Rising to the top of the pack of over 300 entries, soul singer-songwriter Khalil Amaru was named the grand prize winner of WXPN’s 24 Hour Song Challenge today.

Amaru’s “Dear June” is a beautiful story-song about a summer fling, where the season is cleverly personified into the character “June.” When he was called up and informed he was the winner by midday host Mike Vasilikos, Amaru said the song did not come easy.

“This means so much to me because ‘Dear June’ came literally through tooth and nail,” he said. “I was not trying to submit, I was like ‘Maybe they’ll do it next year.’ I was so tired! But something inside me was like you gotta do this, you started releasing music this year, this is your time. This feels so good.”

2024 WXPN Songwriter Challenge - Winner Reveal

Judges chose the finalists, and the winner, through a rigorous review process. The initial 300+ entries were divided up and ranked by judges Heather Hurlock (WXPN digital content manager), John Vettese (WXPN Local host, news editor), Mike Vasilikos (WXPN midday host, operations manager) and Bruce Warren (WXPN program director). The top 20 ranked songs from their review got a second round of listening from all those judges, plus Philly artist Donn T, and XPN member Michelle Squiccimara. That round of voting resulted in the four finalists — get to know them here — as well as the grand prize winner.

As the grand prize winner, Amaru receives a $1000 honorarium, ten hours of studio time at MilkBoy Recording Studio, a spot to perform the winning song live at the XPoNential Music Festival, and a one-year WXPN Program Partner Membership.

You can watch his entry, “Dear June,” below. From all of us here at WXPN, big congrats to Khalil, as well as all the finalists and participants of the first-ever WXPN 24-Hour Song Challenge!

WXPN Song Challenge - Khalil Amaru “Dear June”