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The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Announces Annual Visual Arts and Songwriting Contest Winners

NEW ORLEANS — The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) announced today the winners of its annual visual art and songwriting contests, awarding 13 high school juniors and seniors from across Louisiana with $25,000 in college scholarships (winners listed below). Winners from the Songwriting contest, in partnership with the Trombone Shorty Foundation, will have the opportunity to perform at the foundation’s upcoming annual fundraiser, Shorty Fest (date TBD). The 2021 contest theme was “Alone Together: Art in the Time of Pandemic,” which encouraged students to reflect and explore their thoughts on this difficult year and create works of art and music inspired by their reflections.

“This year’s art and songwriting contest winners were truly special,” says Jacques Rodrigue, GRFA’s Executive Director.  “It hasn’t been easy for these students, learning virtually from home, and missing the in-person support and friendship that is so vital during high school years. These students overcame many challenges faced and created art that was all-encompassing of the year we’ve all had. My hope is that these artists will continue to inspire and uplift others just as they have done with us through this contest.”

Students were asked to consider the following questions when creating their original art and songs:

  • How has disaster and disease shaped art throughout history?
  • How has your life changed as a result of COVID-19?
  • What does social distancing and quarantine mean to you?
  • What has been the most difficult part of this year for you?
  • What do you miss most about life before COVID-19?
  • What is your hope for the future?

Songwriting Contest Winners: A panel of celebrity judges, including Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes (New Orleans musician, book author and ethnographic photographer), Aaron Wilkinson (Honey Island Swamp Band), Robin Barnes (“The Songbird of New Orleans”), Paul Sanchez (musician, founding member of the rock band Cowboy Mouth) and Don Markowitz (American composer best known for co-writing the Academy Award winning song, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”) selected three finalists to share $6,000 in college scholarships. Judging criteria was based on structure and composition, melody, and lyrics. Winners will also have the opportunity to perform at the Trombone Shorty Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Shorty Fest (date TBD).

*Soundcloud files for each song are hyperlinked below.

1st Place – $3,000
Keelan Jiles, Jr. (Junior, Warren Easton Senior High School, New Orleans)
“Viral War”

2nd Place – $2,000
Thai Booker (Senior, Ponchatoula High School, Ponchatoula)

3rd Place – $1,000
Owusu Diallo (Junior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans)
“What We Feelin”

“What a year it’s been, and it is so uplifting to see the creative expression that comes out of challenging times,” says Bill Taylor, Executive Director of the Trombone Shorty Foundation. “These young songwriters have produced such talented and inspired work.”

Visual Art Contest Winners: Contest judges selected the below 10 finalists to share $19,000 in college scholarships. Individual visual artwork was judged on concept/design, technical skill and creativity.

Art contest judges included Janet Wolfe (Artist and Art Educator), Jill Hackney (Artist), Dana Holland-Bieckert (Curator – Rodrigue Studio), Misty Taylor (Collections and Exhibitions Manager – Hilliard Art Museum), Kay LaFrance (Old Post Office Museum, Winnsboro), Emily Feazel (Designer, Exhibits & Special Events – R.W. Norton Art Gallery), Kathy Rodriguez (Professor, Department of Fine Arts – University of New Orleans), Priscilla Simpson (Director of Events and Operations – Shaw Center for the Arts), Tammie Haubner (Director – Imperial Calcasieu Museum) and Catherine Pears (Executive Director – Alexandria Museum of Art).

*Full details on each winner’s artwork can be found HERE. Image files for each winner are hyperlinked below.

1st Place Senior — $5,000
John Landry (Teurlings Catholic High School Lafayette, LA)
“Quarantine Blues”

2nd Place Senior – $4,000
Faith Bass (St. Mary’s Dominican High School, New Orleans, LA)
“Pandemics: History Repeats Itself”

3rd Place Senior – $3,000
Angel Caine (Woodlawn High School, Baton Rouge, LA)

4th Place Senior – $2,000
Alaina Le (St. Thomas More High School, Lafayette, LA)

5th Place Senior – $1,000
Catherine Rollins (St. Joseph’s Academy, Baton Rouge, LA)
“Autism and an Alien World”

1st Place Junior – $1,500
Isabelle Stelly (Southside Highschool, Youngsville, LA)

“Reflections in Quarantine”

2nd Place Junior – $1,000
Chloe Babin (Vandebilt Catholic High School, Houma, LA)
“The Persistence of Covid”

3rd Place Junior – $750
Adisyn Estes (Sam Houston High School, Lake Charles, LA)
“Silenced by Circumstance”

4th Place Junior – $500
Iris Kobrock (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, LA)
“New Storms”

5th Place Junior – $250
Yazmin Carmona (Woodlawn High School, Baton Rouge, LA)
“When the World Stopped”

Special thanks to this year’s sponsors: Jones Walker, Paul Leaman, Dathel Georges, Barbara and Biff Motley.

Founded by George Rodrigue in 2009, the GRFA Scholarship Arts Contest has received 5,881 submissions and awarded $530,000 in total scholarships to almost 200 students. For more information, please visit


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