All entries are narrowed down to a group of finalists that are given to the panel of judges whose task is to select the winners. The panel is comprised of renowned recording artists, music journalists, and music supervisors, including such celebrities as: Aimee Mann, MercyMe, The Killers, O.A.R., Phantogram, Montgomery Gentry, David Crowder, Delbert McClinton, and many more.
The overall 2017 Grand Prize is awarded to the 17 year-old Canadian artist Faouzia. This is the first time a teen has won the overall Grand Prize since the competition launched six years ago. Her song “Knock On My Door” was the overwhelming favorite with the judges who were enamored with her vocal prowess and original pop sensibility. In addition to winning $20,000 in cash (US) and much more in prizes, Faouzia also receives one-on-one mentoring from a group of upper echelon music industry executives from Atlantic, Razor & Tie, Sony Music Nashville, Island, and more.
Faouzia is also the First Place winner in the Teen category and is awarded a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music’s 5-week Summer Performance program as one of the prizes for winning this category.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity and the doors that it will open in the future,” said Faouzia upon winning the 2017 Unsigned Only Grand Prize. “Receiving approbation in such a prestigious competition brings a sense of honour and happiness that can’t fully be put into words. This only pushes me to work harder to achieve goals that seem unattainable but can be achieved with perseverance.”
Born in Morocco and raised in the rural town of Carman, MB, Canada, Faouzia may be a new artist on the scene, but she is astounding audiences and critics alike. Growing up in a French and Arabic-speaking household, Faouzia started making music at a very young age in the basement of her home and then graduated to singing covers and putting them on YouTube (her cover of Adele’s “Hello” is impressive). Putting her poetry to music was the next step, and her original songs began to take form. Her extreme vocal range and tone, coupled with songwriting that is mature, commanding, and inventive, is positioning her as a pop powerhouse. She is currently working on her debut EP that will be released soon.
“If there is one thing that we have learned over the years it’s that there is such an incredible wealth of talent in the world,” said Founders/Directors Candace Avery and Jim Morgan. “This is best highlighted by this year’s Grand Prize winner, Faouzia, who at only 17 years old is one of the most stunning vocalists and artists that we have come across in a long time. This is just the beginning of what is to come for this young, talented artist, and we are very excited to be a part of her journey.”
2017 judges include: Aaron Shust; Aimee Mann; David Crowder; Delbert McClinton; Excision; Frank Foster; Jack Ingram; Lucero; Lydia Loveless; Melanie Fiona; MercyMe; Montgomery Gentry; O.A.R.; Phantogram; The Killers; Kyle Anderson (Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly); Josh Jackson (Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paste Magazine); Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Zach Long (Associate Editor, Time Out Chicago); Caine O’Rear (Editor-In-Chief, American Songwriter); Michael Molenda (Editor-In-Chief, Guitar Player); Lyndsey Parker (Managing Editor, Yahoo Music); Jed Gottlieb (Music & Theater Writer, Boston Herald); Kevin McNeese (President, NewReleaseToday); Suzanne Cadgene (Publisher, Elmore Magazine); Sarah Jones (Editor, Electronic Musician Magazine); and many more.
Mentors include: Pete Ganbarg (Executive VP/Head of A&R, Atlantic Records); Nick Haussling (Sr. Director of A&R, Razor & Tie); Taylor Lindsey (Sr. Director, A&R, Sony Music Nashville); Jeffrey Sledge (VP of A&R, Atlantic Records); Matt D’Arduini (VP of A&R, Island Records); Kim Stephens (President, Forward Entertainment); and Riggs Morales (VP A&R & Artist Development, Atlantic Records).
Unsigned Only is sponsored by: Berklee College Of Music; Celebrity Access; D’Addario; D’Angelico Guitars; Disc Makers; Eventric; Eventide; Groove 3; Lurssen Mastering; Magix; Merch Cat; Musicians Institute; PRA Audio Systems; Radio Airplay; Shure; Symphonic Distribution; The Music Business Registry; Valve Industries; and VOX.
Adult Contemporary (AC)
Fandemonium (public online vote)
Triple Play (special promotion)
Win Some Love (special promotion)
For more information and to view the list of all winners, including Honorable Mentions, go to www.unsignedonly.com.