More than 6,000 entries from 100 countries vied for the top spot at the sixth edition of the United States-based Unsigned Only Music Competition, but it was 17-year-old Carman singer-songwriter Faouzia Ouihya who took home the 2017 grand prize.

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This article was published 9/9/2017 (1543 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

More than 6,000 entries from 100 countries vied for the top spot at the sixth edition of the United States-based Unsigned Only Music Competition, but it was 17-year-old Carman singer-songwriter Faouzia Ouihya who took home the 2017 grand prize.

Faouzia — she performs by only her first name on stage — impressed the judges with powerful vocals and "pop sensibilities" on her track Knock On My Door — originally released in 2015 — to make he the first teenager to ever win the overall grand prize and just the second Canadian to do so since the competition began in 2012, a news release stated.

The prize is US$20,000, as well as one-on-one mentoring opportunities from a group of music-industry executives from Atlantic, Razor & Tie, Sony Music Nashville and Island.

Faouzia also took first place in the teen category, which came with a prize of a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music’s five-week summer performance program in Boston.

"I am so thankful for this opportunity and the doors that it will open in the future,"the Moroccan-born singer said in the release.

"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."

Faouzia was not the only Manitoban to take home honours — Matt Epp took home second place in the adult-contemporary category, Jordan St. Cyr grabbed first place in the Christian category and the group Small Glories nabbed second place in a promotional category dubbed "Win Some Love." All three of those acts also received honourable mentions in other categories.

The Unsigned Only Music Competition is open to any artist who is not signed to a major record label. Entries are narrowed down and presented to a panel of judges who select the winners. This year’s panel included music-industry professionals such as singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, Christian band MercyMe, pop-rockers the Killers and country duo Montgomery Gentry.

The Unsigned Only grand prize is the second major award Faouzia has earned this year. In May, she and Epp won the grand prize at the International Songwriting Competition — the largest songwriting competition in the world — for The Sound, a track they worked on together. The Sound was chosen by judges from more than 16,000 entries from 137 countries, and the pair became the first Canadians to win the top prize in the 16-year history of the competition.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

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Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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