FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Western folk/soul artist Parker Ainsworth, from Los Angeles, has been named the winner of the sixth annual LEAF Festival Singer-Songwriter Competition, presented by NewSong Music. Ainsworth, along with five other finalist singer-songwriters, was selected from more than 400 entries to this year’s contest. The finalists performed at LEAF Saturday, May 11, in front of a full house at the Barn venue. This year’s judges were Alli Marshall, arts editor at Mountain Xpress; Jeff Santiago, a local musician and operations manager at The Orange Peel; and Melissa Meyers, founder of Red Rover Booking, an Asheville-based talent agency.
Other finalists were Cat Terrones from San Pedro, CA; Demos Papadimas from Warren, OH; Krista Shows from Candler, NC; Kim Ware from Atlanta, GA; and Syd Caldera from Brooklyn, NY. Ainsworth, Ware and Caldera were the three songwriters selected to move on to the second and final round. Finalists were judged equally on their performance and songwriting ability.
“Playing the Barn was such a magical experience,” says Ainsworth. “An open space full of music-loving folk, braving the elements to hear songs in their rawness. The event felt like it expanded me with the presence of genuine care … it pretty much blasted my heart wide open.”
He adds, “Talking with my fellow contestants reminded me that though this musical life can feel quite lonely at times, ultimately we’re never really alone. In fact, we’re unavoidably all in this together.”
Ainsworth will release his new EP, Far Away, this summer.
“It’s always difficult to select a winner, considering the impressive pool of talent,” says Alli Marshall, who returned as a judge for the fourth time. “This year’s showcase included stunning, Appalachian-flavored balladry, sultry swing, and rootsy folk offerings. All six performers were engaging; each is likely to become a recognizable name in the near future.”
Marshall adds that Ainsworth made a smart move in enlisting Asheville-based musician Zack Kardon as his accompanist. Though the two had not meet previous to the LEAF contest, Kardon provided tasteful electric guitar textures to Ainsworth’s rhythmic and storied song craft. “Parker also made great song choices, sharing his Texas roots, gritty soundscapes, and a non-cliched take on the need for gun control,” says Marshall. “Plus, he invited the enthusiastic audience to share in a sing-along.”
As the winner of the LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition, Ainsworth will receive a paid, featured performance at the fall 2019 LEAF Festival (October 17-20, in Black Mountain, NC), including lodging and accommodations. Other Asheville-area dates are in the works.
Ainsworth also advances as a finalist in the 18th annual, international NewSong Showcase and Competition, held later this year. The grand-prize winner of that contest will be awarded the opportunity to make a six-song EP, recorded and mixed at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville and released on the NewSong Recordings label; and a performance showcase at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s coveted ASCAP Music Café. The 2019 NewSong Music Contest is now accepting entries.