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Song Maker Competition

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The Derby Song Maker Competition began in 2022 at Derby Folk festival.  This traditionally-styled song-writing contest has been inspired by the John Birmingham Cup competition:

John died on the 17/1/05 and, by his will, set up a competition to encourage the art of unaccompanied singing – a cappella – and song writing.  He adopted the Cumberland Arms, Newcastle upon Tyne as his final home in the few tragically short months prior to his diagnosis.  He quickly became a well-loved member of the pub community, with his sense of humour and gruff honesty. He could be heard many nights in the back bar, singing his songs written from his broad experience of life.  It is the songs, however rough hewn – as many of John’s were – which is important, not the competition.

The brief for the Derby Song Maker Competition organisers is:

To provide a suitable space for a competition between song makers to perform a cappella and engage
the audience for the judges to make their decision as to who is the winner.
Similar competitions will be held at several festivals across the year.
The last heat and then overall final will be held at Derby Folk Festival in October annually.

The brief for each song maker is:

To create a traditional style song to be sung unaccompanied in the competition by the writer, or a
nominated person.
If there is any element of collaboration in the writing of the song, please add all contributors’ names on the competition form.
The song must be performed solo or as a duo.
The song must engage the audience in some meaningful way (through a chorus, moving them
emotionally, delivering with humour etc).

A newly written traditional styled song is one which could be from the people and would be able to be
passed on orally like telling a story. Common topics of folk songs might be DEATH / LOVE and LOSS /
WORK TRADES / SEASONS / WAR and HEROES / MUSIC and DANCE and could have a local focus.

Rules of the competition:

  1. There shall be two entry groups for the competition: 11 to 18 years, and over 18.
  2. Songs must be sung with no musical accompaniment, solo or as a duo.
  3. The song sung at the contest must be written by the singer or must have been written for the
    singer; this is in order to promote the art of song writing.
  4. The style of singing and the nature of the song shall be suitable for the songs to be appreciated
    in a pub, at a folk session, on a street corner, or round a campfire, etc.
  5. There is no entrance fee or monetary prize

The winner of each category of the overall final of the Song Maker Competition at Derby Folk Festival
will receive a bunch of FOLK3D Derby Folk Festival Flyer Flowers and the opportunity to perform their
winning song at the festival that year. They will also be invited back to Derby Folk Festival to perform
their winning song again to open up the overall final of the contest the following year and will have the
opportunity to be one of the judges on that panel for the overall final for that year if they wish.


You can enter by completing the entry form which you can download below…