Songwriter context winners announced!

Songwriter Showcase, Pro Panel Discussion Is May 11 At The Waiting Room

          Omaha Performing Arts announced the winners for the songwriting contest inspired by ONCE today. Using the theme of ONCE as inspiration, aspiring singer-songwriters were invited to write an original song for the competition for a chance to win a demo recording session for their song, a chance to play at showcase and for tickets to attend the opening night of the Broadway touring production of ONCE. Two songwriters were selected to win the recording session – Luke Heffron, 17, of Omaha for “Forget Myself” in the 13-18 Age Division, and Drew Nenemen, 29, of Omaha for “Another Love Song” in the 19-29 Age Division – and 20 were selected to perform at the showcase on Monday, May 11.
          Heffron and Nenemen each won a free demo recording of their song at ARC (recording studio), produced by nationally renowned musician, producer and sound engineer, Mike Mogis.
The top songwriters overall and the Top 10 songwriters from each age division were selected by judges who viewed videos submitted for the contest. Those 20 songwriters will perform in a local showcase, Monday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. at The Waiting Room in Benson. Ryan Link, who plays Emcee in the Broadway touring production of ONCE and is the understudy for the lead character, Guy, will be at the event, as well, performing his original music from his recent album and music from ONCE. Admission to the showcase will be free and open to the public.

 “The talent displayed by each of the entrants was fantastic to see,” said Kendra Whitlock Ingram, Omaha Performing Arts vice president, programming and education. “The judges were blown away at the thought put into the songs and the passion with which they were presented. Omaha Performing Arts was excited to present this competition and we’re pleased that so many people participated.” 
“I was particularly impressed by the overall quality of all the entries,” said Mogis. “I enjoyed going through the songs, and it was inspiring to see all these kids put themselves out there like that. There are a lot of talented kids in Omaha.” 

The Top 10 songwriters performing in the showcase are: 

 13-18 Age Division: Sophie Clark, Omaha, “To Rule the World”; Griffin Gillen, Plattsmouth, Neb., “The Most Overrated Season”; Noah Gose, Lincoln, Neb., “Without You”; Luke Heffron, Omaha, “Forget Myself”; Jack McLaughlin, Omaha, “Just Like A Child”; Mary Ruth McLeay, Omaha, “The Guest”; Nicole Miller, West Des Moines, Iowa, “Do You Miss Me (Would You)”; Roni Perez, Omaha, “Off to Paris”; Chloe Pinkman, Lincoln, Neb., “You”; and Anna Wade, Lincoln, Neb. “Thing Is.” 

 19-29 Age Division: Cody Barta, Omaha, “Cancer”; Kait Berreckman, Omaha, “I'm Fine”; Makesha Carter, Omaha, “Drowning”; Logan Larkin, LaVista, Neb., “Battle Scar”; Josh Lawler, Omaha, “Summer Blues”; Dominique Morgan, Omaha, “Stand Up”; Drew Neneman, Omaha, “Another Love Song”; Elsa Rae, Omaha, “Intercom”; Sam Swerczek, Omaha, “Holding Back”; and Tara Vaughan, Blair, Neb., “Gotta Get Myself Right.” 

          A music industry pro panel discussion will precede the showcase performance. The panel will feature: professional musicians and recording artists Orenda Fink and Matt Whipkey; Mogis; C.J. Olson, key staff member at Saddle Creek records; and will be moderated by Tim McMahan, indie music journalist and blogger. The panel will discuss best practices for developing a successful music career. Following the discussion, audience members can engage with panelists in a Q&A discussion. 
Winners of the Top 50 songs will receive complimentary tickets to ONCE the musical at the Orpheum Theater on Tuesday, May 12. The songwriters will also have the opportunity to participate in a post-show talk-back discussion with cast members from ONCE. The Top 50 songwriters are mostly from Omaha, though there were selected songwriters from Blair, LaVista, Lincoln, Minden, Plattsmouth, Plymouth, Neb.; Council Bluffs and Neola, Iowa; Bloomington, Ind.; and Akron, Ohio. The youngest applicant for the contest was 13 years old. 
          ONCE, winner of eight Tony Awards® including Best Musical and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album, will play Omaha’s Orpheum Theater for a limited engagement Tuesday, May 12, through Sunday, May 17. Tickets for ONCE are available through Ticket Omaha.* 
          The tickets, starting at $30 each, are available by going online at; by phone at 402.345.0606; or by going to the Ticket Omaha box office inside the Holland Performing Arts Center, 12th and Douglas. Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by calling 402.661.8516 or toll-free at 866.434.8587. The show is part of Omaha Performing Arts’ Broadway Series. 


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