MaisCéu — the solo project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith — won this year’s LEAF Songwriter Competition.
Griffith hails from the mountains of Minas Gerais, Brazil. His compositions are a fusion of American and Brazilian musical traditions, reflecting his upbringing steeped in both cultures. At the LEAF Songwriter Competition, held Saturday, May 13, at LEAF Retreat, Griffith mesmerized the audience with intricate guitar melodies, upbeat auxiliary percussion, and lyrics sung in Portuguese.
“The experience of bonding with the other talented finalists, both on and off the stage, was nothing short of magical,” Griffith says. “As I looked around the room, filled with incredible talent, I was overjoyed and surprised when my name was announced as the winner of the 2023 NewSong Songwriter’s Competition. It feels surreal to witness how the songs I composed in a quiet corner of my room, with such personal meaning to me, are now resonating with new audiences.”
The singer-songwriter, who is currently based in Lenoir, N.C., earned a spot as one of only eight finalists at the annual, international NewSong Competition, to be held in Asheville this fall. MaisCéu will also return to the Fall LEAF Festival, held October 19-22, 2023, as a featured, paid performer.
“LEAF has always held a special place in my heart, and it has been a dream of mine to not only participate in the NewSong Songwriter’s Competition but also to be a featured performer at LEAF,” Griffith says. “I am looking forward to continuing this journey by putting together a special performance for the upcoming LEAF in the fall.”
Award-round runners up:
Judges for the event, culled from Asheville, N.C.’s music industry professionals, included arts and culture journalist Tiana Kennel, talent booker China Langford, and NewSong Music director and co-founder Gar Ragland.
“Once again this year’s finalists showcased a wonderful array of original material to an attentive and appreciative LEAF audience,” said Ragland. “ I’m continually impressed and humbled by the level and diversity of talent that this program attracts. It’s an honor to be able to showcase this caliber of talent each year with LEAF.”
Genres ran the gamut from folk and Americana to indie-pop. Seven finalists and their accompanists traveled from as far as Oregon’s Hood River Gorge to share their songs.
The LEAF Singer-Songwriter Competition is a collaborative effort between NewSong Music and LEAF Global Arts. It aims to identify and recognize exceptional performers and songwriters from across the country.