Grant Grayson Bower, a sophomore at Santa Barbara High School, was recently selected as the first-place winner in the Non-Classical Voice category in the finale performance at The Music Center’s 26th Annual Spotlight Awards. Competing with more than 2,300 other participants in the long-standing arts education program and competition, the sixteen-year-old won a $5,000 scholarship provided by The Music Center.
“It’s all been a large blur. I feel like winning and the whole over all completion was one amazing dream,” says a grateful Bower. “I still have to do the double take when I walk by my dresser and see my award sitting there staring back at me.”
The Spotlight competition emphasizes the achievement of artistic goals through the development of skills, knowledge and self-confidence. The program, which has been occurring for the past 26 years, provides the tools to help tens of thousands of students to improve their craft and build their self-esteem. A first place and runner-up were named in each of eight categories: ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, two-dimensional art and photography.
“Being ranked as one of the most talented teens means so much to me,” says Bower. “It’s one of the milestones in my life I honestly didn’t know if I would ever achieve. I feel like so many doors have opened from this wonderful program and my future is on its way to success.”
Previous winners at the Spotlight awards include pop star Adam Lambert, singer/songwriter Josh Groban, American Ballet Theatre ballerina Misty Copeland, Alvin Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing, Broadway’s Erin Mackey, and the New York Philharmonic’s Principal Oboist Liang Wang.
This year, Bower has shifted directions in his musical career. While theater has always been his love, he has become interested in pop music. “Thinking of bringing my music to thousands of people and fans out there who love and appreciate me as myself and not as a character seems like a life -long gift and I think that may be my new road to travel down,” says Bower.
The teen is not certain where his road will take him next, but he’s open to letting music take him in whatever directions it may lead. “My life has been tugged and pulled in many different directions in ways I never dreamt would happen,” says Bower. “I say let the doors be open and whatever happens happens.