Holly pens peace winner

01:43, Jan 31 2009
WINNING PEACE: Play It Strange chief executive Mike Chunn congratulates Holly Cramer-Roberts, 16, the winner of the first Peace Song Awards songwriting competition.

She’s talented, eloquent and has a conscience.

At just 16, Holly Cramer-Roberts is stepping into the spotlight with polish and aplomb – and absolutely no airs.

The Glendowie College student is the delighted winner of the inaugural Peace Song Awards songwriting competition run by Play It Strange and the Waitakere City Council.

Holly’s song Unite is inspired by the stance taken by Te Whiti o Rongomai at Parihaka, Taranaki, in 1881.

It was selected from 51 entries from across the country.

As part of her prize she will record the song professionally and it will appear on a double CD of winning songs from this year’s Play It Strange National Secondary School Songwriting Competition.

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"The chance to record a song professionally is so exciting," she says.

"I’ve been writing songs for ages, just because I love it. I love the process and finding ways to express what I’m seeing and hearing and feeling. But this is the first time I’ve won anything," Holly says.

Holly recorded her debut CD, One Road, under her stage name, Holly Christina, earlier this year.

Some of the 10 tracks tracing the teen’s observations on life have been uploaded to YouTube.

"I did the CD in one take and I wasn’t happy with the chords for Unite and changed them just before I recorded it, so I am looking forward to doing it better," she says.

Play It Strange chief executive Mike Chunn says Unite was a clear favourite with the judges because of its originality.

"Holly is possibly one of the most dedicated and motivated young songwriters I’ve met and her work has an edge, that something different. It meets the criteria without being cheesy or obvious," he says.

"You want something that keeps the listener going back to it."

He says this year is the 21st anniversary of the signing of legislation making New Zealand nuclear-free, so the decision to run a songwriting competition based on peace was appropriate.

The idea for the competition and $1000 prizemoney was put to Play It Strange by a member of the public who asked to remain anonymous.

Holly learned of her win at a function in west Auckland last Wednesday.

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey is the New Zealand Peace Foundation president and lauded both Holly and the competition.

"This competition will grow as big as any music awards in the country," he says.

The Play It Strange Charitable Trust was established in November 2003 to encourage young New Zealanders to develop interests and skills in songwriting and musical performance

East And Bays Courier