Acoustic artist and YouTube star AJ Rafael announces the top videos for his "Across the Sea" Contest

AJ Rafael's "Across The Sea" Contest Winners

A message from AJ Rafael:

Dear everyone who entered the "Across the Sea" contest,

First and foremost I'd like to apologize for the delay on the results of this contest. I never intended to keep you all waiting for this long! With that said, I'm happy to finally share the results with you.

It never hit me how much talent I would see in this video responses. I didn't expect anything over 20 video responses for "Across the Sea" (shoutouts to Andrew Kim for yelling out Across the Sea on twitter when I asked for it). When I finally watched ALL of them about 3 weeks ago, I was really touched. Words can't explain what I felt that day.

There's so much creativity out there... It's truly inspiring. So I just want to thank every single one of you who entered... Each of these entries mean so much to me and I wish I never had to choose top videos to win prizes... It was a very hard process.

To those whom I didn't list, please keep making awesome videos-- and know that there will be plenty of these contests from me. This is only the beginning of an awesome & creative journey with all of you.


I tried my best to pick the ones that, to me and some friends and family, truly understood what "Across the Sea" meant to THEM. And trust me, it showed through these videos.

Here's the top 5 of 6, in no particular order:

This guy wrote this so fast after I posted my video-- it amazed me. What a catchy chorus. He took this theme of Across the Sea and put it into a pop-driven acoustic tune, something I feel is his forte and what he loves to do. Subscribe to this dude! Also, please check out
Zoe Yin, she covered this song, and Grant also covered her entry to "Across the Sea" which is AMAZING as well. Her voice is really awesome.  



This poem really hit me for some reason. It was honest, real, and had the theme so perfectly embedded into the rhythm of it. Thanks for your entry man, hope you can share your other writings. Also check out shazebnayani's poem, the rhythm of the piece is similar, and it's amazing writing.


This is a piano improv piece. I thought it was awesome that she did exactly what I did and made a song on the spot. I chose this not just because it was ALSO an improv piece, but I chose it because you can tell she can FEEL the piano in her fingers. And I can relate to that 100%. Jane definitely caught the essence of "Across the Sea".


Young Flip took an idea, and put it into a rap song. A simple idea, but it was executed well. He took "Across the Sea" and put it into what he feels is truly MUSIC. I was hesitant about this one to be honest just because a lot of rap songs can be cliche sometimes, but then saw the honesty in his lyrics-- and it was definitely different from all the other entries. He wasn't scared to make a love song out of it, put a beat to it, and just do his thing.



I'm really happy that she entered this contest. This song is not just a cute love song, it's smart. And I LOVED her charisma and wit. To take the theme "Across the Sea" and turn it into this kind of poppy, cute, love song is genius to me. This is one of my favorite songs at the moment, not just for this contest. Keep it up. You've made us smile, and I think that's one of the most important things about music.



And, the video that gets $100 to a charity of their choice & other prizes from me is... 

(drum roll please):

The Gardiner Sisters!

I'm going to be honest with you guys, I tried so hard to not just judge this competition based on talent. Being a singer/songwriter myself-- I already knew that sub-consciously I would have a bias to other singer/songwriters... So picking this one as the top video was difficult because I didn't want ya'll thinking that. But I watched it over and over, and by the 5th or 6th time I watched this I knew it wasn't just because of the perfect harmonies and beautiful voices. Their piece truly captured what "Across the Sea" meant to them. Their interpretation was "Underwater", as in the main person in this song was drowning underwater, and the only one to save her is the man she loves-- who is their "Air". Simple concept, executed perfectly. I'm truly happy to have run into you sisters, and thank you for your music. I couldn't help but to feel emotional watching this for the first time, and I hope you all keep making beautiful music.


P.S. if you loved the emotion bursting out of this video-- check out WeTheGentlemen's entry to this contest as well, a perfect example of the power of music.                    Special Mention:

This choice is refreshing and has a great message! will be launching its 3rd version next week and this entry seemed so fitting!  Please expect a CD and autographed postcard from AJ himself!  Congratulations!



So thank you thank you thank you everyone! This was one of the hardest things to judge-- I literally think every one of you deserved the top "Prize". I was seriously having such a hard time, I wanted to just send 87 CD's to every single entry. But I had to keep my promises (who knows maybe next time I'll do it LOL). Thanks again, you all truly inspire me. I'll always cherish these videos. And I was actually thinking of hitting some of you guys up to do a compilation CD. We'll see what's up. =] Love you guys, and thanks again!!

-AJ Rafael