A month ago 10 finalists were selected from hundreds of entries received for the 2018 Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest. Saturday, May 19th the finalists competed on the United Healthcare Singer Songwriter Stage inside the Eisemann Center during the 26th Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival in Richardson. The judges awarded Eric Bettencourt (Texas), Kristen Grainger (Oregon), and Brian Pounds (Texas) as the top three finalists and the audience voted that Kyle Donovan (Colorado) should receive the Michael Terry People’s Choice Award. All four musicians received $500 in cash prize and invited to share the stage again in a Songwriting Contest Swap on Sunday, May 20, 2018.
Describing his music style as “guitar-driven folk-pop with teeth,” it’s no mystery why we’d want to sink in deeper to this songwriter’s curious psyche. We sat down with Wes Collins, one of the top ten finalists in the 2018 Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest, in an effort to find out more about his mush-mouthed noises and how he finds the lyrics and tunes within his music.
Award-winning songwriter Eric Bettencourt is making the journey from Austin to compete as a finalist in the Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest at the Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival in Richardson. Over the years Bettencourt has released four albums, two EP’s, and collected a steady stream of national recognition and prestigious songwriting awards.
Bettencourt rested his guitar long enough to vibe through our set list of questions as we attempted to seek answers about the unique sound that labels his songwriting career.
It only takes a few moments to be completely enchanted and inspired by soulful folk-rock singer Christine Hand who was selected as a finalist in the Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest. The Americana songwriter is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and recently released her first album, The Book of the World, now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.
Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival spent a bit of time chatting with Christine to find out a little more about the momentum and spurring that led to becoming a finalist in this competition.
Mia Rose Lynne has made a name for herself as an up and coming award-winning singer and songwriter. She’s originally from Novato, an eclectic upper-middleclass town in Northern California. And now, living in “Music City, USA” — Nashville, Tennessee, she’s joined the ranks of “young, progressive songwriters working outside the pop country mainstream,” according to the bio page on her website.
Lynne spent a lot of time working on both the theatrical stage as well as the music stage, honing her craft through songwriting and live performances, as well as garnering accolades for her efforts along the way, including taking home the First Place prize at the 2017 Kerrville Folk Festival, Second Place at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase Contest, and the 2014 American Songwriting Awards, and more.
This year, Lynne has been advanced as a finalist in the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival’s Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest, and it’s because of this that we interviewed her to get a better feel for what she’s all about: how she came to enter the competition, what her background in music is, and what inspired her to become a performer and songwriter. Lynne is fun, full of energy, and it seems she’s got the right idea about how to celebrate if she wins the contest this year.
As her band, True North’s website states, “Kristen Grainger, (vocals, ukulele) is the voice of True North. Her songwriting has received national recognition — “Be Here Now” was named Song of the Year, folk category, for the 2015 IMEA Awards; she placed second at the 2015 MerleFest Songwriting Contest; and she was one of ten finalists in the 2014 Telluride Troubadour songwriting contest, performing solo in front of 10,000 ‘Festivarians.’ Kristen and Dan Wetzel’s song, “Mountain Boy” was featured on the European World Bluegrass Festival’s compilation CD released in 2008. The duo also was chosen from more than 800 entries to perform two originals, “Limbo” and “Doris Dean,” in the finals at the Kerrville New Folk Songwriters’ Contest. Their song “Hard Place to Suffer (And That Really Gets Me Down)” won the 2010 Wintergrass Song Contest.”
Authentic folk music creates stories that take you through a wide range of feelings and experiences. Richard Berman is a classic American folk storyteller and the Massachusetts based singer-songwriter a true craftsman of the art.
When asked about his genre, Berman says “I would call myself a lyric driven singer/songwriter in the folk tradition- but please don’t ask me to define that tradition.” Read More
“Music is something that has always been there,” says John Carroll. His mother is a church pianist, his father a drummer. When he was five years old John started piano lessons. But John says it wasn’t until high school that he took up the guitar and everything changed. Music became his platform of expression and gave John an identity.
“When I want to grapple with an idea or even just to write a fun story, music is my language.” – John Carroll