Meet the Five 2017 FreshGrass/No Depression Singer-Songwriter Award Finalists
UPDATE: Emily Keener was named the winner of the Singer-Songwriter Award on Sunday afternoon at FreshGrass. The judges were Rachel Chanoff, curator of performing arts and film for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA); Aoife O’Donovan; and ND’s Editor-in-Chief Kim Ruehl and Publisher Chris Wadsworth.
At long last, FreshGrass is here. Kicking off today at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, the annual roots festival runs through Sunday, September 17. One of our favorite events of festival weekend is the Singer-Songwriter Award competition, which this year takes place on Saturday, September 16. Each of the five below finalists will perform for a jury and live audience, with a winner and runner-up announced on September 17.
Read about each of the finalists below, and be sure to check back to see who took home the trophy!
For more information on FreshGrass, click here.
Rachel Laven is a young singer songwriter with 15 years of stage experience. This Texas native is known for turning eyes and ears with her electric vocals and her provocative songwriting. She has performed nationally and internationally at festivals, theatres, house concerts, and small venues alike. Songs from her new record helped her to win the 2016 New Folk Songwriting Competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival.
Part virtuoso and part storyteller, you might say that Jacob Johnson does with a guitar what Gene Kelly did with dance. Although his songwriting has won awards and his guitar-playing has put him on stage with Tommy Emmanuel and Phil Keaggy, his ability as an entertainer is what has won fans throughout the southeast. He refers to himself as “a ham that just wants to be on stage” but he’s also an deeply talented guitarist and songwriter with a unique voice.
Joseph Alton Miller
For years, Joseph Alton Miller has embraced the life of a wayfarer. Whether it was hiking up Mount Katahdin in Maine or backpacking through Yosemite National Park in California, his “abandonment from society,” as he calls it, has always allowed him time to reflect and pen his folk tunes. Such an untethered lifestyle was the primary muse for his latest work, “Songs of Travel for the Vagabond,” a striking new EP released in May. His sound is reminiscent of a modern-day Woody Guthrie, and Miller names the genre luminary as one of his influences,
Chicago native and Berklee College of Music graduate Aurora Birch is a folk-rock singer/songwriter based in the greater Boston area. She specializes in heartfelt, contemplative songwriting, weaving purposefully through the spectrum of nonsense and lucidity, of infinite and infinitesimal, of delicately fanciful and brutally blunt.
Commanding tradition while still proving herself an innovator, Aurora’s music sounds like the thesis statement of a fundamental force.
Emily Keener is an eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter from Wakeman, OH. Since her exciting journey into the Top 12 on NBC’s The Voice Season 10, Emily has been writing and recording diligently in an effort to capture the energy of this most transformative year. Emily started playing the guitar when she was 11 years old and began writing songs when she was almost 12. A natural curiosity and passion for music quickly got her performing frequently and writing constantly. Almost 6 years later, she has written over 100 original songs and released three EPs and two LPs.