Forever Unknown Takes Home 2019 Instaband Grand Prize


Dublin, Ohio (February 28, 2019) — Over 200 attendees gathered at Skully’s Music Diner last Friday to hear Ohio’s top 10 high school bands and artists compete for the 2019 Instaband grand championship. Each year students enrolled at GROOVE U Music Career Program host Instaband, an all-Ohio high school battle of the bands which doubles as a hands-on, portfolio-building class project. The winner of the 7th annual Instaband competition is Forever Unknown, a five-piece alternative rock band made up of students from Pickerington North, Pickerington Central and Whetstone High Schools. The five-piece first met through taking lessons at The Rock Factory in Pickerington, where they started writing together as a band. 

“It’s a collaborative process. It usually starts with one of us messing around on the guitar and coming up with a basic riff or song and sharing it with the other band members” says drummer, Evan Pond. After Micah [lead singer] listens to it, she comes up with lyrics. When the band gets together, we listen to the two together and then begin to layer in the other parts.”

Forever Unknown will receive a recording contract on GROOVE U’s student run record label, Elementary Records complete with a studio EP, and music video. The band will also secure a spot on the Big Local Stage at the Columbus Arts Festival later this June.

Instaband is a month-long competition which takes place in two (2) semifinal rounds at GROOVE U’s creative campus campus, culminating in a live finals round. During the semifinal rounds, 20 bands performed live in GROOVE U’s world-class studios.  Audio and video were recorded and judged remotely by local industry pros. The finals at Skully’s Music Diner were judged by Singer-songwriters, Kaitlyn Schmit, Zach Whitney, and Christian Daraban who serves as the Marketing Director at Prime Social Group. Winners were determined by 60% industry expert judges vote and 40% audience voting.

Second place at the Instaband finals went to punk rock group Ink, hailing from the Hilliard Innovative Learning Center. Third place was awarded to singer-songwriter Evan Hoffman from Milan, Ohio. Hoffman will also be attending GROOVE U as a full-time student later this fall. 2nd and 3rd place winners took home prize packages made up of swag from Audio Technica, Music Go Round and GROOVE U.

In addition to the top 3 prize winners, any junior or senior who placed among the top 10 finalists receives a $1,000 Emerging Talent Grant towards tuition at GROOVE U. While the judges tallied up votes and counted audience ballots, the 2018 Instaband winner, Max Beal serenaded the audience.

“GROOVE U seeks to support local teens as they create original music, and Instaband provides a platform for them to perform on a much larger scale,” said Dwight Heckelman, Director of GROOVE U’s revolutionary music industry career program. “Our students produce Instaband from start to finish, providing real-world, hands-on experiences.

Proceeds from the event benefit Columbus’ local NPR station, WCBE 90.5 FM and GROOVE U scholarships.  Over the past 7 years, GROOVE U has raised over $15,000 for local non-profits through the Instaband competition.


GROOVE U is a revolutionary music industry career program located in Dublin, Ohio. The two-year program uses a career-centered approach to learning developed by active industry professionals, and is guided by the philosophy that the music industry is creatively engaged, apprenticeship-based and relationship-driven. Classes are small and personalized and offer both broad, foundational knowledge and specialized areas of music study in: production, live, business, video and interactive. With a 4:1 lab:class ratio, students have plenty of hands-on opportunities to hone in their skills. Students can directly plug-in to both the local and global music communities through trips to music conferences, on-campus speakers and two guided internships. 

Want to connect with us? Please contact GROOVE U if you have internship opportunities, would like to sponsor a student or want to be considered as a guest speaker. To learn more, schedule a campus tour and one-on-one meeting today.