Last Updated on February 20, 2021 by BVN

Leo Cabral | Managing Editor

Two students of Music Changing Lives, a local music and arts youth program, won third place in a virtual music festival that included 3,200 participants worldwide.

Zaiah Shepherd, 11, and Pedrito Fregoso, 8, both tied for third place amongst participants from around the world and split a cash prize of $175.

The virtual World Peace Music Festival, hosted by the Rotary International District 5300, was started because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was held from Dec. 12-13.

“We thought we’d probably get maybe ten — twenty kids,” said Bruny. “ It was shocking, over twelve countries submitted entries and we had enough content for about a ten-hour show.”

Josiah Bruny, founder of Music Changing Lives, was surprised by the number of participants who signed up.

This was Music Changing Lives’ first time participating in the festival, and there was enough content to become a two-day event.

The turnout inspired Music Changing Lives to hold another showcase in January called “Midwest Vs.  West Coast.” It will be an all girls competition in music, art and poetry.

“A ‘Thank you,’ to Rotary International 5300 Club for starting this and giving us a platform to take what we’re doing across the globe,” Bruny closed.

For more information on Music Changing Lives, visit

For more information on Rotary International 5300 District, visit