Tennessee Songwriter’s Week State Contest Kicks Off for Fifth Year

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Artwork provided by Tennessee Visitor\\’s Bureau website.

Recently, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development kicked off their Fifth Annual Tennessee Songwriter’s Week competition. The contest was developed to support music venues around the state, drive visitation to the state, and to put a focus on songwriting, which put Tennessee on the map. 

Last year more than 1,000 songwriters signed up to participate in the event, each performing in one of 70 different venues all around the state. The qualifying rounds begin on January 21, 2024. Anyone wishing to participate in this competition must register for a qualifying round between now and January 21, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. CST online. Complete rules can be read here. To sign up for the competition and see a complete list of performance dates and venues, click here. 

Qualifying rounds will take place in Middle Tennessee at locations in Eagleville, Murfreesboro, Red Boiling Springs, Springfield, Granville, Winchester, Gallatin, Celina, Cookeville, Crossville, Livingston, Pulaski, Manchester, and Linden.   

Two participants will be chosen from each qualifying round location to go on to the showcase rounds. These 140 competitors will perform in a showcase at one of the following seven locations:

  • Sunday, February 18, 2024, Lafayette’s Music Room, 2119 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
  • Monday, February 19, 2024, The Bijou Theatre, 803 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Songbirds Guitar & Pop Culture Museum, 212 W. Main St., Chattanooga, TN 370408
  • Wednesday, February 21, 2024, Ole Red Gatlinburg, 511 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
  • Thursday, February 22, 2024, The Down Home, 300 W. Main St. Johnson City, TN 37604
  • Friday, February 23, 2024, Temple Theatre, 109 N Russell St, Portland, TN 37148
  • Saturday, February 24, 2024, Franklin Theatre, 419 Main St, Franklin, TN 37064

Entrants will perform one song that does not exceed five minutes in length. The entrant must own the rights to the song which he or she wrote or co-wrote. The song may not disparage any group of persons, any religion or be considered obscene or inflammatory. 

The entrant may sing the song acapella, with an instrument or with live or taped back-up accompaniment, as long as the entrant has rights to the taped back-up performance. Up to two additional musicians may play back-up live for the entrant as the showcase, however there is only one winner. Everyone must be 18 years or older to participate.

Entrants will be evaluated on song quality, including lyrical originality and clarity of the narrative; and performance, including voice and instrumental sound, audibility and clarity of lyrics, and connection with the audience. Scoring will be done on numerical scales. Judging will be done by music industry professionals.

From the 140 showcase participants, seven will be chosen to perform at the Bluebird Café on March 24, 2024 at a private event attended by music industry professionals. There will be one winner from each of the showcase round locations. Each of these seven showcase winners will receive a prize package including: 

  • A two-night hotel stay at a hotel located near The Bluebird Cafe March 23, 2024 and March 24, 2024, worth $450.00.
  • A songwriting workshop with The Bluebird Cafe Team worth $75.00.
  • A one-year membership in the Nashville Songwriters Association International (“NSAI”), which will include mentoring sessions and a workshop worth $225.00.
  • A gift card valued at $100.
  • A branded, commemorative Taylor guitar worth $799.
  • A special commemorative poster of the experience from Bluebird Café.

Tennessee Songwriters Week is designated as the last full week of February each year according to state law. The event celebrates all genres of music, seven of which came out of the State of Tennessee.