What images and sounds come to mind when you think about folk music? Maybe not bluegrass, but bluegrass, country, Gospel, Irish fiddle tunes, Appalachian ballads, and more fall under the category. It is in this spirit of broadly conceptualizing and tying folk music thoughtfully (but not restrictively) to a community of musical practice the North Carolina Folk Festival in Greensboro has created the Not Your Average Folk Contest as an opportunity for North Carolina-based musicians (who meet contest eligibility requirements) to share their music with the North Carolina Folk Festival community.
Applications from a diverse array of musical and community traditions are invited to join the friendly competition, win prizes that include the opportunity to perform live at the 2021 North Carolina Folk Festival in Greensboro in September.
First Place – a performance at the 2021 North Carolina Folk Festival on a main stage, 8 hours recording time at Black Rabbit Audio (Greensboro, NC) and a one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
Second Place and Third Place – a performance at the 2021 North Carolina Folk Festival, in a setting such as a “music spot” or “VIP lounge,” but not on a main stage, and a one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
Honorable Mention – one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
You may apply as either a soloist or group. All entries will be judged from the same pool of applicants.
For Soloists: Must be a North Carolina resident (owning or renting residential real property in North Carolina at time of application submission, and through the end of September 2021), and must be 18 years of age or older. You must be able to provide proof of North Carolina residency.
For Groups (more than one performer): All individuals in the group must be 18 years of age or older. At least 50% of the group’s members must have their primary residence in North Carolina. The group’s primary place of business must be located in North Carolina.
Ineligible: Soloists or groups that are represented by an agent booking firm or talent agency, and/or have an outstanding contractual relationship with a major record label or publisher are NOT eligible to apply.
Multiple Applications: Applicants may submit one application as a soloist, but may appear in more than one application as a member of a group. However, applicants may appear in the lineup for no more than one of the finalists by the judges.
Application & Evaluation Process:
Panel Review: Applications to the Not Your Average Folk Contest will be reviewed by a panel of judges chosen by the North Carolina Folk Festival. Judges will score entries based on the evaluation criteria below. The top four scoring applications that meet all eligibility requirements will be declared the four Finalists of the contest, and will advance to the Public Voting round. All decisions by the judges are final.
Evaluation Criteria for Panel Review (scoring):
Appeal of Performance – 25% Quality entries will demonstrate a comfortable, authoritative stage presence and demonstrate experience performing for a large audience as well as suitability for performance at the North Carolina Folk Festival.
Incorporation of Folk/Traditional Elements – 25% Quality entries will demonstrate the use, interpretation, or fusion of folk/traditional practices, instruments, musical material (such as an established folk melody), or other related elements.
Musicianship – 25% Quality entries will demonstrate the applicant’s skill in playing a musical instrument or singing. Original works are encouraged, but compositional skill is not an evaluation criteria.
Uniqueness of Work Performed – 25% Quality entries will demonstrate overall uniqueness and creativity in the submitted performance video.
In early July 2021, four finalists will be announced and public voting through a portal on the NC Folk Festival website will commence. The finalists selected through Panel Adjudication must provide access to the original video file.
Video performances submitted with the application of each finalist will be posted to the North Carolina Folk Festival YouTube channel, website, and social media platforms in order to conduct the public voting process. The festival reserves the right to use applicant video submissions, and can modify them as needed.
All finalists will be interviewed by video. The interview and performance videos will be uploaded to the YouTube channel, promoted on the NC Folk Festival website and social media platforms to encourage participation in the Public Voting process.
Finalists are encouraged to promote themselves to their audience via their own social media platforms. The NC Folk Festival will provide each finalist a social media guide with relevant hashtags, account handles, and other details to promote the Public Voting phase of the contest.
Applications may be submitted through June 13 at 11:50 p.m. (EDT). The final voting period will run from July 6-28. Winners will be announced on August 12.
To apply, visit the NC Folk Festival web site online.