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MerleFest 2009 songwriting contest opens

Thursday, January 15, 2009 – MerleFest 2009's songwriting competition, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, is now accepting submissions.

Now in its 17th year, the contest is a chance for writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of this year's volunteer contest chairperson, Jim Lauderdale.

The contest recognizes winners in four categories - country, bluegrass, gospel and general. First place winners in each category receive: a performance on the Cabin Stage at MerleFest 2009 (April 23-26), an acoustic guitar, a check for $300, 2 boxes of D'Addario strings and a 1-year subscription to Acoustic Guitar magazine. Second and third place winners in each category receive performance slots on the Friday night Songwriters Coffeehouse, as well as cash prizes, D'Addario strings and Acoustic Guitar subscriptions.

This year's deadline for submissions is Feb. 18. To be eligible to enter, a songwriter must not derive more than 50 percent of his or her total income from songwriting or music publishing.

Songs may be submitted via mail or online via Sonicbids at www.sonicbids.com. Details about entry fees and what must accompany each entry are available at www.merlefest.org. Judging is based on a song's originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential.

Twelve finalists, three from each category, will be announced during the first week of April. The finalists will compete on the Austin Stage at MerleFest 2009.

Previous winners include Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, Michael Reno Harrell, Adrienne Young, Martha Scanlan and David Via.

For additional information, call the contest hotline at 1-800-799-3838 or Laurie Hayes at 336-838-6158 or email laurie.hayes@wilkescc.edu.

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