The FreshGrass No Depression Singer-Songwriter Award recognizes and rewards up-and-coming roots music singer-songwriters from the U.S. and beyond. A preliminary committee narrows the field of submissions to three finalists, who travel to the FreshGrass Festival in N. Adams, Massachusetts to perform in front of a live audience. A panel comprised of No Depression editors and artist judges select the winner on the merits of their lyrics, music, instrumentation, and overall performance. All music is original in this competition, and all performances are solo.
2019 finalists included Abigail Lapell, Raye Zaragoza, and (contest winner) Anna Tivel. Watch videos of each captured at this year’s FreshGrass Festival by Beehive Productions in collaboration with Folk Alley.
Anna Tivel – Portland, Oregon
Anna Tivel reaches for that thread of understanding with her music, that moment of recognition, of shared experience. There are hundreds of thousands of miles on her touring odometer and each town is a tangled web of heartache and small reasons to believe. Tivel’s characters are both common and unforgettable. Ann Powers of NPR writes, “She possesses a genuine poet’s sense that words matter more than persona, or a showy performance. Her images linger, and become populated with the energy of the real.” With four full-length albums out, Tivel continues to touch on a common human thread.
Abigail Lapell – Toronto, Ontario
Call it prairie noir, or Canadiana desert rock: Abigail Lapell sings haunting, gorgeous modern folk songs. The Toronto vocalist, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist has released four acclaimed solo albums. ‘Hide Nor Hair,’ her Chris Stringer-produced sophomore LP, won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album of the Year in 2017. Since then, Lapell has been on the road, touring across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and playing at festivals like Pop Montreal, Mariposa, In The Dead Of Winter, Tiny Lights and Folk On The Rocks.Getaway, Lapell’s ambitious third release, is out February 1st 2019 on Coax Records/Outside.
Raye Zaragoza – Los Angeles, CA
Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer-songwriter who carries an acoustic guitar and a message. Her quiet yet powerful song “In the River,” written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, garnered half a million video views, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar. Writing about social issues comes naturally to Raye. “As a woman of color in America, social issues are things you deal with and see every day of your life,” she says. “I write about my experience and oftentimes my existence has been laced with injustice.” Her forthcoming sophomore LP will be released in 2020.