WoodyFest again sponsoring songwriter’s contest

| April 1, 2019 | Reply

Story and photos by Mary Jane Farmer, SceneInTown.com

The upcoming Woody Guthrie Festival, affectionately called WoodyFest, will run from July 10-14 this year in Okemah, Okla., which was Guthrie’s birthplace. One of the highlights every year is the songwriting contest, which draws songwriters from across the United States and beyond.

The good news is, there is plenty of time for songwriters to get their music submitted and heard by music professionals. The deadline is April 30. And, well, there is no bad news.

The Oklahoma Songwriters & Composers Association partners with The Woody Guthrie Coalition to sponsor this international, folk-oriented songwriting contest. Coalition Board Member Thomas Marshall coordinates the contest each year. Marshall said there are three prizes awarded with 1st place taking home $500 and will play a 20-minute set on the Pastures of Plenty (main) stage. Second place pays $200 plus a short set; and the 3rd place winner receives $100 prize and also will play a short set on the main stage. All three are given artist passes, which gives them free access to all venues hosting WoodyFest stages. There are also several Honorable Mention awards also given.

WoodyFest’s Pastures of Plenty crowd.

There is a fee of $20 for the first song submitted and $10 for each additional song. The 2018 contest winner, Claudia Gibson of Wimberley, Texas, said she only entered one song, “Dreamers,” and it was a song she wrote just for WoodyFest and the contest. Marshall said that entering multiple songs gives the songwriter multiple chances to win as each song is judged individually.

Songs should be submitted in MP3 format, or with a direct link to the songwriter’s Website where the song(s) is downloaded, as long as the judges can get there to hear them, Marshall said.

Gibson said about just having won, “It felt pretty surreal. I had sent out my entry a few months earlier and sort of forgot about it. I had been at Kerrville Folk Festival for three days camping, and had just arrived back home. I opened my email, and found out I won. I remember just pointing at it, trying to show my husband, so excited that I couldn’t really talk.” Gibson said she was primarily an unknown songwriter before winning.

Claudia Gibson

“WGSC has definitely been a nice honor to add to my resume, as it’s a respected national contest. It’s something I’m proud to put on my website and in my musical bio,” Gibson continued, saying it has opened many doors for her. “Since receiving that award, I was chosen for a prestigious songwriting festival in Texas (Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival), played at some nice private showcases at Folk Alliance International in Montreal, and am starting to get some better quality gigs at listening rooms, colleges and small theaters.”

Marshall said that the judges involved vary from year to year, and they choose from all the entries to determine finalists, who are then reheard. “It’s random, and depends on who is available (to listen to the songs.)”

The entry form is on the Webite WoodyFest.com. Marshall said to submit an MP3 of the song(s) submitted, or “they can link to a site where their song is recorded, as long as we can get to them from the portal on the Website.” Payment is to be made through PayPal at https://goo.gl/kWJSnC

And that deadline? It must all be in by April 30.

Another advantage, Gibson added, is experiencing the others also involved. “I met some wonderful musicians during my set at WoodyFest, and they were all so kind. Folksinger Ellis Paul, for

Ellis Paul, of whom Claudia Gibson spoke, at the 2018 WoodyFest.

example, came out from backstage and watched my set, and had nice things to say to me after I played. I ran into him recently at Folk Alliance International in Montreal, and thanked him for that kindness.” Gibson’s winning song is on her Website, ClaudiaGibson.com.

WoodyFest features six daytime venues/stages, and then moves farther out to the Pastures of Plenty stage on the road named for Okemah native and musician John Fullbright. The line-up will be available when it is complete, and much more information, on the festival’s Website, WoodyFest.com.



Category: *- Features, .2019, 2019

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In the music production business, including event production, booking, photography, reporting, and other such essentials, since 1980.

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