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Columbia Musician Wins National Music Video Contest

Evan Johnson hopes New York University takes note of his victory.

Evan Johnson's future, including perhaps his application to New York University, may have just received a big boost.

The 17-year-old Atholton High School senior on Monday was named the grand prize winner of the Music & Arts "Find Your Voice" contest.

Johnson was one of six finalists who competed in an online voting contest that ended Sunday.

Contestants were required to cover one of 12 songs while playing the instrument of their choice in the competition sponsored by Music & Arts, Yamaha instruments, Facebook and teen musician Greyson Chance.

Johnson found out on Facebook that he was the winner.

"I was on my Facebook page main news feed and saw an announcement on Greyson Chance's page," he said Tuesday.

"Congratulations to the winner of the Find Your Voice contest from from Music & Arts, Evan J! Looking forward to hanging with you, Evan," Chance wrote on Facebook. "And congrats again to all of the contestants, your submissions were awesome!"

He went to tell his parents, Scott and Brenda Johnson, that he won, and they cautioned him that it might not have been a legitimate post.

But just a few minutes later, the announcement was repeated on the Music & Arts Facebook page.

The family is thrilled for Evan and grateful for the community support, Scott Johnson said Tuesday.

"Cool! Wow!," the proud father said. "Evan is extremely excited and really humbled and thankful for everyone who voted for him."

When Evan was named one of six finalists, the family filled out all of the required paperwork, Scott said. With legalities out of the way, the winner was not notified in advance.

"I thought it was pretty cool that I found out just like everyone else," Evan said. "I saw it on Facebook, and a friend of mine put up a message congratulating me before I could get my own message up thanking everyone."

At Atholton on Tuesday, some teachers announced that Evan had won the contest, and people congratulated him all day long, he said.

As the grand prize winner, Evan will receive $2,000 to put toward Yamaha instruments of his choosing and a year's worth of music lessons.

But the most exciting part of the prize package is a trip to Los Angeles, where Evan will get to meet Chance, who was discovered by comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres after an online video of Chance covering a Lady Gaga song went viral.

Evan said he hopes winning the contest will get his "name out there a little bit," and maybe even help his chances of getting into NYU's music technology program, which is highly selective.

"That is a big hope, that I can let NYU know I won," he said."But I don't really have too many expectations, I guess."

Evan started taking trumpet lessons in fourth grade in Howard County public schools, but is self-taught on drums, piano/keyboard, guitar, banjo and other stringed instruments.

He credits his public school music teachers, including Eric Posner at Atholton and Richard McCready at River Hill High, with helping to nurture his love of music.

In a home recording studio in the basement of the family's home, not only did Evan play electric guitar, keyboard and drums and provide the for his cover of "Break Even" by The Script for the contest, he also did all the technical work of producing the video.

After learning all of the musical parts, the young artist recorded his performances on different tracks and then set about doing all of the production work to create the video he entered in the contest.

"I recorded all the tracks, shot and edited all the video and did all the post-production mixing and mastering," he told Patch last week.

Music & Arts officials announced they will contact Evan later this week with details about the trip, which could take place as soon as three or four weeks from now.

The prize includes a three-night hotel stay for two people, and Scott Johnson plans to accompany his son.

"We don't know any of the details of the trip yet," Scott said. "Maybe he'll get 10 minutes of Greyson's time in a meet-and-greet and maybe they'll actually get to hang out together. But in any case, we're just thrilled for Evan."

And while he's waiting to hear the details about the trip, Evan has plenty to do.

First up is that letter to NYU's admissions selection committee.


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