The FreshGrass and No Depression Awards celebrate and reward emerging artists who offer a fresh take on the tradition of bluegrass and roots music. With four categories and prizes totaling over $25,000 cash — plus brand new instruments and studio time at Compass Records — we’re proud that our awards are among the most ambitious of their kind.
If you are an unsigned band, banjoist, or fiddler, have wicked skills, and are performing music that’s deeply informed by bluegrass even as it tests boundaries, we want to hear you. Once you’ve submitted and been pre-screened, a panel of judges led by banjo legend Alison Brown will invite five finalists in each category to participate in a head-to-head performance at the Freshgrass Festival.
Each finalist will need to perform one standard or traditional tune and one original composition. Finalists will receive a cash grant along with performance time at the festival.
The grand prize winner and runner-up — selected on the basis of compositional originality, instrumental and vocal skills, stage presence and performance, and proficiency in the tradition — will take home an array of additional prizes, including a large grant, the opportunity to perform at the following year’s festival, recording sessions at Compass Records, and hand-crafted instruments.
Important note: There will be no DUO contest in 2017. Any duos considering a submission should add a third player and enter the band contest (minimum of three members).
NO DEPRESSION SINGER-SONGWRITER AWARD
In 2017 we introduced the No Depression Singer-Songwriter Award, which recognizes and rewards up-and-coming roots music singer-songwriters from the U.S. and beyond. A preliminary committee will narrow the field of submissions to five finalists, who will travel to the FreshGrass Festival to perform in front of a live audience. A panel comprised of No Depression editors and artist judges will select from five finalists based on the merits of their lyrics, music, instrumentation, and overall performance. All music is original in this competition, and all performances are solo.