NewSong competition finds new artists, breeds collaboration
Winner of the 2009 NewsSong Contest will appear on Mountain Stage this Sunday in Athens, OH.
October 9, 2009 ·
Saturday at the Culture Center in Charleston, the twelve finalists for this year’s Mountain Stage NewSong contest will play a concert, competing to be named winner of the NewSong contest.
The Mountain Stage NewSong contest receives over a thousand entries from performing songwriters throughout
the year. How do they go about choosing
from all these songs and songwriters?
NewSong director Gar Ragland tries
to describe the hallmarks of a great song.
“I think first and foremost
on a very visceral level, it has to move you,” he said. “You have to be moved.
And, I think that the way in which a good song and its performance moves someone,
that’s a subjective experience, and it differs, in all likelihood, from you to
me, and to anyone else.”
Ragland says that a number of
factors combine for a song’s emotional impact: the melody, the lyrical content,
the subject matter and the words.
Rhythm, harmony and chord
progressions are also important, he says.
“And just as important, the
delivery of that—how sincere, or how well do you the listener, especially in a
live setting, connect with the person that is delivering it,” Ragland said.
“So I think all of those
factors – and those are by the way that we take into careful consideration when
judging the contest – go into what makes a great song, and just as important,
what makes a good performer of that song.”
Beyond the competition and
the prize, the contest builds community and leads to new musical relationships.
Ragland says a number of the artists who entered the competition as competitors
are now collaborators. They’re now touring across the country together,
recording on each other’s albums and co-writing music together.
“So we really work to produce
the Mountain Stage NewSong contest as an event that is far from being a
cutthroat competition, and more of a way of celebrating the achievements of
these hardworking artists and bringing them together to help build a community
among them,” Ragland said.
The Mountain Stage NewSong Contest
finals concert takes place Saturday at 7:30 pm
at the Culture Center Theater. The
winner will perform on Sunday’s Mountain Stage show in Athens,