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About The 20th Annual NewSong Music Competition


Now in its twentieth year, NewSong Music is an independent artist development organization and independent record label with this two-fold mission:



  • To build a supportive community of performers and songwriters across all genres of music and levels of skill.


  • To identify the truly exceptional artists within this community and to work closely with them to develop their careers and introduce their music to a broader, international audience.





Since 2001, NewSong Music has achieved its mission by producing the following programs and events

NS-Contest NEW

Now in its 20th year, the NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition is one of North America’s premier showcases of emerging performers and songwriters across an array of genres. The final deadline to enter this  NewSong Contest is October 10, 2021.



Our independent and award winning record label, established to work hand in hand with truly exceptional talent that we identify within our community of artists. Our releases from Rachael Kilgour, Max Hatt/Edda Glass, the Cardinal Sons, Diana Jones, Chris Velan, Amber Rubarth, Arthur Alligood and others have all received critical acclaim.

NS-Presents 800w

Live music concerts, series and events, curated by NewSong Music and held across the country that showcase talented NewSong artists and alumni, including former contest finalists and winners, and label artists. Recent series include this year’s recent ‘Summer on the Plaza’ series presented with Arts Brookfield ), the NewSong Emerging Artist Series @ Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in the David Rubenstein Atrium (NYC) and the upcoming ‘Verse–>Refrain: An Exploration of Song’ series at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.




About Gar Ragland, NewSong Music President & Co-founder



Gar Ragland is a producer, musician, and president and co-founder of the NewSong Music Group. A native North Carolinian (Winston-Salem), Ragland began his music career while an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, sharing bills with acts that include the Dave Matthews Band, Gov’t Mule and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. After working several years in Washington, DC as a researcher for the environmental economic policy think tank Resources for the Future, Ragland relocated to Boston to study composition and improvisation at the New England Conservatory with MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award winning pianist, composer and educator Ran Blake. It was there in 2001 that he started producing his fellow classmates’ demos and records, and co-founded NewSong Music.



In 2005 Ragland moved to New York City, working out of his studio in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. In 2012, he relocated with his wife and three children to Asheville, NC to take up residence at Echo Mountain Recording Studios; and in 2020 founded Citizen Vinyl, presenting sponsor of NewSong Music.



Ragland is a voting member of the Recording Academy (Grammys), and currently serves as the board chair of the Asheville Area Arts Council.