Each year, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), along with presenting partners Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT hold an annual song contest inviting aspiring songwriters around the world to enter their songs and/or lyrics into one of two categories for a chance to win several incredible prizes.
Robert Ragosta (Nashville, Tennessee) was awarded the 20th annual contest’s Grand Prize for his song “Bad Idea For A Love Song,” (co-written with Zack Dyer, Austin Nivarel, and Joe Ragosta) and took home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with multi-platinum singer-songwriter Elle King and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London, as well as several other prizes including a brand new Martin guitar.
Mark Giufre (Burnt Hills, New York) won the 20th annual contest’s Lyric-Only category with his entry “Cast Away,” winning a mentor session with legendary songwriter Tom Douglas, $2,000 cash, a Martin guitar, and more. Ten additional songwriters placed in the contest, each winning a Martin guitar as well as a year membership to NSAI.
With nearly 3,000 entries, each of the total 21 placing songs advanced through several levels of judging with the final judging event taking place Spring 2020, where the Grand Prize-winning song was determined by a panel of elite judges. In the Fall of 2020, each of the winners connected via Zoom with their mentors, receiving valuable insight and inspiration to propel them into the new year.
“Tom [Douglas] was the most down to earth person,” said Lyric-Only winner Giufre. “Being a relative ‘outsider’ to the business and coming face to face with one of the best is unnerving, but talking to Tom was like connecting with an old friend. His authenticity, knowledge, and passion are what makes him the perfect mentor, especially to someone like myself. His goal is always to connect to the listener in a deeply personal way and to tell a story. Tom said that the power of song lies in its ability, in only a couple of minutes, to tell a story that may span many years and evoke the strongest of emotions in the listener. I think he embodies this as well and it was a perfect connection.”
The judging process for the 21st Annual NSAI Song Contest presented by Martin Guitars and Strings and CMT is now underway, with the final judging set to take place February 2021. Up to 22 songwriters will place, and this year the Grand Prize winner will take home $5,000 cash, mentor sessions with songwriter-artist Tenille Townes and hit songwriters Ross Golan and Joe London of And The Writer Is… podcast, a CMT prize pack, and a Martin guitar. The Lyric-Only winner will receive $2,000 cash, a mentor session with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Brett James, and a Martin guitar as well.
NSAI sends special thanks to And The Writer Is…, Anthem Entertainment, ASCAP, BMI, CMT, Martin Guitars and Strings, SESAC, Southwest Airlines®, and We Make Tapes & Discs for supporting the contest and NSAI Mission.
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