Kerrville's 2021 Grassy Hill New Folk 

Competition for Emerging Songwriters

In keeping with the KFFF mission of promoting public appreciation and support for songwriters, the Grassy Hill New Folk Songwriting Competition has been an annual highlight of Kerrville Folk Festivals since 1973.  Some former New Folk Finalists who have gone on to achieve name recognition in the music industry include Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, John Gorka, David Wilcox, James McMurtry, Tish Hinojosa, Hal Ketchum, Cosy Sheridan, Slaid Cleaves, Mark Elliott, Johnsmith, Ellis Paul, Anne Feeney, Buddy Mondlock, Pierce Pettis, Jonathan Byrd, Anais Mitchell and many more. 

COVID made in-person festivals prohibitive, however the New Folk tradition carried on in 2020 by hosting the Finalist and Winners Concerts all virtually. These can still be enjoyed on the KFFF YouTube channel


For 2021, plans are to host the New Folk Competition virtually and invite the six Winners to perform in-person at the fall festival event (exact dates TBA).  The entry window for the 2021 competition will be shorter, Jan 1 - March 7, 2021. Winners will be announced April 15th.  SOME RULES HAVE CHANGED; check it out. 



Entries are welcome from a diverse array of subgenres including, but not limited to Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Country, Global Roots, Gospel, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Zydeco, or various fusions as long as the songs are original compositions of the artist making the submission.

The Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation and the Community who attends our Festivals value diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We strive for gender parity and actively welcome participation from individuals of all cultures, races and religions.

Kerrville’s GRASSY HILL NEW FOLK COMPETITION FOR EMERGING SONGWRITERS is accepting entries beginning Jan. 1, 2021.  Twenty-four songwriters will be selected as Finalists.  From those twenty-four Finalists, six Winners will be selected as the 2021 Winners. 

Your safety and the safety of our guests is our highest priority.  Because of the “unknowns” presented by the Coronavirus, the Finalist Concerts for the 2021 GRASSY HILL NEW FOLK COMPETITION will be held virtually on May 22nd and 23rd, 2021 and the six Winners of the Competition will be invited to play at the KFF Foundation’s event in the fall of 2021, (specific dates TBA).

Entries will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2021 through March 7, 2021.

Twenty-four Finalists will be announced on April 15, 2021.

The 24 Finalists will submit a video performance of the original 2 songs they entered in the contest by May 14, 2021. The Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation will produce two virtual programs, each featuring 12 of the 24 Finalists that will be live streamed at 7:00 p.m. on May 22nd and 23rd, 2021.

Six Winners will be announced at the Kerrville Folk Festival and on a live stream broadcast of the Festival on Saturday, May 29th, 2021. 


Winners receive a $650 cash prize and some nifty KFF souvenirs, in addition to two complimentary full-festival passes to the KFFF fall festival event for themselves and a guest.

Each Winner is invited to perform a 20-minute set during the Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation’s festival event in the fall of 2021, dates TBA.


  1. You are invited to submit two of your original songs in a .mp3 or .m4a format.  Both songs combined may not exceed 8 minutes.  (Entries containing only one song or entries containing more than 2 songs, will be disqualified.)  

  2. You can enter New Folk more than once:  two new songs per entry fee.  Note:  You can be chosen as a Finalist only once.

  3. You must personally perform the songs on the submitted recordings.

  4. Judging is based on the originality, lyrics, melody, harmonic structure along with other song-craft elements.  Note:  You are not selected based on the quality of the recording.  The submission may range from a scratch to a mastered full band recording.  Helpful tip:  If the production of the song makes the lyrics difficult to hear you might be short-changing yourself. 

  5. You may submit an entry as a solo performer or as a duo. (No band name entries are allowed.)

  6. Only songs written after January 1, 2019 may be submitted.  It does not matter if the songs have been published and / or recorded, provided they were completed in their current form after January 1st, 2019.

  7. You retain all rights to the songs submitted.

  8. Please do not enter this songwriting competition if:

    • You are a previous New Folk Winner,

    • You were a finalist in both 2019 and 2020

  9. Your entry will be withdrawn if you are booked as a 2021 Kerrville Folk Festival performer or you are billed to play with a 2021 Kerrville Folk Festival performer.

  10. The submission platform will close at midnight on Sunday, March 7, 2021.

  11. As a finalist, you may choose to perform solo or invite one person to join you in your virtual submission.  If an entry is submitted as a duo and the duo is selected as a Finalist, both are required to perform and may not have a third performer join you. (No more than 2 people may perform in a New Folk virtual or in-person performance.)



On the KFF website's New Folk page below, click on the “Submit Entry” button OR go to  There is a form you must complete and a submission fee that must be paid before you can upload your song files.

Entry fees are as follows:

  • January 1 – January 31, 2021               $25

  • February 1 – February 28, 2021            $30

  • March 1 – March 7, 2021                     $35

Helpful tip:  Please make note of the two songs you submit.  If you submit multiple entries, please make note of the pairs of songs submitted in each of your entries.

If you have additional questions, please send via email to:

Notification of the 24 New Folk Finalists will be made to all contestants via email on April 15, 2021.