Three finalists from each category compete on the Austin Stage at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC. Transportation to and from the festival and any other expenses are the responsibility of the finalist. Three nights of lodging (room and taxes only) are provided for each finalist. Each finalist receives up to three all-access passes to the festival. Co-writers will be treated as one writer for lodging, credentials, and prizes.
First place winners of each category perform their song on the Cabin Stage. Each song in the finals must be performed live by the composer, with no more than one accompanist other than a co-writer and no performances to pre-recorded tracks. If there are several co-writers, all will be allowed to perform song. The first tie-breaker in the finals will be the highest score given to a song by an individual judge. The 2014 finalists:
Josh Crews (Boone, N.C.) – "Crossties"
Paul Harrigill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Amber Nugent (Ferriday, La.) – "I’m Blue"
Chelsea McBee of The Random Assortment & the Christian Lopez Band (Shepherdstown, W.Va.) – "Gone-A-Rye"
Gary Alan Ferguson (Alexandria, Va.) – "Time To Praise the Lord"
Frank Hurd (Raleigh, N.C.) – "Light"
Allen Smith and Corey Smith of Ash Breeze (Robbins, N.C.) – "Without Love"
Dan Buehner (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Ben Childs (Oxford, Miss.), both of Hollering Pines – "Cadillac"
Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) – "If You Never Let Me Go."
Becky Warren (Nashville, Tenn.) – "Call Me Sometime"
Clint Alphin (Dunn, N.C.) - "Nobody Knows My Name"
Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman (Nashville, Tenn.) – "My Turn"
Joseph Terrell of Mipso (Chapel Hill, N.C.) – "Angelina Jane is Long Gone"