Monrovia – Accountability Lab Liberia has awarded Hellen Smith, an emerging gospel musical artist, as the winner of this year’s Rap2Rep musical campaign – a special feature that places high emphasis on coronavirus awareness messaging.

Rap2Rep is a musical campaign organized by the Accountability Lab Liberia that began 2015. It is a campaign that gives local artists an opportunity to use music as a tool for social change.

The campaign has built a network of Hipco (Liberian style of music) artists that includes musicians who produce socially conscious music and are passionate about using their voices to advocate for the change they hope to see in Liberia.

Over the past five years, musicians in the Rap2Rep campaign have been able to use their powerful voices to address issues of corruption, civil engagement, voting rights and responsibilities, youth and women empowerment and national political leadership, electoral reform, and issues of social development and welfare.

But this year’s campaign, styled Rep2Rep coronavirus music campaign, which is sponsored by the United States Embassy, places high emphasis on awareness against the novel Coronavirus and how to spread information to communities about preventing COVID-19.

Speaking at iCampus on Carey Street over the weekend, Robert Tanookpuwah, the Educational and Cultural Affairs Assistant of the Public Affairs Section at the US Embassy, lauded the creativity of Liberians artists – both established and emerging artists.

“You have done impressive and powerful work. So, on behalf of the US Mission, I would like to say thank you. Raising awareness effectively is a key principle for any public health mitigation strategy,” Tanookpuwah said.

Also speaking, the Country Director of Accountability Lab Liberia, Lawrence Yealue, said he was happy that the competition has given the opportunity to young people to use their talents to transform the country and change social behavior.

“Accountability Lab is working with young people using their musical talents to preach consciousness and social change,” Yealue said, adding it was the first competition hosted online during the pandemic.

“The musical industry is growing but Liberians need to stop buying piracted works. You are committing bad action against the artists. You are not helping the artists to grow,” Yealue stressed.

The first winner was given US$300 and the second winner was given US$200, while they were also rewarded with recording opportunities.

Miss Smith, the winner of this year’s Rap2Rep campaign, said she was glad to be the winner of the competition. Smith told journalists after the event that she has produced many songs but because of lack finance, none of her music had left the studio.

She said: “Actually, I wrote this song on the beach. It was very challenging. I sat down and put my mind to work. I started thinking that ‘we are writing about coronavirus, so what are those things like the cause, the effect and how we can prevent them?’ I began to write down a few things like washing your hands, using nose masks, avoiding social gathering, and based on these items, I began to write my music.”

This article was originally published in Front Page Africa.