Gathering in the Gap Music Festival

2018 Songwriting Contest


Click here for our 2018 entry form


2018 Official Contest Rules and Eligibility


The 2018 "Gathering In The Gap" Music Festival offers area songwriters entry into its annual songwriting contest. A crowd favorite, the songwriting contest showcases outstanding, but under-recognized, performing songwriters who represent the spirit and traditions of Appalachian culture. Both traditional and newer styles of songs are encouraged.


Song topics include songs relative to Americana and related topics and topical songs about historic or current events. Song genres should have roots in Appalachian culture, such as Old-Time, Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Blues and Rockabilly.


  • Songs entered must be the original work of the contestant, and each contestant is limited to two entries.
  • The Gathering in the Gap songwriting contest is open to those participants whose primary source of income (50% or more) is NOT derived from songwriting or publishing. Income from performances is not considered songwriting income.
  • Artists paid to perform at Gathering in the Gap are not eligible to enter the contest within the festival year in which they are being paid.
  • Members of the Gathering in the Gap Steering Committee and the staff of the Southwest Virginia Museum, along with their immediate families, are not eligible for contest participation.
  • Entrants under 18 years of age must submit an affidavit of parental guardian approval, along with the official entry form.


How To Enter


Entry Deadline: April 27th, 2018 by 4 p.m.


Entry Fee: $10 first song, $5 for a second song.


Please send a CD copy of the submission with a check or money order payable to the Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum, 106 West 1st Street North, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219 (do not send cash), or drop off during business hours at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap, VA.


All entries MUST arrive by deadline, not by postmark. Entry fees are non-refundable. and entries received too late to be judged will be returned unopened. The Gathering in the Gap Music Festival is not responsible for late, damaged, misdirected, insufficient postage, stolen, or misappropriated entries.


  • One completed entry form per song; signature must be original.
  • One song entry per compact disc.
  • Lyrics submitted typed, double spaced.
  • CD and lyric sheet must be labeled with the entrant's name, address, email, telephone number, song title, and co-authors name, if applicable.
  • CD and lyrics will not be returned.
  • Upon arrival of entry, contestant will receive notification of submittal by email.




Entries will be judged by a panel of professional songwriters, publishers, or other music industry professionals. Entries will be reviewed and judged on the following criteria:


  • Originality
  • Lyrics
  • Melody
  • Relevance to criteria
  • Note: Music production and performance quality of submittal are not considered.


From the original mailed CD entries, ten finalists will be chosen to compete on the main stage at the Gathering in the Gap's songwriting contest.




Ten finalists will be invited to compete on May 26, 2018 on the festival Main Stage at Gathering in the Gap in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Order of each finalists competition performance will be determined by random drawing. Each finalist will be given a free access ticket to the evening performances, along with a festival t-shirt. Transportation to and from the event, as well as other expenses, are the responsibility of the finalist.


Each song in the finals must be performed by the composer, with no more than one accompanist; performances to pre-recorded soundtracks will NOT be allowed. If there are several co-writers, all will be allowed to perform the song.


On-site judges will make the final determination of first, second, and third place winners based upon previous stated criteria and live performance.


Winners and Prizes


First place winner will receive:

$250 cash prize



Second place winner will receive:

$100 cash prize



Third place winner will receive:

$50 cash prize



NOTE: In the event of co-writers win, the division of cash prizes is the sole responsibility of the person whose name is listed first on the entry form.


Indemnity and Release


On-line entry form and signature on entry form constitutes each song submitted is an original song and releases the Gathering in the Gap songwriting contests, its sponsors, the Friends of the Museum, and the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park from all liability. Entry also constitutes permission to use the winner's name and likeness for future advertising and publicity without compensation.



"Gathering in the Gap" is a music festival to celebrate the rich tradition of old-time and bluegrass music found in Southwest Virginia.