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 2013 winners were:
1st Place- John Cloyd Miller (Asheville, N.C.) - "Cloud of Dust"
2nd Place- Todd Grebe (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Master of My Destiny"
3rd Place- Aaron Burdett (Saluda, N.C.) - "Magpie"
1st Place- Melody Walker (San Francisco, Calif.) - “Black Grace”
2nd Place- Lorraine Jordan (Garner, N.C.) - "Judgment Day"
3rd Place- Kelsi Robertson Harrigill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) - "Just Any Moment"
1st Place - Eliot Bronson (Atlanta, Ga.) - "Sad Town"
2nd Place- Daniel Davis (Bristol, Va.) - "Homesick"
3rd Place- Michaela Anne (Brooklyn, N.Y.) - "Lift Me Up"
1st Place- Justin Wade Tam (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Cold Chicago”
2nd Place- Ryan Tanner (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Days to Think of You"
3rd Place- Ben Roberts & Emily Roberts (Nashville, Tenn.)- "Gold "