The 2023 Not Your Average Folk Contest is underway. North Carolina residents can apply online for a chance to win a main-stage performance during the 2023 North Carolina Folk Festival, and studio recording time with Black Rabbit Audio, both located in Greensboro.
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 that the North Carolina Folk Festival 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 North Carolina Folk Festival in September.
Applicants should prepare and complete the following before beginning this application form: Each member associated with the performer/group is to read and understand the Contest Rules; have contact information for all members associated with the performer/group; have a short bio (1000 character max) for the performer/group; have a prepared answer (1000 character max) to the question, “How does community, tradition, and identity play a role in the music you create?”; have completed video application component and have uploaded file to YouTube or a similar video sharing service.
Eligibility: 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 at time of application submission, and for the duration of the 2023 season and must be 18 years of age or older. Proof of residence is required.
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 NC 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.
Contest Prize Overview
First Prize: a performance at the 2023 Season on Saturday, September 9 on a main stage, 16 hours of studio recording time (studio A) with Black Rabbit Audio in Greensboro, 16 hours of video content during studio recording time, and a one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
Second Prize and Third Place: a performance at the 2023 Season secondary stage, the VIP Lounge, or a comparable performance opportunity, 8 hours of studio recording time (studio B) with Black Rabbit Audio in Greensboro, and a one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
Fourth Prize: $500 E-Gift Card to Sweetwater.com and a one-time Artist Spotlight in a North Carolina Folk Festival monthly newsletter.
Timeline: Applications Close: Monday, June 12, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EDT
Four Finalists Announced: Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Online Voting Opens: Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Online Voting Closes: Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EDT
The finalist receiving the most votes during public voting will be announced as the winner in early August 2023.
To apply, visit the Not Your Average Folk Contest web page.