Earlier this year, amateur and rising musicians from throughout the Upstate were invited to submit original songs based on the theme of “Embrace Your Voice” for a competition presented by SAFE Homes — Rape Crisis Coalition.

Six were selected as finalists for the 2nd annual 1BlueStringHubCity singer-songwriter contest and the overall winner will be determined during a concert starting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wild Wing Café in Spartanburg.

“This competition is meant to provide a platform for the incredible budding talent in our area by giving amateur and rising singer-songwriters the opportunity to showcase their skills,” SAFE Homes outreach director and contest organizer Jamie Hughes said in a statement.

The six finalists, who were selected by a panel of judges composed of local music professionals Marcel Anderson, Brooks Dixon, Michelle Lee and Reggie Rocc, will perform their respective songs during Thursday’s concert and the audience will choose the winner.

Greenville-based band Soulution will open the concert, and last year’s winner Mara Jennings will also perform.

The winning prize package includes cash, a new guitar, professional recording of the winning song, radio airplay and spotlight performance gigs at several Upstate venues and festivals.

1BlueString is an international campaign that asks guitarists to replace one of their six strings with a blue string to show support for the 1 in 6 men who have had unwanted sexual experiences, including abuse and assault. Proceeds from the singer-songwriter contest benefit Safe Homes — Rape Crisis Coalition, whose “Embrace Your Voice” theme is intended to promote happier and healthier lives for men in the community.

Here are the six finalists, listed in alphabetical order, describing their songs in their own words:

Jonathan Hannon (Greer) — “I’m Trying”

“My song is about the struggle to keep up with life’s demands. For me, this song is a declaration to continue pushing, fighting and trying even when life feels like a never-ending game of taking one step forward to take two steps back. I hope that everyone who hears this song finds it reviving, meaningful or insightful in some way.”

Taylor McCall (Easley) — “Waccamaw Drive”

“This song fell into place while I was actually driving down the road. The opening two lines just popped into my head: ‘always running on fumes and never on time, it’s half past 11 and I’m losing my mind.’ Luckily, I had the day off from work and came straight home to try to create a song around those set of lyrics. As I began to dig a little deeper, the song formed around the theme of a personal experience. It’s about a past relationship that I took for granted, and it’s me talking about a place where things fell apart yet, even without that person, still showing love and finding hope.”

Will Shehan (Gaffney) — “Good News”

“‘Good News’ is a song that I wrote about a rainy and dark day when it felt like I should probably be sad or cranky. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being happy and joyful despite some bad things that were going on at the time. I was inspired to write it on a day in Boston, where I went for a week last summer. The song really helps you embrace your voice by refusing to let bad things in your life stop you from being happy and seeing the good in things. I hope it can be an encouragement to anyone who is in circumstances they feel are holding them back from living their life.”

Tristan Smith (Spartanburg) — “What Love is All About”

“When I wrote my song, I didn’t write it about just my own voice but what it means to stand for someone else when they can’t stand for themselves. Through my song, I talk about what love means and how the perfect example of that is how Jesus took our pain as his own and how He will stand for you. I really hope my song can influence people to know that they are not alone and that, no matter what, you are loved.”

Jonathan Stephens (Boiling Springs) — “For Me”

“I really lucked out with this year’s theme, considering how accurately it applies to my life in 2018. I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 and, for the last 24 years, every time I’d try to pursue my music, I’d always end up setting it aside to play music for someone else. Five years ago, I gave up on music and shifted my passion and focus toward a career. In January of 2018, after five years of not scratching the itch to make music, I decided to stop wondering what if and finally take a shot at making music on my terms. I stepped down from my position at work and started writing and performing the songs that have been patiently waiting in my soul for so many years. I’m finally embracing my own voice, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Maddy Walsh (Converse College student from Charleston) — “Speak Up”

“My song ‘Speak Up’ urges the listeners to trust in themselves and stand up and raise their voice. Music is a way for me to share my story and express emotions that words cannot. My hope is that my listeners achieve a sense of empowerment.”