Long Beach High Sophomore Writes Winning Lyrics in Verizon's 'Read-to-Rap' Contest

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LOS ANGELES -- Thomas Myrie, a 15-year-old high-school sophomore from Long Beach, Calif., is the winner of Verizon's first "Read-to-Rap" lyric-writing contest. He will perform his winning lyrics this Thursday during Verizon Music Festival's free outdoor concert at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.

The concert also will feature Toshi Reagon, Ozomatli and Mia Doi Todd each with a unique sound that appeals to the diverse music tastes of Los Angeles, from folksy blues to high-energy hip-hop and Latino to Asian influences.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors from ten high schools in the Greater Los Angeles area were invited to participate in the contest. Verizon's Read-to-Rap contest was designed to build awareness of literacy issues and of the connection between literacy, music and employment. The contest gives students an opportunity to display their talent, promote their school and show rap music's constructive potential.

Thomas Myrie is an A student, plays football and basketball, and hopes to attend UCLA or USC. In addition to the chance to perform, he will receive a $1,000 gift certificate to spend with businesses that advertise in the Verizon SuperPages. Verizon publishes the nation's leading print and electronic yellow pages directories: SuperPages and SuperPages.com.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School, which Myrie attends, will receive a $5,000 grant from Verizon Foundation for library and technology improvements. Verizon Foundation is Verizon's philanthropic arm.

"Thomas' use of literary references were a delight in looking at this writing sample," said Hannibal Tabu, experiences lifestyle editor for AOL Digital City and contest judge. "The cadences and phrasings he used also showed a desire to step beyond the often tempting simplicities of rhyming couplets. Overall, the piece showed a refreshing amount of ability that used several methods from traditional poetry as well as a solid founding in hip-hop lyricism." Note: See the winning lyrics at the end of this release.

In addition to Tabu, the panel of judges included Wil-Dog, founder of Ozomatli - a ten piece band playing hip-hop, salsa, funk and jazz; and Garth Trinidad, host of the award-winning, urban-inspired, music program Chocolate City on 89.9 FM, KCRW.

"As part of our signature philanthropy program -- Verizon Reads -- Verizon constantly looks for ways to connect with different audiences to build awareness of literacy," said Tim McCallion, president, Pacific Region at Verizon. "A great way to make the connection with young people is to show how reading and writing can lead to a cash award as well as an exciting opportunity to perform music they love."

The Verizon Music Festival opened in Los Angeles yesterday and runs through Oct. 6. The four-city festival began in New York last month and will move on to Washington, D.C., and Tampa, Fla., later this month.

To learn more about Verizon Reads, Verizon Foundation and the company's other philanthropic efforts, check out the Verizon philanthropy press kit at www.verizon.com/news.

The latest information about the Verizon Music Festival is available online at www.verizon.com/musicfestival.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 135.1 million access line equivalents and 30.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 241,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.


Verizon Read-to-Rap Contest:
Winning Lyrics

"Table of Contents"

Look, without reading, it must be a boring life you're leading.
You cannot find out that Johnny Tremain was succeeding, and in Romeo and Juliet Mercutio began bleeding.
Like a book that teaches behavior could teach the illiterate to be a bit more considerate.
Do not worry my friend if you cannot read.
No matter what is your age, it is never too late to pick up a book and flip a page.
Instead of using drugs and encouraging violence, you should lay out a rug and read in silence.
Education is the key to success, and out of all hobbies reading has to be the best.
I am saying the way to succeeding is reading, it has to be necessary, because it will boost up your grades, and build your vocabulary.
Other than reading there is something else I detect, and dilemma is respect.
It has to be one of the most important things used today, make sure everything that comes out of your mouth is something God would say, in a way, that the person you're addressing feels OK.
You will miss out on life if you do not read enough, because if you plan on going to college it is going to be tough.
Now pass that class with an "A" in English, you can just read my rhyme as I sing this.

Thomas Myrie,
Copyright 2002

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