Abigail Barlow, Jensen McRae & Ayoni Thompson Win 2021 Scholarships from Songwriters Hall of Fame
June 11, 2021
Abe Olman Scholarship Recipients
About Abigail Barlow
As a songwriter and performer, Abigail caught Meghan Trainor's attention when a song Abigail wrote went viral on TikTok, gaining over 2.2 million views and beginning a lasting collaboration and mentorship between them. Her recent single “Heartbreak Hotel” topped the iTunes Pop Chart at #6 and obtained over 200k streams on Spotify in less than 48 hours. To date, it has 7.4 million streams on Spotify. Through her TikTok views, she came to the attention of Meghan Trainor who became her mentor and collaborator.
Currently, Abigail is part of the team Barlow and Bear - the creators of the viral sensation Bridgerton the Musical, inspired by Netflix’s hit series. Their songs and performances have attracted a massive international fanbase, receiving over 2 million followers and over 36 million likes on TikTok. They have broken new ground by involving their audience in their process every step of the way via social media. Over the course of the past seven weeks, they have been featured in Variety, People, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe and on the BBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Watch Abigail perform and talk about her music with Barlow and Bear as part of The ASCAP Foundation's Inspiring Revolution video series,
About Jensen McRae
Born in Santa Monica and raised in the Woodland Hills suburbs of Los Angeles, in a bi-racial black and Jewish family, McRae was immersed in music at a young age. While in high school, McRae attended GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles and received a full ride to attend the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. She later graduated with a degree in popular music performance.
McRae describes herself as a worldly person and describes her music as folk alternative pop. In 2019 she released her first single, “White Boy,” which garnered attention from Refinery29, Earmilk and Wonderland Magazine. In 2020 she released singles “Wolves” and “The Plague,” which were released at the beginning of the pandemic. McRae was named one of KCRW’s favorite new artists of 2020 and NPR Slingshot’s 2021 Artists to Watch. She has also been included in the #YOUTUBEBLACK Voices Artist Class of 2021.
Jensen recently released a clip playing the imagined first few lines of a Phoebe Bridgers song from a potential album in 2023, spoofing on Bridgers's impeccable wordplay. The clip caught the attention of the "Bridgers"- the tribute clip went viral, streaming over 2.3M times. McRae went into the studio with executive producer Rahki (Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, EarthGang, Kari Faux, Syd, Rejjie Snow, Sampa the Great, etc.) and wrote and recorded a full version of “Immune,” out now.
“Jensen McRae was born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles in a mixed-race family immersed in music. She knew from the first time she heard Alicia Keys streaming through her mother’s stereo as a toddler, she would spend her life making music independently. Now 23, McRae is poised for a monumental 2021 with her long-awaited debut album set to drop any minute now. Though she only has a few songs currently available, each one reveals her to be a songwriter most adept at placing listeners inside her experience, and showing how universal that experience can be.” – Anne Litt, KCRW, NPR 2021 Artist To Watch
IG: @jensenmcrae // TW: @Jensen_McRae // YT: @jensenmcraeofficial
USC Thornton School of Music Scholarship Recipient
The USC Thornton School of Music Scholarship Award is given annually to a student songwriter who demonstrates exceptional professional potential through their art, craft and personal character as determined by the faculty of the Popular Music Program and Division of Contemporary Music.
About Ayoni Thompson
Ayoni Thompson is a senior at Thornton School of Music from Barbados.
Raised in North America, Singapore, and Jakarta, Ayoni reflects her relationship to motion and evolution in her works. A songwriter, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, she communicates her unique perspective and pursuit of freedom in all that she creates.
Her first EP, Iridescent, released in 2019 was a coming-of-age record that molded genres and timeless melodies with carefully crafted lyrics. As she works on her debut album, Ayoni dares to change the future of music by creating disruptive pop music that honors the art of the story.