With separate public and critics’ awards, twice as many songwriters were honored by St. Cecilia Music Center in this year’s contest. Listen to the winning songs; check out the reaction of winners.
For West Michigan bands such as The Accidentals, The Legal Immigrants and Lou Baron & The New Lovers, the first time was the charm.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
For composers such as Grand Rapids’ Roger MacNaughton, it was a three-peat.
St. Cecilia Music Center’s annual ArtPrize music competition honored 10 $1,000 winners in its 2015 contest – five chosen by ArtPrize voters and five picked by a panel of critics. Although overshadowed by ArtPrize’s $200,000 grand prize recipients, the song contest winners were revealed as part of the overall announcement during Friday night’s awards ceremony at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
Chosen from 78 entries in this year’s contest, all of the winners are from Michigan and most are familiar to audiences across the region.
Leading the way was popular Traverse City indie-folk trio The Accidentals, who tallied the most ArtPrize votes for songs in the folk/country category with their entry, “The Silence,” perhaps the group’s best-known single and one which already has been used in a TV commercial for Shanty Creek Resorts.
The band performed a few times in different locations as part of a “busking” schedule during the ArtPrize competition to promote the song and organized a street team to help spread the word about the entry.
REACTIONS: ‘FEELING THE LOVE,’ ‘SPEECHLESS’ AND ‘TOTALLY SURPRISED’
“Winning the public vote for ‘The Silence’ just strengthens our commitment to the people who voted for us, shared for us, sweat with us,” said multi-instrumentalist Savannah Buist, noting the band is following up its win with a pair of hectic tours – one across the Midwest and another on the West Coast. “We have a music ‘family’ and it is growing every day.”
Added bandmate Katie Larson: “We feel the love and it fuels this crazy journey.”
Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Max Lockwood, a solo artist who also performs in the band Big Dudee Roo, won the critic’s choice award in the same category, noting he was “a bit speechless” and “beyond honored” by the recognition.
Fennville jazz vibraphonist and composer Jim Cooper, a teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, said he was “totally surprised” to win the critic’s choice award in the jazz category and plans to use the money to “kickstart” his next recording project.
For singer Angela Teeple and guitarist Kyle Sullivan – who front the electronic rock band AOK from Grand Rapids – winning the critic’s choice award in the pop/electronic category also was an unexpected pleasure.
“We were all sort of shocked and excited,” Sullivan said. “Any recognition at this level is a good thing. It will put us in front of new people who haven’t heard of us yet. It helps that ArtPrize is so well known.”
Winners also receive studio time at Michael Crittenden’s Mackinaw Harvest Music studios in Grand Rapids, so Sullivan said AOK will use the prize winnings and studio recording time to help the group record its next album early next year.
THE COMPLETE LIST OF SONG CONTEST WINNERS
(Sponsored by CompuCraft)
Public vote: Amanda Vernon, “Justice for All”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/amanda-vernon/2015/justice-for-all
Critic’s choice: AOK, “Kickin up Stones”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/aok/2015/kickin-up-stones
(Sponsored by Joan Buchanan, Dave and Barb Martin, Sue Tiggleman)
Public vote: Roger MacNaughton, “Michigan Morn”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/roger-macnaughton/2015/michigan-morn
Critic’s choice: Jim Cooper Trio, “Third Circle”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/jim-cooper/2015/third-circle
(Sponsored by Kim S. Mitchell)
Public vote: Matthew Fisher, “Seasons”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/matthew-fisher/2015/seasons
Critic’s choice: Grand Rapids Symphony composers, “Mathias Alten Triptych”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/grand-rapids-symphony-composers/2015/mathias-alten-triptych
(Sponsored by St. Cecilia Music Center Board of Directors)
Public vote: The Accidentals, “The Silence”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/the-accidentals/2015/the-silence-by-the-accidentals
Critic’s choice: Max Lockwood, “Burning it Down”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/max-lockwood/2015/burning-it-down
(Sponsored by Revue Magazine)
Public vote: Lou Baron & the New Lovers, “Rock Bottom”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/lou-baron-the-new-lovers/2015/rock-bottom
Critic’s choice: The Legal Immigrants, “Fork in the Road”
Listen to the song here: http://www.artprize.org/joe-bockheim/2015/the-legal-immigrants-fork-in-the-road
For the first time, St. Cecilia added a critic’s choice component to the contest, recruiting experts from the West Michigan music scene to lend their critical ears to entries in five categories. Each genre carried a $1,000 award determined by ArtPrize voters and a second $1,000 prize awarded by the critics.
“I’m happy that the critic’s choices were different than the public,” said Cathy Holbrook, St. Cecilia’s executive director. “Our goal was to recognize even more musicians and that is what is happening.”
Cooper said having a critic’s choice awards “adds a very welcomed new dimension to the competition.”
Repeat winners include MacNaughton, who has now won three times in the jazz category over the past four years, and Matthew Fisher, who also won the classical award last year for “Glorious Christmas.”
MacNaughton once again credited his win to the musicians who participated in recording his song, “Michigan Morn,” namely Charlie Hoats, Eddie Eicher, Carlos Melendez and Susan Mora.
“I like to think that the simple melody and chords struck a nostalgic feeling in those that heard it,” said MacNaughton, who experienced “intense joy” in learning of yet another win. He said he’ll keep “composing and recording music that makes me happy.”
With more than 30 songs in the competition, the folk/country category this year drew by far the most entries.
Copyright 2015, Spins on Music LLC