2022 Tucson Folk Festival
Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Competition
JOIN US FOR THE FINALIST SHOW AND OFFICIAL FESTIVAL KICK OFF!
FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2022: 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Club Congress Plaza – 311 E Congress St, Tucson, AZ 85701
Suggested Donation at Door: $10
All Proceeds Benefit the 37th Annual Tucson Folk Festival. The finalist performances will be recorded and later made available on the Tucson Folk Festival Youtube Channel.
This year’s finalists include both notable Tucson songwriters as well as performers traveling in from out-of-state! Finalists include: Brett Altman, Nico Barberan, Chris Baron, Corrie Lynn Green, Mark Holdaway, Hathleen Kelso, Allison Leah, Kay Miracle, Gabrielle Pietrangelo, Mike P. Ryan.
The Stefan George Memorial Songwriting Competition is a beloved part of the festival each year – a chance for established and emerging songwriters to share new insights, new songs inspired by the times, and play for an audience that is hanging on every lyric. Each year, over 50 entrants compete for 10 spots in the finalist showcase at the Tucson Folk Festival. The winner of this showcase receives a coveted evening slot at the Saturday night festival.
Each year, a 1st Place, 2nd Place, and 3rd Place winner are decided by a panel of judges considering the performers’ originality and uniqueness, song structures and arrangement, talent, and general stage presence.
- 1st PLACE | $100 Cash Award, Free Registration to 2023 Folk Alliance International Conference, Bookmans Gift Card, 25 minute set on the Jacome Plaza Stage on Saturday, April 2 at 6:15 pm
- RUNNER-UP | $50 Cash Award, Bookmans Gift Card, 12 minute set on the Jacome Plaza Stage on Saturday April 2 at 6 PM
- 3rd PLACE | TKMA T-Shirt and Cap, Bookmans Gift Card
BRETT ALTMAN – New York City, New York
Brett Altman is a singer-songwriter based just outside of New York City. A self-described late bloomer, Brett didn’t first perform publicly until the age of 20. Now, he can’t get enough of playing and connecting with new communities. His upbeat music is a fusion of pop and folk, with songwriting that illuminates moments of everyday life. For fans of Jackson Browne and Jason Mraz.
NICO BARBERAN – Chicago, Illinois
Nico Barberan is an eclectic guitarist, composer, and music instructor born in Santiago, Chile. Nico moved to Chicago, to immerse himself in the city’s diverse music scene, stepping on important Chicago stages and festivals. He has a unique, inspirational guitar style that stems from a playful attitude towards music and an extraordinary ability to incorporate music from his homeland and other South American countries. His career has reached stages in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and throughout the United States.
CHRIS BARON – Pacific Northwest
Chris Baron hails from the Pacific Northwest. When he picks his favs, he always pick ‘the quirky song’ on an album. But it has to have a certain prettiness. For his original songs, Baron likes surprises and subtle messages. He is excited by the different compositional choices a songwriter makes between a recorded album, and a live performance. Lately he writes most of his songs to be performed. He says, “I’m pretty sure that travel is the great leveler, and the best factor is the X.”
CORRIE LYNN GREEN – Virginia
Corrie Lynn Green is an Appalachian singer from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She is a singer songwriter bringing her unique perspective of life in the hollow towns surrounded by the Shenandoah National Park.
MARK HOLDAWAY – Tucson, Arizona
Mark Holdaway is best known as the “Kalimba Guy”, but he has been playing guitar-based folk and world music in Tucson since he arrived here in 1995. After several years of submitting songwriting applications, he has been recognized as a Tucson Folk Festival songwriting finalist in 2021 and 2022. His songs explore as wide ranging topics as gender issues to the weather.
KATHLEEN KELSO – Los Angeles, California
Kathleen Kelso, 25, is an LA-based singer-songwriter who spends her time making observations about the world, then making them rhyme. A born performer, she has a charming onstage presence that balances out the melancholy found in many of her songs. She draws inspiration from many musical traditions, but feels most comfortable in the indie/folk genre. And if she’s not making music, you can probably find her making quilts!
ALLISON LEAH – Nashville, Tennessee
With just a guitar in hand, “Allison’s style makes any performance feel as intimate and honest as the words in her songs” (Lightning 100). Allison Leah is a folk-pop singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN. While her ethereal melodies and crystal clear voice will hook you in, it is the message of her music that will keep you coming back for more.
KAY MIRACLE – New York / Washington
Kay Miracle is an Americana Troubadour with over 200 original songs. She lives in both New York and Washington State and finds her muse on the train rails across America. Kay uses songwriting to heal PTSD with Veterans and help victims of trauma to find their voice using music for healing. Kay has won numerous songwriting awards in New York, Washington DC, Washington State and Louisiana.
GABRIELLE PIETRANGELO – Tucson, Arizona
Gabrielle Pietrangelo is an independent musician based in Tucson. After releasing one solo album early in her career, Pietrangelo immersed herself for many years in harmony driven collaborations, including Silver Thread Trio and Sister Solace. Her 2020 EP release, On My Way Back Home, marked a return to roots of solo performance, guitar driven arrangements, finger picking, open tuning and ethereal melodies and harmonies. Gabrielle is currently working on a full length album.
MIKE P. RYAN – Oklahoma
Born and raised in rural Oklahoma, Mike P. Ryan writes heartfelt songs about the struggles and triumphs of everyday people. His smooth, clear vocal style is often compared to James Taylor and Jackson Browne while his evocative lyrics reflect the influences of musical wordsmiths like Robert Earl Keen and James McMurtry. Winner of a host of prestigious national songwriting awards, Mike engages and entertains audiences at music venues, folk festivals, and house concerts from coast to coast.
Syndenn Sweet, Brian Hanner, and Michael Markowitz
The Tucson Folk Festival songwriting competition began in the early 2000s by a passionate group of songwriters and performers. Today, the competition is in tribute to one of those founders, Stefan George.
Noted for his outstanding songwriting, Stefan George had a passion for music that drove him to excel in virtually every musical endeavor he set his sights upon. And there were many, even within the confines of our so-called folk music festival where he played with so many different ensembles and configurations including the String Trotters, Arm and Hammer, White-bread, Songtower, BK Special, Four Corners, the Ditchriders and, of course, under his own name and that of his beloved partner, Lavinia White.
While Stef was already making a name for himself throughout the late 1980s and ‘90s, and often playing in primetime slots at the festival, for 20 years he could still be seen backing his mother, Emilie, usually in the hot mid-afternoon sun, whose sets were part performance and part history lesson of Eastern European folk music and traditions that she grew up with and were so much a part of her life. While it would be both difficult and redundant to add to what has already been written about Stefan, it should be noted he and Emilie were as much a part of this festival as any one or two people could be.
2021 – Annie Sorrells & Jerry Green, Phoenix, Arizona
2020 – Competition cancelled due to COVID-19
2019 – Nick and Luke
2018 – Sophia Rankin
2016 – Janelle Loes
2015 – Jen Hajj
- October 1 | Application acceptance opens ($25 Application Fee for all submissions)
- December 15 | CLOSED: Application acceptance closes
- January 1 | Songwriting Contest Finalists announced
- January 8 | Deadline for Finalist commitment to attend
- April 1 | Finalist Competition at Club Congress (Festival Kick-Off Concert)
- April 2 | Winner and Runner-Up Perform Sets on Plaza Stage