WILKESBORO — MerleFest will officially reconvene Sept. 16-19, on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. MerleFest, dubbed by Rolling Stone as “the gold standard for bluegrass, Americana and string music festivals,” is normally held the last weekend of April, but the 2020 festival was canceled due to public safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Officials stressed that this would be a one-time-only move to this fall and they plan to return to the traditional April weekend in 2022.
On June 10, MerleFest will host the 2021 MerleFest Artist Announcement Celebration live stream. Beginning at 7 p.m., the 2021 festival’s full artist lineup will be announced, tickets will officially go on sale, health and safety protocols will be covered and the show will feature a nostalgic look back at MerleFests past. Be sure to subscribe to MerleFest’s YouTube channel and social media accounts for up-to-date information ahead of the Artist Announcement Celebration.
MerleFest will be accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest from April 15 to June 15, 2021. CASC is one of the most acclaimed songwriting contests in roots and Americana music and has a reputation for launching careers as well as drawing attention to important new talent. The contest is split into four genre-based categories including bluegrass, general, gospel and country. First through third place winners will be chosen in each category at MerleFest 2021, which is set to take place on September 16-19, 2021.
Now in its 29th year, CASC is an extraordinary opportunity for songwriters to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale. Aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest at merlefest.org/CASC.
All entries will require a $30 fee per entry. All lyrics must be written in English and no instrumental entries will be accepted. The deadline to enter is June 15, 2021. Finalists will be invited to the final round of the competition, which takes place Friday, September 17, during MerleFest. First-place winners will receive $1,000 cash and a performance slot at MerleFest.
Net proceeds from the contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception, the Chris Austin Scholarship has helped 109 students and awarded over $47,100. For contest rules, how to enter, and more details about the contest, visit merlefest.org/CASC.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including old-time, classic country, bluegrass, folk and gospel, and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic rock, and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the multi-day event. MerleFest is the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects, and other educational needs.