Selected Songwriters

Bernard/Ebb 2017 Songwriting Awards Finalists

Luke Brindley (Folk/Acoustic), Reston, VA 
Luke Brindley, originally from New Jersey, relocated to Northern Virginia in 2001, and with his two brothers, Daniel and Jonathan, took over the music club Jammin Java in Vienna, VA. Growing up in a musical household, he loved the guitar and the art of songwriting from a young age. His goal is to offer a deeper perspective through music. Luke has toured extensively and released a handful of critically acclaimed records. His most recent album, “Invitation To Joy,” a 12-song album of fingerstyle guitar instrumentals, was released in 2016 and features David Mansfield on mandolin and fiddle. In addition to managing the marketing and outreach for Jammin Java and raising a young family, Luke is writing a new solo record and another fingerstyle guitar record.  
Ruut DeMeo (Adult Contemporary), Phoenix, MD
Originally from Finland, Ruut DeMeo began playing piano by ear and composing songs when she was eight years old. Before settling in Baltimore, MD at age 16, she traveled Europe with her family and had the opportunity to perform for thousands. Her music endeavors continued to grow and she received a record deal in Nashville when she was 21. Over the years, Ruut has shared the stage with acts including, Passenger, Hem, Brett Dennen and Kat Edmondson. Her recent fan-funded album, “Untold Stories” was released in 2016, and her new children’s music and book project, “Frankie Finn and the Magic Eye” will be released in February 2017.

Peter Garza with Band of Us (Rock/Alternative), Silver Spring, MD 
Performing with Kyle Alexander, David Byass, Myles Gilbertson, Marcus Jackson, Brandon Watts 
Peter Garza has been writing songs and playing the piano since age 16. Since then, music has become an obsession and a positive outlet to share his own words. In 2015, as an avenue to explore and further his musical ideas, Peter, on lead vocals and keyboard, formed the Peter Michael Band. Now called Band Of Us, the group has continued to build on its success and in 2016 played at numerous venues throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area, both opening and headlining shows. Peter and the band view their music as a way to share a little light and love with everyone.

Lea Morris (Folk/Acoustic, Soul), Alexandria, VA
Performing with Mosno Al-Moseeki, Will Henderson, Brian Simms, Avril Smith
Lea Morris’ musical endeavors began at an early age. She was surrounded by a musical family and grew-up singing a cappella harmonies with the Jones Family Gospel Singers. She discovered the acoustic guitar when she was 13 and through writing songs, taught herself how to play. Lea has shared the stage with legends like Odetta and Mavis Staples, as well as, modern troubadours like Dar Williams and Anthony Hamilton. She was a Strathmore Artist in Residence and has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Birchmere and Wolf Trap, as well as at venues throughout Europe. 
Be Steadwell (Pop), Washington, D.C.
Performing with Sandy James, Asha Santee, Katherine Steadwell, Ziggy Wedderburn, Talyn Wise
With roots in jazz, acapella and folk, Be Steadwell creates music that features earnest lyricism, proud LGBTQ content, unapologetic silliness and the art of the simple love song. She uses loop pedal vocal layering and beat boxing to compose her songs during live performances. In 2016, Be was named a Strathmore Artist in Residence and was also awarded an artist fellowship from The DC Commission on the Arts. In addition to performing and creating self-produced albums, she also works in film and completed a Master’s of Fine Arts in Film from Howard University in 2014.

YoungSongwriting Awards Finalists

Calista Garcia (Pop), Arlington, VA
Sixteen-year-old, singer-songwriter Calista Garcia, plays guitar, piano, mandolin, ukulele, bass and harmonica. The young composer and performer was named one of "Arlington's Hottest Musicians" by Arlington Magazine in 2015. Calista composed the soundtrack for the original musical, “Lizzy Strata,” and has performed over 100 gigs at venues including the 9:30 Club, The Fillmore and Nashville’s Blue Bird Café. In November 2016, she performed at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters for their first “Spotlight Performance.” Her all-girl rock band, The Diamond Dolls, were two-time winners of Bach to Rock’s Battle of the Bands. Calista is a sophomore at H-B Woodlawn. 

Matthew Hemmer (Pop/Electric), Bethesda, MD
Seventeen-year-old Matthew Hemmer has been playing the piano since age six and the viola since age ten. Since his early years of music, he has expanded his skill-set to include the drums and ukulele. He began focusing on his songwriting when he started high school and now produces and engineers his own recordings. Matthew is senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and interns at Asparagus Media Studios in Takoma Park. He looks forward to attending Berklee College of Music next year.
Eli Pafumi (Folk/Acoustic), Sterling, VA
Performing with Kathryn Allen
Seventeen-year-old Eli Pafumi began writing and playing music more than ten years ago. He has since won several talent competitions including, Bring It! 2014 and the Loudoun Youth Fest Battle of the Bands and in February 2016, released his debut EP, “Finding North.” Eli has opened for bands such as, We The Kings, Grace and Tony, Native Run and Casey Abrams. In addition to songwriting and performing, he also composes and writes for theatre. His first fully scored musical, “The Magi,” premiered at The Hub Theatre in December 2016. Eli is a senior at Dominion High School and will attend Berklee College of Music in the fall. He is returning to the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards for the third year.