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Mendham teen wins 1st prize in state music competition

May 12, 2011

 

Aryan Mahyar, 15, of Mendham, won first place at the Seventh Annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 5.
 
Aryan Mahyar, 15, of Mendham, won first place at the Seventh Annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 5. / Photo courtesy The Partnership for a Drug-Free Ne
Aryan Mahyar, 15, of Mendham, won first place at the Seventh Annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 5.
Aryan Mahyar, 15, of Mendham, won first place at the Seventh Annual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 5. / Photo courtesy The Partnership for a Drug-Free Ne

When it came time to announce the winners of the SeventhAnnual New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Competition last week, 15-year-old Aryan Mahyar was hoping for a spot in second or third place.

So for Aryan, it felt like a “dream” when his name was called to take home first prize in the competition at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center last Thursday.

“This whole experience and this whole event that I went through, it still feels like a dream,” said Aryan, of Mendham, and a freshmen at West Morris Mendham High School.

Aryan was one of 43 contestants from 18 counties in the state to compete at the annual competition which showcases students’ original songs and lyrics that carry substance abuse prevention messages.

The competition is hosted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Comcast.

Aryan’s winning song, which he wrote for the contest, is called “Make a Stand.” Another Morris County student, Whippany Park High School junior Taylor Willis, was part of a duo that won third place honors.

Contestants performed before a live audience and a panel of judges, and winners were awarded music contracts to represent the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey at events throughout the state over the next year.

Fans were also able to vote for their favorite song online. This year, 160,000 votes were cast for the contest and factored into final scores.

Aryan, whose first-placed contract is worth $5,000, will begin touring the state performing his rap song in the next few weeks. He already has shows lined up in Princeton and Atlantic City, he said.

The young performer will be touring his song for the first time before live audiences, but, his work has already made an imprint online.

Every week Aryan uploads a new original song or beat — which he creates using a keyboard, his vocals and computer software —to his YouTube page, XPhazeTV, dubbed after his stage name X-Phaze. The page, set up about a year ago, records more than 1,500 subscribers and more than 115,000 views.

Eventually, Aryan hopes to be a professional recording artist, and his online following and recent win at the competition are paving the way for him to get there, he says.

And though Aryan is excited to have won the competition, the most important part of the whole experience, he said, was being able to spread a message about being drug free. The message, he said, that “even though we all encounter challenging moments in our life, we can still be strong enough to overcome them without substance abuse.”

More information about the Shout Down Drugs contest, as well as finalists’ performances, can be found at www.shoutdowndrugs.com.

Vanessa Vera Roman: 973-428-6574;vveraroman@njpressmedia.com

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