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NewSong Music announces finalists for 8th annual LEAF Festival singer-songwriter competition & showcase

April 16th, 2022

NewSong Music announces the eight finalists who will perform at this year’s LEAF Festival singer-songwriter competition and showcase.

The event is a collaborative effort between NewSong Music and LEAF Community Arts. It aims to identify and recognize exceptional performers and songwriters from across the country. The finalists are invited to network and compete at the Spring LEAF Retreat, on Saturday, May 14.

This year’s finalists for the LEAF competition are: Grace Morrison, a country-pop artist based in Massachusetts; American Idol alum Stephen Sylvester, who calls the Gulf Coast home; Louisiana native Rachard Dennis, a poet-teacher-rapper; indie-folk artist Kristian Phillip Valentino, from North Carolina; Tennessee-based indie-rocker Kelly Hoppenjans; Sadie Gustafson-Zook, also based in Tennessee, a versatile singer and intricate guitarist; roots musician Philip Bowen from West Virginia; and Justin Poindexter + Sasha Papernik from New York who make up the award-winning Americana duo Our Band.



The winner of the LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition, selected from a panel of music industry judges, will earn a spot as one of only eight finalists at the annual International NewSong Competition, held in Asheville in the fall. The winner will also return to the Fall LEAF Festival, held October 20-23, 2022, as a featured, paid performer.

The LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition is always a memorable experience where songs are shared, friendships are forged, and great music finds a welcome and supportive audience. It’s worth noting that the event is not intended to be a cut-throat music competition. Instead, NewSong is committed to building and supporting a community and network of outstanding artists.

About NewSong Music

Now in its 21st year, NewSong Music is an independent artist development organization and independent record label. Its mission is to identify and celebrate truly exceptional artists, and to build and support a community of performers and songwriters across all genres of music.

About LEAF Community Arts

LEAF Community Arts is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization with a mission to connect cultures and create community through music and arts. LEAF is comprised of two key cultural arts education programs, LEAF Schools & Streets and LEAF International, as well as two signature events, LEAF Festival and LEAF Downtown.  Attendance at LEAF Festival provides a family-friendly weekend experience infused with music and arts while supporting the long-term vision of the organization. Since 1995, LEAF has served over 200,000+ youth with programs in over 15 community locations and in 10 countries worldwide. Learn more at