MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest entries open today

Like so many things in our lives these days, the calendar for MerleFest is a bit twisted this year. After canceling the 2020 festival, organizers have moved this year’s to the late summer with an eye towards remaining uncertainty about COVID-19 restrictions in the spring, so the rhythms of the big fundraising event in North Carolina are a bit off kilter.

The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, held each year during MerleFest, has announced that submissions for the 2021 competition are open today, and that they will accept entries through June 15, 2021. CASC has earned the reputation as the jewel in the crown of song contests in the realm of bluegrass and acoustic music. Jim Lauderdale will serve as the Contest Chairperson, with entries again broken into four categories: bluegrass, general, Gospel, and country.

Andrea Gimlin, coordinator of CASC, shared some of the many talented writers that the contest has helped bring too prominence.

“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). More recent alumni include Lara Lynn (2011) and Gary Alan Ferguson (2014). Other recent discoveries from the contest are Melody Walker of Front Country and Joseph Terrell of Mipso. I encourage all songwriters to put the final touches on your masterpiece and submit it to the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest!”

Multiple entries are permitted, with a $30 fee for each submission. The winner in each category will receive a $1,000 cash prize, and a performance slot on the MerleFest stage.

Entries are judged by a panel of professional songwriters over the summer, and three finalists in each category will be selected prior to the festival, set to run September 16-19 in North Wilkesboro, NC. The finalists will be invited to perform their songs before the judges live on Friday, September 17, during MerleFest, with winners announced shortly thereafter.

Full contest details and an online application form can be found at the CASC web site.

Good luck everyone!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.