to our growing songwriter community. If you’ve ever been interested, now is a great time to join us.

We want to thank the judges, the workshop leaders, the Braver Angels staff who stepped in to help us, the volunteers, and the contestants.

We’ve built something remarkable here together: powerful new songs that enlarge the impact of BA events, wide platforms that elevate the songs to do more good in the world than individual musicians can achieve themselves, and everywhere evidence of the power of music to bring us together.

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