The third 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. 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. Finalists will be invited to perform their songs on March 3, 2017.


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 3, 2017 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

  • Steve Bogard, Nashville-based songwriter and former Nashville Songwriter’s Association International Board President who has received two Grammy nominations for Best Country Song with Dierks Bentley, wrote nine number one country songs and hits for artists including George Strait, Rascall Flatts, Reba, Patty Loveless, Etta James and others.
  • Scarlet Keys, songwriter and Professor in Berklee College of Music’s Songwriting Department who has collaborated with artists including Chris Stapleton, Charlie Puth, Melissa Ferrick and Gretchen Wilson. She has had songs featured in movies and television as well as recordings by award-winning artists spanning genres from jazz, country, Americana, folk and pop.
  • Stacey Luftig, musical theater lyricist and winner of the 2015 Fred Ebb Award for excellence in musical theater songwriting and the 2016 Kleban Prize for most promising theater lyricist of musicals. Her lyrics are featured in My Heart Is the Drum, The Tooth Fairy Versus El Ratón Pérez, Understood Betsy and That’s Life.

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 4, 1998.

Applicants must be available to perform their original songs for a live audience in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday, March 3, 2017.

*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 2015 and 2016 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

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