Liberian Hipco Artist Wins Global Creative Arts Contest With Song About Voting

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Monrovia – A young hipco artist from Liberia has been named the winner of a global creative arts contest for his song promoting voter awareness.

The song “Know Who To Vote For” by Monrovia-based artist, Amaze, won the Multimedia category of the “Through Arts and Imagination” creative arts competition hosted by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS. The contest was organised by the CIVICUS Youth Action Group under the theme, “Re-imagining Democracy: In Search of Silenced Voices” to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12 by encouraging young creative artists to share their vision of what democracy should be and to raise the silenced voices of youth globally.

“I feel democracy should be everybody business. The song is a sensitive song for citizens to vote right, not to vote based on Ethnicity or Religion,” said Amaze.

“My inspiration was to educate voters to vote right and not base on ethnicity, scholarships, or religious background.”

The song was one of 15 finalists and selected as the best multimedia entry from among dozens of entries from across the globe by a panel of judges and almost 1,500 online voters worldwide.

Amaze, whose name is Henry Amazin Toe, started his music career at age 14 in Guinea. He is currently a Hipco Accountability Ambassador who mentors other underground artists to create music for social change. Hipco is a genre of dance music that blends hip-hop, R&B and traditional Liberian music with lyrics in colloquial dialects spoken in Liberia.  Amaze said he has always wanted to use music for social change and has been producing social change songs for six years now.

Said Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS Youth Working Group coordinator: “The aim of this contest was to give a space for young people to express a vision for the kind of democracy they desire. It was also an opportunity to mobilise young creative minds from every corner of the globe, offering a platform to amplify their messages related to the respect of democratic values and social justice.”

“In a world where information is shared with so much hate, discrimination and stigmatisation, we want to enable arts to be a tool to share messages of hope, justice and equality,” said Novoa.

Prizes for the winners include a USD300 cash prize to be donated to a social change organisation of their choice.

Contestants submitted entries in three creative arts categories: written arts, which included poems, short stories and essays of 500 words or less; visual arts, which included drawings, paintings, cartoons and photography; and multimedia arts, which included short films of no longer than 2 minutes and songs.

Cláudia Cassoma, a young published author from Angola, impressed judges with her piece entitled “Chave Mestra” (Master Key), which explores the power of education, to win the written arts category. The visual arts category winner was Vandita Sariya from India, whose cartoon was inspired by a surge in intolerance she has witnessed in recent times in her country.

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