The grand prize winner of the USA Songwriting Competition tells her story for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Silver Creek Revival, The Gasoline Gypsies, Matt Lenny, Missing Days & more.
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Sav Buist of The Accidentals likes to say that “songwriting is cheaper than therapy.”
So it’s particularly satisfying when she’s written a heartfelt song that really strikes a chord with listeners and especially with those seeking comfort.
And when that song, “The Line,” goes on to win the grand prize in the prestigious USA Songwriting Competition, well, that’s beyond gratifying.
“It’s completely mind-blowing. I still haven’t really absorbed that that happened,” Buist said of her recent win in the 27th annual songwriting competition, not only snagging top honors in the folk category but taking home the overall grand prize worth $50,000 in cash, merchandise and services.
“It makes me really happy because that song comes from such a vulnerable place for me. I’m happy that it’s resonating with people.”
Written during a turbulent time period for the country and after a childhood friend committed suicide, Buist said “The Line” – which appears on indie-folk trio The Accidentals’ 2021 album, “Vessel” – was “a way of finding closure and being able to breathe in a healthy way while still bringing important questions about truth … and asking questions and being present to the forefront.”
The multi-instrumentalist and singer conceded she initially ignored phone calls from the songwriting competition informing her of the award because she thought they were spam calls. And she didn’t realize she had won the grand prize until she later received an affidavit the contest requires from winners.
“It was kind of an Accidentals’ way of doing things, even now,” she quipped, adding that she’s forever grateful to her booking agent for encouraging her to submit an entry. (View the full list of winners in 15 categories online here.)
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE showcased the winning song, along with a track from The Accidentals’ recent “Reimagined” release. Watch a video for “The Line” here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast.
VIDEO: “The Line,” The Accidentals (2020 NPR Tiny Desk Contest)
The top honors in the national competition that’s been won in the past by the likes of renowned songwriters David Wilcox, American Authors and Vikki Simpson of The Waifs comes after a wildly productive and active year for The Accidentals, a band now based in Michigan and Nashville, Tenn.
COLLABORATING WITH KABOOM COLLECTIVE AND MANY ICONIC SONGWRITERS
Not only did the band start the year by releasing its second “Time Out” compilation of songs co-written with iconic American songwriters, but it also collaborated on release of “Reimagined” with Cleveland’s Kaboom Collective youth orchestra, a project which reworked songs from across The Accidentals catalog in symphonic fashion.
The trio and collective followed that with a Midwest tour that stopped in August at a jam-packed Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
“We were lucky to work with them. These guys are so talented,” said Buist, who moved to Nashville from Traverse City more than a year ago, but still spends summers back in Michigan. “It breathed a totally new life into the songs.”
The Accidentals have long mentored youthful musicians, with Buist regarding the tutoring as “adding another link in the chain” that began when she and bandmate Katie Larson first were inspired by The Moxie Strings after the Celtic/Americana group made a presentation to students at Traverse City West High School.
Larson and Buist went on to attend Interlochen Arts Academy, founded The Accidentals, added percussionist Michael Dause and the rest, as they say, is history. Buist and Larson now reside much of the year in Nashville; Dause is in Grand Rapids.
Buist said being surrounded by talented songwriters and musicians has inspired robust and “really honest” collaborative co-writes, which she says is “Nashville’s way of getting a cup of coffee.”
“We feel like we’re representing Michigan in a very real way,” she said, noting that other prominent Michiganders such as Billy Strings, Lindsay Lou and Patty Pershayla have made the move to Music City, too.
Even after a hectic 2022, Buist said the coming year has “a lot of stuff in the works,” too — something that includes studying for her biology degree from Middle Tennessee State University, an academic pursuit in which she’s always had interest.
The Accidentals, meanwhile, plan to record and release the third edition of “Time Out” featuring co-writes with notable songsmiths (including the aforementioned Wilcox), producing “culinary campfire songs” with Tom Paxton, and moving forward on a long-talked-about album of cover songs.
“We’re not slowing down by any means,” she said.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights music by Michigan-bred artists at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also boasted new music from The Gasoline Gypsies, Brian Koenigsknecht, Moss Manor, Silver Creek Revival, Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Matt Lenny & The Breakdown, The Heiden Underground and Missing Days. Listen to the show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (12/9/22)
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