In celebration of its 20th Anniversary, NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition will welcome eight finalists to Asheville, NC for an evening of showcasing and connection on December 4, 2021. The internationally recognized event, previously held at the prestigious Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, has since found a new home in the mountains of Western North Carolina. This year, NewSong is proud to partner with one of Asheville’s newest and most multi-faceted event spaces, Citizen Vinyl, to present the finale showcase.
Established by NewSong Music director and co-founder Gar Ragland, the downtown landmark broke ground last year as Asheville’s first vinyl manufacturing facility, and boasts a variety of amenities including a full scale recording studio, a vinyl-themed craft cocktail and coffee lounge, a record and art store, and more. The timely collaboration will support both projects’ shared mission of amplifying independent artists through unique performance and networking opportunities.
“This year’s NewSong performance showcase and competition finals at Citizen Vinyl is an especially important one on many levels,” says Ragland. “It’s not only a great celebration of the program’s 20th anniversary, it also marks the return after last year’s COVID cancellation….the first time ever in NewSong’s twenty year history that we were unable to produce the event. And having our presenting sponsor Citizen Vinyl — another project very near and dear to my heart — host it for the first time ever makes it all the more special.”
Eight finalists, selected from advance online submissions from across North America and beyond, will bring their musical chops to Asheville to perform, compete, and connect with one another. A panel of music industry judges will select one grand prize winner who will receive a fully-funded six-song EP, recorded and mixed at Citizen Studios, plus 500 vinyl records pressed at Citizen Vinyl, and a featured, paid performance at Arts Brookfield’s Summer Concert Series in New York City in the summer of 2022. Two Award Round Runners-Up will also be selected to receive a vinyl package of 300 x 12” records pressed at Citizen Vinyl.
Jobi Riccio, the most recent NewSong grand prize winner from 2019, will return to the NewSong stage and perform as the evening’s special guest.
This year, a portion of ticket proceeds will support NewSong’s beneficiary arts and community partner, SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s, a newly-opened music rehearsal facility and soon-to-be soul food kitchen which has taken residence in the former Green Book-era Rabbit’s Motel and Cafe. Launched in December of 2020, the ever-evolving project works to preserve the rich history of the Southside Black community and early African-American Asheville by offering affordable studio rentals and shared resources for artists of all mediums.
Ragland elaborates, “Just as Citizen Vinyl has helped to renew an important Asheville cultural and historic landmark, our friends at Soundspace are on a similar if not more important mission — to restore and celebrate an essential piece of Asheville’s cultural heritage and provisioning it as a ongoing, much needed resource to our music community.”
As its 20th anniversary draws near, NewSong couldn’t be more proud to be celebrating the finale of its performance and songwriting competition alongside these two uniquely-Asheville entities. With the potency of their combined efforts, and a shared passion for independent arts, NewSong and its partners will continue to provide opportunities and resources for underrepresented artists in North America and beyond.