Diane Warren to Judge A Capella Contest for Oscar-Nominated 'Til It Happens to You'

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Diane Warren

Diane Warren talks to THR about the contest and who she'll bring as her date to the Oscars.

Attention collegiate a capella groups: Winning a contest inspired by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren's Oscar-nominated song "Til It Happens to You" is something that can happen to you.

The It’s On Us campaign has partnered with the documentary The Hunting Ground (the Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering doc about rape on college campuses in which the song appears) and ROK Mobile for “Til It Happens to You: Sing for Survivors,” an a cappella contest created to give a larger platform to the voices of those fighting the crisis of sexual assault.

The winning group will participate in a Skype master class with eight-time Oscar nominee Warren and 16-time Grammy winner David Foster, among other prizes. The top three videos will be picked by popular vote, while a group of judges will be in charge of choose the winning group based on vocal and visual performance. Judges include Pentatonix, LL Cool J, Trudy Green, Cynthia Germanotta, Bonnie Greenberg, Foster and Warren. More information on the contest can be found here.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Warren about the contest, her Oscar nomination and who she is bringing as her date to the Academy Awards on Feb. 28.
 
This seems like a natural fit — taking the song back to college campuses. Why did you decide to partner on this project?

This [contest] was [entertainment industry activist] Bonnie Abaunza's idea, which I love. It’s a fantastic idea, and the song is so healing, so the fact that it’s going back to colleges in this way is amazing. Here it comes from a movie about what goes on on college campuses, and now the song itself has got a life of its own, giving a voice to it and it will now literally give voices to it.
 
How did the panel of judges come together?

I am good friends with David [Foster] and I’m working with LL Cool J on his new record, and he seemed like a natural fit. Trudy Green is amazing manager, who has managed Michael Jackson and now Aerosmith and others, and she wanted to be a part of it. Bonnie [Greenberg] is a very successful music supervisor, and she got me involved in this movie in the first place. It’s a really cool team involved.
 
What will you be looking for in a winner?

That’s a good question. You know, I guess you don’t know until you hear it, do you? I’m sure there are going to be so many amazing versions of the song and all these kids can sing. We’ll see. I can’t wait to hear what everybody does.
 
What are the responses you’ve been getting from students?

It’s not only just students — obviously those are so important within the context of the movie and it’s really resonating profoundly and deeply there — but it’s also resonating in the culture, too. For so long, it was hidden in the shadows and closets and no one talked about it. This song gave a voice to the movement, and to larger movements and issues including depression and bullying. I’ve never gotten this kind of a response before; people are really so deeply moved by the song and are reaching out on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere. I got on a plane a few weeks back and the flight attendant asked to hug me because she wanted to say, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’ And I met Vice President [Joe] Biden a few months back and he looked in my eyes and said, ‘This song is doing more than any speech I could give.’ Music is so powerful and a song is so powerful, and for this song to be doing that is amazing.
 
How does it feel to have the words “eight-time Oscar nominee” attached to your name?

It feels great. It will feel better if it says ‘eight-time nominee and one-time winner.’ But it is great being nominated; there are a lot of songs released every year and to be included in that is great. I almost had a heart attack when they announced the nominations because ours was announced fourth. This song is just one of those kind of songs — it has so much impact. The fact that this has become an anthem for a whole movement, not just on college campuses, but everywhere, is great. We are survivors and we are activists, and I say ‘we’ because I’ve had my own past with this.
 
Who will you take to the Oscars?

I have to take Bonnie Greenberg, that was my promise. I said if we get nominated, then we will go together. So she is my Oscar date, and it’s going to be great.
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