Your Voice is Power fall 2021 winners announced

Your Voice is Power

The votes are in! After listening to amazing music remixes from students across Canada, the judges have selected the Grand Prize Winners of the 2021 Canada Your Voice is Power competition. Congratulations to students Mary Penta Reddy and Saumya Tiku and to our winning teacher, Mr. Turner Ruetz.

Amazon Future Engineer teamed up with YELLOW, the education equity nonprofit founded by visionary recording artist Pharrell Williams, TakingITGlobal, and the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer its project-based computer science program, Your Voice is Power, to middle and high school students in Canada. The program challenges students to remix beats while learning the fundamentals of computer science. Through Your Voice is Power, students voice their opinions on social justice and equity through music while using Georgia Tech’s learn-to-code-through-music platform, EarSketch.

The top winners of Your Voice is Power discovered they won the $5,000 grand prize through a surprise visit from Susan Ibach, head of Amazon in the Community, Canada. “It was wonderful to have the chance to meet the students in person. Saumya and Mary truly captured the spirit of the competition with their songs. I am so inspired by them and all of the students who participate in Your Voice is Power,” said Ibach. “Meeting them at school also gave me a chance to thank their teachers. So many teachers work tirelessly behind the scenes to seek out new opportunities like this to get their students excited about coding.”

Meet our winners

Saumya Tiku

Saumya is a sophomore from Merivale High School in Ottawa, Ontario. She received a $5,000 to support her post-secondary education or to start a business. Being a visible minority herself, Saumya empathized with the struggles and hardships the Black community has faced and was motivated to help break down these racial barriers. She was greatly inspired by Black entrepreneurs, such as Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z, who have accomplished so much despite the adversities and social injustice they continue to face to this day. Saumya hopes to continue to use her voice to raise awareness and be a part of the change to achieve racial equity within her community. She included audio clips from Pharrell and Jay-Z’s song “Entrepreneur,” Ciara’s “Set,” Richard Devine, Young Guru. Her song also includes a verse she wrote and performed herself. Saumya plans to study Medicine and help underprivileged communities while also using computer science, particularly machine learning, within the medical field. “Although this entire experience started as any other school assignment, this competition has inspired me to continue sharing my voice to promote racial equity and encourage others to become advocates and allies as well,” said Tiku. “Additionally, I have learned a lot about Python, APIs and the widespread use of programming in various industries, including music. I am excited to continue exploring my new interest in computer science and use it to create change in all aspects of life!”

Check out Saumka’s song below

Mary Penta Reddy

Mary is a sophomore from J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate High School in Ajax, Ontario. She received a $5,000 grant to support her post-secondary education or to start a business. Her entry was inspired by black excellence day and the increased unemployment during the pandemic, and included audio clips from Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Mary plans to study for university and pursue her interest in computer science. “It was a fun experience to try new things by coding with Python to create music. I had a great time participating and got more knowledgeable about the lives of black entrepreneurs, when researching for the remix!” said Penta Reddy.

Check out Mary’s song below

Turner Ruetz

Mr. Ruetz, our winning teacher, is from St. Anthony’s School in Kincardine, Ontario. He teaches music from grades 1 to 8, and is being honoured with a $1,000 prize for going above and beyond to help his students.

Armed with coding experience in his background, he knew adding Your Voice is Power into his music lessons would provide a unique way to engage students in artistic creation using computer science! Students even approached him in the schoolyard with questions about how to do write code to make changes to their music remix.

“Your Voice is Power has been such a powerful and engaging program for my students and me. From rich and meaningful conversations to building confidence in one’s ability to create music, this has been extremely impactful and memorable,” said Ruetz.

We are also pleased to acknowledge our four Runners Up, who each won a $250 gift card:

And our ten Honourable Mentions, who each won a $25 gift card:

Student remixes were judged by a panel of Amazon engineers, Amazon Music team members, computer scientists, academics, and music industry professionals. Winners were chosen based on the quality of music, complexity and organization of their code, and their inclusion of thoughtful messaging and calls to action about the importance of racial justice. 

As our Your Voice is Power remix competition featuring artist Pharrell Williams comes to a close, we invite teachers and students to participate in our latest Your Voice is Power Canada offering, featuring songs by Indigenous artists. Learn more by visiting Your Voice is Power.

The competition will return in the 2022/2023 school year, as students continue to Make Beats. Learn Code. Promote Equity.