Mountain Soul Dolly Parton vocal competition at Bloomin’ BBQ festival

With the return this year of the Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival in east Tennessee after two years of cancellations, we also find a call for entries for the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition which honors the songwriting of local native daughter, Dolly Parton.

The annual competition asks singers to perform one of Dolly’s compositions on stage during the festival, divided into two age brackets. Twenty contestants will be chosen from entry submissions for the thirteen and up category, and ten from the twelve and under. During the actual contest on May 21, singers have the option of singing along to a pre-recorded track, accompanying themselves with an instrument, or bringing an accompanist with them.

Applications can be completed online, and must be submitted by April 15. There is a $5 entry fee for 12 and under, and $10 for 13 and up.

Prizes are awarded as follows:

Ages 13 and Up

  • First Prize $500 + Nashville Recording Session
  • Second Prize $300
  • Third Prize $200

Ages 12 and Under

  • First Prize $100 + 1 Season Pass to Dollywood
  • Second Prize $50 + 2 Day Passes to Dollywood
  • Third Prize $25 + 2 Day Passes to Dollywood

The Bloomin’ BBQ festival is a free event held outdoors at the courthouse in Sevierville, TN, May 20-21. Live music is presented in the courthouse parking lot, and the streets behind are closed off and packed with vendors of every sort. The Tennessee State Championship BBQ Cookoff is also held on site that weekend, and the smells and sounds are heavenly. When we last attended several years ago, it was a friendly, family-oriented audience that enjoyed the music, the food, and each other’s company.

Amanda Marr, Sevierville Chamber of Commerce Director of Marketing and Communications, says that local civic leaders are proud to host this singing contest which, as far as they can find, is the only one in the world that specifically honors the songwriting of Dolly Parton.

“The Mountain Soul Vocal Competition does a great job showcasing new talent while also proving that Dolly’s songwriting is incredibly versatile and can easily cross musical genres. Since Dolly Parton is Sevierville’s hometown girl, holding a competition that honors her songwriting ability was a natural fit for us. We are honored that Dollywood assists us with the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition each year.”

On the main stage will be performances from a mix of traditional and modern bluegrass acts. Scheduled are sets from Dan Tyminski, Appalachian Road Show, Sideline, ETSU Old Time Ramblers, Jacob Joliet Band, The Family Sowell, and Leftover Salmon. A second community stage will present artists playing country and Americana sounds.

Full details on the Bloomin’ BBQ Music & Food Festival can be found online.

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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.