J B Cup

The John Birmingham Cup – for unaccompanied song-writing – is going to be a little different in Derby this year!

This will not be the usual competitive Heat One, but…We invite YOU to WRITE SONGS ABOUT DERBY

We’d love you to video yourself singing your song, and send it in for FOLK3D to see and share.

These will then be included throughout the festival weekend as part of the festival’s Facebook Fringe.

Videos can be sent via WeTransfer or other file sharing link to admin@derbyfolkfestival.co.uk

Please include the following details with your email:

Name of Applicant:
Name of Song:
Writer of Song:
Info about song: (why it was written for person, any story behind)

The rules for the 2020 John Birmingham Competition at Derby Folk Festival are a little different this year:

John Birmingham, whose legacy is the John Birmingham Cup, was a regular at the home of the competition, The Cumberland Arms in Newcastle. In the last few months of his life he could be found singing his songs from his experience of life in the back bar. He wanted to encourage the writing of a capella songs that audiences could relate to, and possibly join in with.

We are asking that you write songs about Derby, submit them as a video and we will be showing them throughout the weekend of our online festival.

The words must be original, the tunes not necessarily so.

The song must be sung unaccompanied, and as a solo or duo.

There will be no entry fee, and no prizes. Please note that this is not the usual Derby heat , as the competition is on hold for the time being.

As ever, massive thanks to FOLK3D for looking after this part of the festival for us.

FOLK3D - Folk Arts animating schools and communities

Although we won’t be using the usual Rules this year, we’re still looking for the same format, of unaccompanied, original songs.

The standard rules, for background, are as follows:

For Unaccompanied Singing

  1. John died on the 17th January 2005 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. Since his death the Competition has been held at the Cumberland Arms
    since. However in 2008 Whitby Festival agreed to host and support the competition, in order to
    broaden its base, an aim which John hoped for. It is the singing and the songs, however rough
    hewn – as many of John’s were – which is important, not the Competition.
  2. The terms of the Trust under which the competition is set up are:-
    ‘… to create an a cappella competition for singers performing their own work or work
    written specially for them…with a small monetary prize for the winner and runner up… The
    John Birmingham Cup is then to be inscribed with the winner and location annually.’
  3. Rules of the competition:-
    a. There shall be two entry groups for the competition; one under 25 and the other over 25.
    b. Songs written must be sung a cappella singly or as a duo.
    c. The song sung at the competition 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.
    d. Performance times maybe tailored to fit in with competition time frames, but competitors
    will be notified of this prior to the start of the competition.
    e. 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.
    f. The prize money will be for two places for over 25’s and for under 25’s. In place of third
    place special mention can be made of a singer at the judges’ discretion.
    g. The winner of the over 25’s shall have his or her name engraved on the Cup which will be
    presented at the competition but kept at the Cumberland Arms, Byker, Newcastle upon
    Tyne and shall receive a small cup, as shall the winner of the under 25’s, theirs to keep.
    h. There may be other prizes for those placed as above at the discretion of the organisers.
    i. The entrance fee will go directly into the running of the competition.
    The Trustee of the John Birmingham Cup.
    May 2008