Deadlines approach for song contests

There’s still time for songwriters to enter two major contests that honor bluegrass compositions.

January 5 is the entry deadline for the DC Bluegrass Union’s Hazel Dickens Song Contest. The contest, in its third year, is strictly for bluegrass (including bluegrass Gospel). The winner, as determined by a panel of judges, receives $500 and an invitation to perform the song at the DC Bluegrass festival in early March. Second place is $250 and third is $100.

Winners will be announced February 15.

More information about the contest and the festival can be found at

Songwriters have a bit more time to submit entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest. That deadline is February 1. There are four categories: Bluegrass, Country, Gospel and General. Three finalists in each category will be announced in early spring. They’ll play before a panel of judges at the festival, and the winners of that round will get to play before thousands of people on the Cabin Stage.

First place pays $600, second is $300 and third is $100. Each finalist also receives strings and other merchandise.

More information is available at

The entry fee for both contests is $30 per song.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.