Sept. 17, 2014. MerleFest, presented by Lowe’s, is proud once again to host the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Beginning Oct. 1, aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest using the online entry form (www.merlefest.org/ChrisAustinSongwritingContest/) or by mailing entries to: MerleFest/CASC, PO Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. Early birds take note: during the month of October and November, all entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC) will receive an early entry discountprice of $25 per entry. Submissions received in December and January will require a $30 fee per entry.
The deadline to enter the CASC will be Feb. 1, 2015.
Beginning this year, applicants should make note that 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 http://www.merlefest.org/cascrulesandentry/.
Now in its 23rd year, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is an extraordinary opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of this year’s volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. MerleFest takes place from April 23-26, 2015.
The first round of the CASC competition takes place in Nashville, Tenn., 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 April 24 during MerleFest on the campus of Wilkes Community College.
Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $38,000 to 79 deserving students.
To learn more details about the contest, visit www.merlefest.org/ChrisAustinSongwritingContest.
MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.
About Chris Austin:
Chris Austin, from Boone, North Carolina, worked as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs for three years, singing and playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. During that time he was discovered by executives at Warner Bros. Nashville, who offered him a recording contract. While releasing singles including “Blues Stay Away From Me,” “I Know There’s a Heart in There Somewhere” and “Out of Step,” Austin also developed his songwriting skills, as evidenced in “Same Ol’ Love,” recorded by Skaggs in 1991. On March 16, 1991, Austin’s life was cut tragically short when the private plane carrying him and six other members of Reba McEntire’s band, as well as her tour manager, crashed in the mountains near San Diego. Pete Fisher, then of Warnersongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then MerleFest consultant and Pickin’ for Merle video associate producer, initiated the songwriting contest to honor Austin’s memory.