MerleFest, presented by Window World, will begin accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC) beginning October 1. CASC is a songwriting contests in roots and Americana music, having a reputation for launching careers and discovering important new talent. Winners in four categories – bluegrass, general, gospel, and country – will be chosen at MerleFest, which will take place April 26 - 29, 2018. MerleFest is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans that takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C.
Now in its 26th year, CASC is an extraordinary opportunity for songwriters to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of music industry professionals, under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale. Aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest using the online entry form (merlefest.org/ChrisAustinSongwritingContest) or by mailing entries to MerleFest/CASC, PO Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. The deadline to enter is Feb. 1, 2018.
All entries received during October and November will receive an early entry discount price of $25 per entry. Submissions received in December and January will require a $30 fee per entry. All lyrics must be written in English and no instrumentals will be accepted. To read more about the contest rules and how to enter, visit merlefest.org/chris-austin-songwriting-contest/enter-the-contest.
The first round of the CASC competition takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, and is narrowed down to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general and gospel/inspirational. Finalists are then invited to the final round of the competition, which takes place Friday, April 27, during MerleFest. First place winners will receive $600 cash from MerleFest and a 20-35-minute performance set on MerleFest’s Cabin Stage on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
“We are extremely proud of the career successes achieved by many CASC alumni. Among these are Gillian Welch (1993), David Via (1997, 2001), Johnny Williams (1998, 1999), Tift Merritt (2000), Becky Buller (2001), Michael Reno Harrell (2003), Adrienne Young (2003), Martha Scanlan (2003), Sam Quinn (2006) and Jeanette Williams (2007),” said Lee K. Cornett, coordinator of MerleFest’s CASC. “More recent alumni include Lara Lynn (2011), Gary Alan Ferguson (2014), Melody Walker (2013) of Front Country and Joseph Terrell (2014) of Mipso. I encourage all songwriters to submit their compositions to the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest!”
MerleFest 2017 bluegrass winners included Linda Jean Stokley (1st Place), Mike Bentley (2nd Place) and Matthew Hurd (3rd Place). MerleFest 2017 gospel winners were Paul Kelly, Buddy Guido and Willie Schoellkopf (1st Place), Ian Meadows (2nd Place) and Kevin Hale (3rd Place). MerleFest 2017 country winners were Mary Bragg and Liz Poston (1st Place), Carly Burruss (2nd Place), and Erin James (3rd Place). MerleFest 2017 general category winners were Catherine Backus (1st Place), Alexa Rose (2nd Place) and Shay Martin Lovette, and Locke Griffith (3rd Place).
Net proceeds from the contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception, the scholarship has awarded over $41,000 to deserving students. To learn more details about the contest, visit MerleFest.org/CASC.