Artists—and that includes songwriters—are often thought of as loners or introverts, and while that may be true for many, artists also crave connection and community. After all, the act of writing a song is a longing to communicate. Now, with the world starting to return to a new normal, we need to begin to rebuild the community that was lost. That’s why, as a singer and songwriter, I’m excited to be a part of the production team for a songwriting contest that will culminate in a live show. It’s called: If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song.
For this contest, we invite everyone to write a song based on a common title that acts as a songwriting prompt. We’ve all missed out on quite a lot in recent years due to the pandemic, so this year’s title is: “What Did I Miss?”
Fifteen winning songs will be performed at a live show next March 12. Entries are due Sept. 30.
Prior to the pandemic, this contest and show ran for five years. The first concert, in 2015, was held at Bernunzio’s Uptown Music, a business known for generously supporting local talent. The songwriting prompt that year was “Don’t Go Drinking on an Empty Heart.” It was such a huge success and we outgrew the venue. More recent concerts were held in the performance hall of the Hochstein School of Music. This year’s show will be held at the JCC Centerstage Theater.
The songs of 15 contestants will be chosen for the live showcase. Each of the selected songwriters will also receive $50. Our panel of judges—professional songwriters well-known in Rochester’s music scene—will evaluate music and lyrics and confirm that the lyrics take inspiration from the prompt (“What Did I Miss?”). They’ll also aim to curate a balanced show that reflects the diverse talent in Rochester.
In terms of songwriters and songs, we encourage all styles, ages, and points of view. You don’t need to make a professional recording. Remember: the only requirement is that your song is entitled “What Did I Miss?”
Songs can be written for performance by a soloist or a group, with accompaniment or a cappella. Contestants do not need to arrange the songs with instrumentation. We’ll have an excellent house band—with three backup vocalists—and songwriters who are selected for the show will be able to work with the band to create an arrangement.
Finished songs should be sent to [email protected]. Please include lyrics and a demo recording with your submission. You can learn more at www.rochestersongs.com or visit us @rochestersongs on Instagram and Facebook.
It’s a long held belief that musicians write one truly great song in their lifetime only to spend the rest of their time on earth trying to replicate its initial, visceral thrill and impact.
If everyone in Rochester wrote the same song started with a mental explosion in country crooner Jeff Rialles’ head when he got the idea from king of the airwaves Scott Regan and singer/songwriter Sarah Long Hendershot— now living in Spain — to have Rochester musicians write the same song whether it was a single lyric or a tune straight down to its melody and guts.
The local music glitterati of all genres and stripes gathered and the show titled “Don’t Go Drinking on an Empty Heart” and this tres cool event was born in 2002, opening the door of this year’s assignment, “What Did I Miss?” It’s not a battle of the bands, rather a hip, hip happening. So start writing and avoid being heard saying “What Did I Miss?”–Frank De Blase, Rochester Beacon music writer
As a singer and songwriter, I’ve always loved Rochester’s tight-knit music scene. In 2015, when I came back to Rochester from New York City, I was grateful to be warmly welcomed back into the local music community. I played open mics and coffee houses and met many other musicians (one of whom became my husband). In organizing If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song, my co-producers, Steve Piper and Sarah De Vallière, and I hope to expand that community and make its richness and resources available to even more local artists.
So, we invite you to participate in this year’s If All Rochester Wrote the Same Song. It’s a small but worthwhile step towards reinvigorating our songwriting community, facilitating artistic networking, and having a good time playing the music we love.
Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] with questions or concerns.
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