I’ve been following the work of the Play It Strange Trust for a few years now as it seeks to showcase talented young musicians from secondary schools across New Zealand. Each year the Trust runs a songwriting competition in conjunction with the Lion Foundation, NZ on Air, the Rock Shop, and a number of other key supporters. And each year the best of the entrants are able to have their compositions professionally recorded and produced, before that work is then released in a digital format on an annual compilation album (there were CDs released a few years ago, I’m not sure whether or not that remains the case).
That though is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the Trust achieves – there are other competitions and a whole range of support functions as it seeks to nurture and promote the country’s best up-and-coming young musical talent. The Trust’s CEO is one Mike Chunn (ex-Split Enz, Citizen Band, former head of Mushroom Records) and its Board of Trustees includes the heavyweight likes Brendan Smyth (NZ on Air), actor Sam Neill, and ex-All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick … so it’s fair to say it has some clout and reach.
We live in an age where so many aspiring young musicians and/or singers are easily distracted or sidetracked by the prospect of instant fame, or offered one dimensional profiles via glorified talent quests like X-Factor and Idol. Those shows amount to little more than throwaway entertainment fare for the masses, so it’s heartening to see long-haul organisations like Play It Strange providing alternative paths and frameworks for genuine talent to prosper.
This year’s songwriting competition was won by Grace Wood of St Kentigern College in Auckland for ‘Young, Naïve, and Reckless’ (oh how we wish!) …
Grab a free download of the 2015 compilation from the Play It Strange Bandcamp page: