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Don Gibson Theatre's Singer/ Songwriter Symposium starts April 1

The 2023 Don Gibson Singer/Songwriter Symposium begins Friday, March 31 with a "Writers in the Round" night with Cherryville, N.C.'s "Sweethearts of Bluegrass", Darin & Brooke Aldridge, who are also a couple of the judges for the Saturday, April 1, songwriter competition, said Stan Lowery, Executive Director for the theatre.

While the time limit on sending in songs and entering the actual competition actually ended a week before the competition date (April 1), Lowery noted the competition is open to the general public, with tickets for both days being $10 (general admission).

According to the Theatre's web site, the contestants paid a $25 registration fee, and had to include or otherwise send a lyric sheet, along with either an .mp3, .wav, DVD, CD or youTube link of the writer/performer singing their original song. It is stressed the vocals are to be "...out front to allow the judges to hear the lyrics." Age requirements, stated the web site, are that registrants are to 13 years or older; that one accompanist can come but that the songwriter "...must sing their own original composition." There is to be no recorded music, special effects, but amplified acoustic instruments with an EQ are allowed. Said allowed instruments must be carried to the onstage mics, said Mr. Lowery, who added a piano is provided. There will be only 12 finalists in this competition, he added.

The Theatre's web site also set forth the judging criteria, which is as follows: "Composition Quality (depth, insight, cleverness, creativity) - 45 percent; Vocal Quality (pitch, tone, projection) - 20 percent; Overall creativity, difficulty - 15 percent; Showmanship/Delivery (personality, charisma, connection with audience) - 15 percent; and Audience response - 5 percent."

The winner receives the Don Gibson American Music Foundation Award, a $1,000 cash prize, and an opportunity to open a future show at the Don Gibson Theatre, noted Mr. Lowery.

Second place is awarded a $400 cash prize and Third place is awarded a $200 cash prize, as per the web site's information about the competition. There is a "Sing Along" prior to competition which will be held on the Don Gibson Theatre's main stage.

Part of the competition, noted Lowery, is that finalists will play their own original song and one pre-approved Don Gibson song at the event. Judging is based on the performer's original song, with a maximum time limit of 5 minutes per song.

As per the web site, the pre-approved Don Gibson song must be chosen from the list of Don Gibson Songs on Singer Songwriter Symposium home page 15. The 12 finalists will be notified after the preliminary round (time to be announced.) Finalists must be able to perform at final competition to be eligible for the prize.


According to the DGT web site, "The Don Gibson Theatre is a 400-seat venue located in Uptown Shelby and is a very intimate concert hall. Formerly the State Theatre, an Art Deco gem, it opened its doors as the area's most beautifully appointed movie house on Oct. 27, 1939. The State was a typically popular and romanticized small town movie theatre, but in its later years (as 'The Flick') it encountered the same challenges that befell literally thousands of such film houses. Retail anchor stores moved to the malls along the highway... downtowns dried up and sometimes blew away... cable TV became a more and more dominant force in our lives..."

That said, Lowery said for those interested in good music, local history, and great fun, "...this is your opportunity to see the best touring nationally known acts, musicians who've graced magazine covers, earned Grammy Awards and Gold Albums and 'Best of the Year' Awards... people whose CD's (and albums) you may already have in your collection."

For more information, Lowery said to visit their web site at DonGibsonTheatre.com, or come by and visit them at 318 South Washington St., Shelby, NC (closed on Mondays). You can also call them at (704) 487-8114.

Lowery himself can be reached by email at GibsonTheatreExec@gmail.com.

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