2020 Visual Art & Songwriting Contest

What does sound look like?

What do you feel and see when you listen to music?

What role does music play in our life and culture?

What do music and visual art have in common?

How has the connection between music and art evolved over time?




For both the art and songwriting competition, we ask students to explore the connection between music and visual art through an original work of art or song. Students may use the questions above as inspiration in creating their work or can interpret the theme in their own unique way. There is no GPA requirement, and it is not required that the student study art or music to be eligible for a scholarship award. 


All high school juniors and seniors in the state of Louisiana are eligible to apply. Contest judges will select 15 finalists to share $45,000 in college scholarships. Following the Scholarship Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2020, the 15 winning entries will travel on public view for one year as an exhibition at museums and cultural venues across Louisiana.

Individual visual artwork will be judged on the following three criteria:

  • Concept/Design: Does the artwork address the theme in a clear and inventive way?  (1/3 score)
  • Technical Skill: Does the artwork show an understanding of visual art principles such as use of color, shading, light, and form?  (1/3 score)
  • Creativity: Does the artwork showcase an original point of view? Does it provide a fresh perspective on the theme?  (1/3 score)

Please click here to read our Terms and Conditions for the 2020 Scholarship Art Contest.

Enter 2020 Visual Art Contest



All high school juniors and seniors in the state of Louisiana are eligible to apply. A selection of three finalists will share $10,000 in college scholarships. Following the Scholarship Awards Luncheon on March 21, 2020, the three finalists will have a chance to record their winning songs in a state-of-the-art professional recording studio under the mentorship of Grammy winning producers and engineers, and then perform their song on stage during the Trombone Shorty Foundation’s annual “Shorty Fest” benefit concert during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Songwriting submissions will be scored by a panel of celebrity judges including: Troy Andrews (Trombone Shorty), Tank Ball (Tank and the Bangas), Anders Osborne, John Batiste, and more. Click HERE for a full list, and to learn more about our Songwriting Contest Judges.

Song submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Structure and Composition: Does the song have clearly identifiable sections (verse, chorus, etc)? Is the song between 2-5 minutes? Does the song have a clear theme and cohesive structure? Does the music have an identifiable rhyme scheme or pattern? (1/3 score)
  • Melody: Does the song have continuity and coherence in melody, as well as tone and style? Does the song offer something unique, different, and totally original? Does the music keep the listener interested and engaged?  (1/3 score)
  • Lyrics: Are the lyrics creative and original? Do they inspire an emotional or visceral reaction from the listener? Do the music and lyrics fit together in a cohesive way?  (1/3 score)

Please click here to read our Terms and Conditions for the 2020 Scholarship Songwriting Contest.

Please note, that in order to complete your application for the 2020 Songwriting Contest, you must create a profile on SoundCloud, upload your music sample, and post the shared link to your application.

STEP 1: Visit www.soundcloud.com > create an account/ profile > upload your music >  copy shared SoundCloud link to your music

STEP 2: Enter the GRFA Songwriting contest and complete all required information.  Paste your SongCloud link in the field labeled "SoundCloud link with your music sample"

STEP 3: Finish application and hit submit





This year, The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts is expanding its Annual Scholarship Art Contest with the addition of its Inaugural Scholarship Songwriting Competition, providing a platform for both visual artists and songwriters across Louisiana to showcase their work. In partnership with the Trombone Shorty Foundation, GRFA will award three new scholarships to young songwriters across Louisiana, along with additional professional development opportunities for the contest winners. Songwriters can now submit their original song and lyrics for a chance to win.

Throughout history, music and visual art have shared many connections and similarities: Both require creative expression, the use of a chosen instrument or tool and the use of structure and composition. Through both mediums, the artist or songwriter expresses emotions, ideas and tells stories in a way which can be interpreted by the viewer or listener. From cave drawings of musical instruments, to renaissance portraits of musicians, to contemporary album covers and music videos, these two artistic genres have been intertwined since their inception.

For visual artist George Rodrigue, music served as inspiration, a soundtrack and an outlet for his creativity. He was a lifelong fan of music; he used some of his favorite musicians as the subjects for, and inspirations behind several of his paintings,playfully used song lyrics as the titles of his works, and often listened to music as he painted. In 2007, when Rodrigue painted the “Rodrigue Steinway,” a 100-year-old Steinway piano, Rodrigue asked himself the question: “What does music look like?” The result was a series of swirling sound waves, combined with the iconic Blue Dog, creating a unique fusion of art and music.


About the Art Contest

The Annual Scholarship Art Contest is a unique way for us to honor the legacy of George Rodrigue while celebrating the talent and creativity of Louisiana high school students. Since the first Art Contest in 2010, GRFA has awarded over $475,000 in college scholarships through this program, providing much-needed financial support for young people pursuing higher education.

This visual arts competition encourages individual participation in the arts and is open to all Louisiana high school juniors and seniors, regardless of grade point average or intended college major. Students from public, private, charter, and home schools are invited to enter. As of 2020, the Annual Scholarship Art Contest will now also be open to songwriters thanks to a partnership with the Trombone Shorty Foundation.

About the Trombone Shorty Foundation

 The Trombone Shorty Foundation’s mission is to inspire the next generation of musically talented opportunity youth through music education, instruction, mentorship, and performance. By honoring the New Orleans tradition of “playing it forward” from the earliest jazz legends onward, the foundation seeks to preserve and perpetuate the musical heritage of a city where music is everything. Experienced and professional teachers, tutors, and mentors support every student in the pursuit of a well-rounded understanding of New Orleans’ musical traditions, experience in music performance, reading, writing, and now, even business, and the social and academic skills they need to make noise wherever they go – in music and in life.



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