Battle of the Bands is the much-anticipated annual event of the Junior Ambassadors. Each year it brings new levels of participation, leadership, and action from area high school students, as well as an evening of enthusiastic fun for musicians and concertgoers of all ages.
Last year introduced a unique individual into the Junior Ambassadors. Phillip Gragg, then a Booker T. Washington junior, was a member of the Junior Ambassadors in addition to competing in Battle of the Bands. He won both the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards in the Singer/Songwriter category.
Involvement with the Food Bank was largely due to a nudge from Phillip’s mother. He had passed by the Food Bank several times on his way to school. He didn’t give it a lot of thought until his mom told him a little about what the Food Bank does. He followed up by looking at the Food Bank website and discovered the impact made in the community. As a result, he felt empowered to get involved in the fight against hunger.
Participating in the Junior Ambassadors brings many rewards for Phillip starting with new friends from different schools, “I have enjoyed working with so many great people and creative minds. It was really cool to see all these young people so motivated to make an impact in the community.”
Phillip eagerly awaits Hunger Action Day, the Junior Ambassadors upcoming trip to the Oklahoma Capitol. There they will have the opportunity to practice skills needed to educate legislators on issues of hunger in Oklahoma. Phillip hopes to take those skills and energy to a new collegiate home next year.
A student of theater at Booker T., Phillip performs in plays and various shows at school. However, last year’s Battle of the Bands was the first time he played his own music for such a large crowd. Performing on stage, singing his original music and getting the crowd’s reaction “boosted” him to write more music and put out an EP.
“The music that I tend to make I don’t hear around much, so it was really intimidating going in front of an audience. But it was a fun experience when I discovered they liked the music I was making. I can’t wait for this year’s performance.”
For this year’s set, Phillip said he will have “louder” stage presence. The style of his music has changed from R & B ballad type songs to more vocally challenging pop and hip-hop. Phillip has put more thought into the production of his backing music adding such items as drums and bass beyond the basic piano tracks. His lyrics also have greater depth incorporating thoughts and emotions from recent experiences. He promises a more upbeat performance from last year’s award-winning act.
In addition to the thrilling stage experience, Phillip parlayed last year’s prizes into new tools for his career. “I used the studio time at Closet Studio with Kendal Osborne to record my EP, which is coming out March 15. He is such a great, talented engineer. It was also a great experience getting the logo made at Angel Adams Media. She responded so quickly and I didn’t want any changes to what she gave me, it was perfect.”
Phillip has applied to Howard University and USC where he would like to study acting. We wish him the best competing in the 2019 Battle of the Bands and in his future studies and activism.