And the Grammys experience goes to ...

Warwick sophomore Chloe Borthwick to attend Grammys to acknowledge ‘Teen Make Music’ second-place competition win

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  • Chloe BorthwickþÄôs first introduction to music began with the piano at age four, with her interest continuing to grow into a major part of her life as she matured.

  • Photos by Bobby Curreri Chloe Borthwick, a Warwick High School sophomore and second-place winner in the "Teens Make Music" song writing competition, is headed California to attend a backstage tour while artists rehearse for the annual 58th Grammys. The awards ceremony will be held Feb. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be hosted by LL Cool J.

By Christine Urio

— It’s off to the Grammys for Chloe Borthwick, a Warwick Valley High School sophomore and second-place winner in the “Teens Make Music” song writing competition.

According to “Above the Influence,” the Grammy Foundation sponsored contest, and MusiCares, a nonprofit organization that provides critical, emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery to those in the music industry, the competition was for “musicians between the ages of 14 to 18 to submit an original piece of music that celebrates life above the influence, or brings attention to the real-life consequences of substance abuse.”

‘A creative experience’
Upon receiving the news, Borthwick was both excited and overwhelmed by the prospect of attending the backstage tour while artists rehearse for the annual 58th Grammys.

“I know I’m going to California, and to the Grammys, but I want it to be about my music—and not just that I have a good voice,” she said. “I want it to be a good creative experience.”

Borthwick found out about the contest while applying for the Grammys summer camp and she found the ad that linked her to the Grammy Foundation website.

“There was an immediate connection,” Borthwick said. “I had been writing about the same topics they were looking for in the contest, so I sent a video in through YouTube.”

While this was a grueling creative experience, it proved to be an extensive learning experience for Borthwick as well.

“The biggest things I’ve realized is that I’m always singing and people are always complimenting my voice, but not myself as an artist,” said Borthwick. “I have learned that being individual and learning to write and create your own personal beliefs and wants is the most important thing; I’ve learned that writing music is such a good outlet and it’s a relieving thing to do, and since I’ve started discovering this, I’ve increasingly done it more and more.”

Borthwick has gotten nothing but positive feedback from her family and friends.

“Everyone that knows of the contest is very supportive and doesn’t judge me because of the drug awareness thing because they know me, but not as many know [about the contest] as you would think,” she said. “I think that’s partly because the arts are underrated across the country, and it’s a struggle for artists to be recognized for what they are, while athletes are put in the spotlight, and music, too, is a big thing.”

‘Staying above the influence’
For her piece, “Hardly Breathe,” Borthwick drew on experiences she encountered during her younger years.

“It’s about me being with a group of friends that started changing and experimenting with drugs as we were transitioning into high school,” she said. “They weren’t being true to who they were and were continuously doing it, and the song is about feeling so irritated and helpless in the midst of it.”

As reflected in her song, Borthwick feels strongly about topics such as “staying above the influence.”

“In high school it’s a cool thing to try drugs and ‘you haven’t become someone’ until you’ve done them,” she said. “I don’t think you should need something that alters your brain to have fun with other people. I advocate for standing up for yourself and what you believe, and this is something I definitely feel strongly about.”

Borthwick’s first introduction to music began with the piano at age four, with her interest continuing to grow into a major part of her life as she matured.

“I’ve been playing piano and oboe for large portions of my life, and started singing as a fluke when I performed for fun in a talent show, I didn’t think anything of it, but more and more people thought I was good,” she said. “I started doing open mics and I work with other musicians somewhat frequently, so I rehearse a lot.”

Additionally, she has begun to classify herself as not just a singer, but a songwriter as well.

“Sometimes inspiration strikes and I’ll try to act on it in a timely manner,” Borthwick said. “I usually write lyrics after a melody develops in my head, and when I start writing, I try to finish the lyrics and have some idea of how I want it to go in my head so I can bring it to the piano to write chords, otherwise I’ll get distracted and stop to move on to another song.”

However, singing has proven to be her most fervent passion.

“I like singing because I feel like I am good enough at it that I can do things that are different and make it my own,” said Borthwick. “When it comes to piano or oboe, I’m reading music and chords—singing is an individual thing.”

Indigo Girls, Counting Crows, Adele

Borthwick has been shaped by and drawn inspiration from artists such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Sara Bareilles and other singer/songwriters.

“When I think of them as musical inspirations, it’s more the emotion they put into their singing and writing, which I similarly try to put poetry and emotions into my songs and performances, which is why I connect myself with those people,” she said. “The Indigo Girls are the best song writers and inspired me to start song writing. Counting Crows have such poetic music. For different people there’s different reasons to like music, but for me it’s mostly emotion and poetic lyrics.”

With her keen insight and inherent musical talent, Borthwick foresees music as a constant staple in her life.

“I intend for it to be a career—it’s been a major thing throughout my life for years now, whether it be oboe or writing songs, it’s just a good place to go when you don’t have anything else to do,” she said. “I definitely aspire for it to be part of my future.”

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