Bernard Ebb Songwriting Awards Application



The fourth annual Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards is searching for the best songwriters in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The competition, founded by Cathy Bernard, is named in honor of Fred Ebb, one of the great American songwriters and creator of Broadway hits such as Cabaret and Chicago and iconic songs including New York, New York. 

The adjudicated contest will award one talented songwriter a Grand Prize of $10,000. The Grand Prize Winner will also be awarded 25 hours of recording studio time and a 2 hour business strategy consultation with Innovation Station Music. A young songwriter who is 17 or younger will also be honored with $2,500.

Applicants are invited to submit three original songs. Each song must have lyrics. All genres are accepted. Maximum song length is 4:30min. Entries must be received by Friday, November 6, 2017. Finalists will be invited to perform their songs on March 2, 2018.


The contest will be a multi-staged, adjudicated competition. Jurors will include professional artists, venue operators, booking agents and music academia. The jury will select the finalists who will perform their original songs during a concert in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club.  Each finalist will perform two of the songs submitted for the competition. The Grand Prize Jury will attend the concert to select the winners. The winning songwriter and young songwriter will be announced at the close of the show.

Grand Prize Jury

  • A songwriter, arranger, producer, pianist, and vocalist, Sarah Brindell, is an Associate Professor of Songwriting at the Berklee College of Music. Sarah has touring credits around the world, captivating audiences with her melodious blend of Soul, Jazz, Bossa Nova, Reggae, Pop and R&B. She has shared the stage and recorded with many renowned artists including Norah Jones, Carole King and Raul Midon. In addition to teaching courses in songwriting, harmony, ear training, arranging, and stage performance, Sarah conducts clinics nationally and internationally, continually helping thousands of students to reach their full potential as professional musicians and songwriters. She was a finalist in the Song of the Year contest as part of VH-1’s Save the Music Foundation as well as the Billboard World Song Contest. Her original songs can be heard on television shows including MTV’s “Made.”
  • Nashville-based songwriter and Texas native Roger Brown has been a professional songwriter since his move to Nashville in 1982, after being discovered by Monument Records’ Tex Davis and Wayland Stubblefield. Roger’s songwriting credits include Trace Adkins’ “All Hat, No Cattle,” Kenny Chesney’s “She Gets That Way,” Randy Travis’ “That’s Where I Draw The Line,” Tanya Tucker’s “Fool, Fool Heart,” Nanci Griffith’s “I Knew Love,” Barbara Streisand’s “We Must Be Loving Right,” Gary Allan’s “Adobe Walls,” Patty Loveless’ “Born Again Fool” and George Strait’s “Need I Say More” and “We Must Be Loving Right.” He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2002 for his two songs which were featured in Broadway’s Urban Cowboy – The Musical, and has had compositions featured on numerous gold & platinum albums, as well as major motion pictures such as A Fire In The Sky and Red Rock West. In addition to songwriting, Roger serves the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s (NSAI) legislative committee and is the NSAI liaison to the Texas Songwriters Association. 
  • Brooklyn-based songwriter and performer Nathan Tysen is the lyricist of the critically acclaimed and Tony-nominated musical Tuck Everlasting. In 2014 he won the Edward Kleban Prize for most promising lyricist and the Fred Ebb Award for excellence in musical theatre songwriting. Nathan shares the Fred Ebb Award with composer Chris Miller. Together they have worked on Tuck Everlasting, The Burnt Part Boys and Fugitive Songs. An accomplished writer and performer of children’s music, Nathan has penned tunes for Sesame Street, Elmo’s World and The Electric Company. He was a contributing lyricist to the musical revue Stars of David, and has written material for the Broadway Inspirational Voices and BCEA’s Gypsy of the Year. He is the recipient of awards and grants from Jonathan Larson, Richard Rodgers, Daryl Roth, Kitty Carlisle Hart, ASCAP, and the NEA. He is a proud member of ASCAP and the Dramatist Guild. Nathan’s current projects include an adaptation of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amélie, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons.

First Round Jury

  • Timothy Blanchard, Talent Buyer & Owner, TDC Shows
  • Jeffrey Chappell, Director of Jazz Studies, Goucher College
  • Joel Friedman, Composer, Lecturer/Faculty Member, Catholic University
  • Sara Jones, Jazz & Commercial Voice Professor, Director of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Towson University
  • Anthony Randolph, Department of Music Chair, Howard University
  • Daniel Shores, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Music Production and Recording Technology, Shenandoah University
  • Janet Stanford, Artistic Director, Imagination Stage
  • David Zobell, Education Director, Signature Theatre

Judging Criteria

  • Composition
  • Lyrics
  • Originality
  • Melody/Harmony


Songwriters who are 18 years of age or older and are permanent, full-time residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. are invited to apply. Songwriters who are 17-years-old and younger are eligible to enter under the Young Songwriter category (please see separate application). Young Songwriter entrants must be born after November 6, 1999.

Applicants must be available to perform their original songs for a live audience in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday, March 2, 2018.

*Please see application to list an alternate performer if the songwriter is not also the singer.

The names and addresses of all contributing writers must be included in the entry form. It is the responsibility of the entrant to divide any prizes with co-writers as appropriate.

A lyric sheet must be included for each song.

The Grand Prize Winner and Young Songwriter Winner will be given local performance opportunities in the months following their award. Events and dates are forthcoming. The Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards requests that the winners are available for each performance opportunity. 


  • Applicants must not have made more than $5,000 in publishing royalties in 2016 and 2017 combined.
  • Entrants can’t be employed as a staff writer for a publishing company, nor have been paid for such services by a publishing company.
  • All submissions must be original and the sole work of the writer(s) listed. Entries shall not infringe on any copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property rights or any other rights of a third party. Submissions that violate these terms will be immediately disqualified. Applicants shall hold Bethesda Urban Partnership and the Bethesda Arts and Entertainment District from and against claims inconsistent with these requirements. Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards shall not be held liable for any legal action that results from unlawful or restricted submissions.
  • All songwriters must be permanent, full-time residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C.
  • Songwriters must only appear on one application. Songwriters may not be listed on more than one submission, including as a co-writer.  


Finalists will be notified approximately 4-6 weeks before the live performance in Bethesda, Maryland.
For more information about the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards please visit


Important Dates

Deadline for application:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Performance Date and
Award Announcement:
Friday, March 2, 2018

Application Fee:

$30 – General Applicant
$25 – Young Songwriter


Online Application:
submit Create an account and complete the form.
Major credit cards accepted.

Mail-in Application:
Download the PDF application.

Applications must be submitted by Monday, November 6, 2017 to:
Bernard Ebb Songwriting Competition,
c/o Bethesda A & E District
7700 Old Georgetown Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20814.

Questions? Contact Laura Foit at