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People & Places

Rapper wins again

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Paul E. Kandarian
May 8, 2008

Nyles "Witness" Houston has rapped his way to a summer music scholarship - again.

Houston, 17, of Brockton, a junior at Brockton High School, was named the second-place winner of the third annual "Take Back the Music Hip-Hop Songwriting Contest" sponsored by Essence magazine and Berklee College of Music. In 2006, he won second place in the contest.

For his winning entry this year, "The Gamble," Houston was awarded a tuition-free admission in the Berklee five-week summer performance program, the same prize awarded him two years ago

"It was a great experience," said Houston, a self-described Christian rapper. "I met the first-place winners and a lot of other people, and learned a lot of things about music besides rap."

Houston is one of six children, and his mother, Shirley, is a minister. The family is active at Lincoln Congregational Church in Brockton, and the young man gleaned his nickname "Witness" from his Christianity, he said, adding that as a Christian rapper "it's me witnessing to other people about God."

Houston is not sure what road he will take after high school, but for now, he says, "I'll push what I'm doing as a Gospel rapper. Maybe later I'll do something besides rap; I'm still looking. My career will probably be in music, but for now, I'm not sure."

According to one of the contest judges, Prince Charles Alexander, associate professor of music production and engineering at Berklee, Houston's composition "uses the rhythms, verbal intensity, flow and metaphoric techniques of a seasoned rapper," and "deftly critiques the wasted potential of his theoretical protagonist with a flexible use of the English language. Nyles also chose a great beat to rhyme over."

The contest's two grand prize winners, from Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and Houston have been invited by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to perform at the 2008 Peace Hip-Hop Festival at Boston's City Hall Plaza on Aug. 2.

The winners were chosen from more than 40 submissions by songwriters between the ages of 15 and 19 nationwide. In a first round of judging, a group of Berklee students and Essence employees picked 10 finalists, and then five were chosen by a panel of hip-hop celebrity judges.

To hear Houston's song, visit essence.com/essence/takebackthemusic/contest/10finalists_08.html.

TOP STUDENTS: Greg Burke (inset), a senior at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, has been chosen as the winner of the Principal's Leadership Award Scholarship, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals on behalf of Herff Jones Inc. Burke was first chosen as one of 100 state winners from among 4,500 and then named a regional winner. Nine were chosen out of the regional pool.

Bridget Bearden of Braintree has been named a Boardroom Leadership Scholar at Suffolk University's Sawyer Business School. Twenty graduating MBA students were selected as members of the program. To be considered for the program, students must meet the requirements for graduation; write a 500-word essay on what it takes to be a leader in today's global business world; and show leadership capability, skills, and interest.

MISS SOUTHCOAST: Molly Whalen (inset) of Middleborough has been crowned Miss Southcoast 2008. She will compete in the Miss Massachusetts pageant on June 27 and 28 at Bristol Community College in Fall River. Whalen, who plans to attend the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in the fall, is now a student at Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gregory Hall (inset) of Hingham Real Estate has been awarded the Realtor Emeritus Award from the National Association of Realtors. The award was giving in recognition of 40 years of membership in the national group and for his contributions to the profession.

Dr. Vandana Khera of Walpole has joined the internal medicine staff at Caritas Norwood Hospital. She specializes in geriatric medicine, and is a member of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Arvind Bansal of North Providence, R.I., has also joined the hospital staff. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine. In his position, he collaborates with directors of the Caritas Center for Sleep Medicine at the hospital.

Nicole Condon of Rockland has joined Empire Real Estate in that town as a real estate sales agent and office manager. She is a member of the Plymouth and South Shore boards of Realtors and the Massachusetts Board of Realtors. She is responsible for overseeing Empire's office operations and administrative staff.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at kandarian@globe.com.

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