With getting ready to graduate Cherry Creek High School, volunteering with Centennial’s youth commission, deciding on a college to attend and desperately trying to pass calculus class, Edwina Maben may seem like an average high school student.
Within the past few months, however, her day-to-day life collided with the spotlight when she was selected as a top-five finalist from more than 9,000 applicants in the Guitar Center Singer Songwriter 6 competition.
“It was my senior year and I wanted to do something outgoing just to remember my high school experience,” Maben, 18, said about entering the competition.
The competition judges artists on their original songs. Artists submit videos of their performances and the 100 performers with the most views are then narrowed down to the top five by well-known producer, RedOne, who has produced tracks from Rod Stewart and Jennifer Lopez.
In the Facebook Live video in which the five finalists were announced, RedOne said he chose Maben for her pop sound and willingness to make mistakes.
“I love the fact that you sent a video with a regular camera, live with a guitar, no effects. Raw,” RedOne said. “You are shining through the camera … I loved the structure of the song.”
The competition winner will record a four-song EP with RedOne, have a one-on-one song writing session with pop star Cody Simpson, play their original music on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and receive prizes worth more than $52,000.
The top five received an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, where they are scheduled to compete for the top prize on March 24.
The other four finalists submitted professional-quality music videos, but Maben said that to create her video, she balanced her camera on shoeboxes in her basement.
Mayben puts herself in the “pop music” category, mentioning the pop patterns in her song-writing and pop music idols. Maben looks up to Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Pink and artists with simple singer-songwriter sounds.
Maben has only performed at churches or in school talent shows. This competition will be the first time she performs as herself and not in a group
Maben said that her song ideas come from a melody that gets stuck in her head. She said that eventually lyrics come from syllables or a single line that she hears with the melody.
“Songs come a couple different ways. I feel insane talking about it,” Maben said. “Some of the songs that I like the best have been ones where I heard a melody first and the syllables came later.”
Maben said that when she was younger, she had severe social anxiety. Her mom convinced her to join the church choir by bribing Maben with Dunkin’ Donuts. Eventually, Maben fell in love with music, started piano and guitar lessons and dedicated all her spare time to learning to improve her skills.
Sierra, Olivia, Nelson and G are Maben’s best friends, and also her guitars. She has written more than 15 songs with her instruments since her freshman year.
“Writing has always been a way for me to get all my thoughts down in front of me instead of getting crazy in my head,” Maben said. “When you like doing something, you make time for it without realizing it. Writing for me is one of those things.”
Ahead of the competition, Maben said she has primarily been focused on how she wants to portray herself.
“I want to be seen as someone approachable,” Maben said. “I want people to see me as an artist but also as a person.”