Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Mel Bryant, winner of the 2018 NewSong Songwriting & Performance Competition, is shown here (at right) with accompanist Aaron Hicks, performing at Isis Music Hall during last year’s event. Bryant will return as a guest performer at this year’s competition at Isis Music Hall on Saturday Nov. 23./ photo by Josh Rhinehart

Eight talented musicians from across the U.S. and beyond, are set to compete and connect this week in the NewSong Music Performance & Songwriting Competition, which will culminate in a live show Saturday, Nov. 23, at Isis Music Hall. Get tickets here.

The finalists are: Danielle Ponder of Rochester, N.Y.; Grant Maloy Smith of Kingston, Rhode Island; Jae Jin of Wolftown, Va.; Jobi Riccio of Brookline, Mass.; Kelly Hoppenjans of Nashville, Tenn.; Kyshona of Madison, Tenn.; Nathaniel Bellows of New York, N.Y.; and Parker Ainsworth of Los Angeles.

This is the second year the event will be held in Asheville. After a sold-out event last year, NewSong founder Gar Ragland  says he’s decided to continue to host the competition finals in Asheville indefinitely. For most of its 18 years, the event has been held in the prestigious Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.

“The support we received from the community here for last year’s finals – as evidenced by the sellout event and its deeply appreciative and engaging audience – affirmed for us that our hometown has indeed become one of the country’s best music towns,” Ragland said in a written news release.

A panel of national music industry judges will select the overall winner of the competition. Alli Marshall, arts editor for the Mountain Xpress, will emcee the event. Mel Bryant, the winner of the 2018 NewSong Competition, will perform during the judges’ deliberations.

This year’s grand prize winner will receive a fully funded six-song EP, recorded and mixed at Asheville own Echo Mountain Recording Studios. It will be released on the NewSong Recordings label. The grand prize winner will also receive a performance showcase at the esteemed 2019 Sundance ASCAP Music Café at the Sundance Film Festival  in Park City, Utah, as well as a featured performance in the 2020 Arts Brookfield ‘Summer Plaza’ series in New York City.

All finalists will be strongly considered for future NewSong Presents paid performances across the U.S.

NewSong Music is an independent music organization that aims to build a supportive community of performers and songwriters across various genres of music and skill levels, while identifying truly exceptional artists and introducing their music to a broader international audience.

Here’s a Spotify playlist that features the NewSong finalists:

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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