The BMI Foundation’s annual Nashville Songwriting Scholarship will be revised and renamed The Dolly Parton Songwriters Award in honor of the legendary artist. The news was announced by the BMI Foundation Board Member and BMI’s VP, Creative Clay Bradley.
The Dolly Parton Songwriters Award is an annual, nationwide competition open to aspiring songwriters. The award was originally established in 2015 as the Nashville Songwriting Scholarship to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary year and to pay homage to Nashville.
The new program will also establish The Dolly Parton Music Fund, which will underwrite the annual awards to emerging songwriters as well as initiatives to provide or supplement music programs in public schools. The awards can be used as a career grant for study, instrument purchase, recording costs, or other professional expenses—and are not restricted to tuition costs.
Founding endowments include a lead gift from Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston as well as a contribution from country superstar Luke Combs, who donated proceeds from the recent BMI Parking Lot Party, which celebrated his nine No. 1 hit songs.
“I know how personal and important songwriting is to those that have the talent, and to all the others that enjoy those that have it. I’m proud to be part of a program that will help support songwriting in any way possible,” Parton shares. “Thanks to Sony Music Publishing, Luke Combs, and all the others that feel the same way and want to help support it. I have been with BMI since I published my first song as a child, so of course I’m very proud and honored to have a BMI Songwriters Award made in my honor.”
“The Dolly Parton Music Fund will support the work of the BMI Foundation for years to come and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our nation’s emerging songwriters. We are excited to be working with Dolly Parton on this program, not only honoring her legacy as a songwriter, but her unwavering commitment to fostering new talent, music education, and music appreciation,” adds Bradley.
The revised program offers $20,000 for up to two of the best original song entries in the Americana, blues, bluegrass, contemporary Christian, country, folk, and roots genres. Judges for previous competitions have included Grammy-winning artist Kacey Musgraves, hit songwriter Rodney Clawson, and Nashville music industry veteran Mark Brown, among others.
The inaugural award will be presented in spring 2023 with applications opening in October.
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