September 19, 2017
Entries for Chris Austin Songwriting Contest accepted beginning October 1
WILKESBORO, N.C. (September 19, 2017) – MerleFest, presented by Window World, will begin accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC) beginning October 1. CASC is one of the most acclaimed 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 (www.merlefest.org/ChrisAustinSongwritingContest/) or by mailing entries to MerleFest/CASC, PO Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. The deadline to enter is February 1, 2018.
All entries received during October and November will receive an early entry discountprice 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 http://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 cashfrom 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 www.MerleFest.org/CASC.
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, including old-time, country, bluegrass, folk and gospel and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic 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. MerleFest has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, 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. 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 near San Diego. Pete Fisher, then of Warner Songs and former general manager of The Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, previous “Pickin’ for Merle” video associate producer, initiated the songwriting contest to honor Austin’s memory.
About Window World
Window World, headquartered in North Wilkesboro, N.C., is America’s largest replacement window and exterior remodeling company, with more than 200 locally owned offices nationwide. Founded in 1995, the company sells and installs windows, siding, doors and other exterior products, with a total of over 14 million windows sold to date. Window World is an ENERGY STAR partner, and its window products have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal for 10 consecutive years. Additionally, through its charitable foundation Window World Cares, the Window World family provides funding for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which honored the foundation with its Organizational Support Award in 2017. Since its inception in 2008, Window World Cares has raised over $7 million for St. Jude. Window World Inc. also supports the Veterans Airlift Command, a non-profit organization that facilitates free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families. For more information, visit www.WindowWorld.com or call 1-800 NEXT WINDOW. For home improvement and energy efficiency tips, décor ideas and more, follow Window World on Facebook and Twitter.