Recording an EP with the Grammy Award-winner is the top prize in Guitar Center's 3rd Annual Search for the Best Singer-Songwriter in America. You'll also get $25,000 in cash along with a whole slew of musical gear from some of the top industry sponsors.
You can enter now through Nov. 3 by submitting an original live music performance at guitarcenter.com/songwriter. Those performances will be ranked by RevImage, a social media platform that gauges web viewership. The top 140 artists ranked on fan growth will be viewed by Was, who will hand-pick the top 10 to perform live in Los Angeles where the winner will be chosen.
Born Don Fagenson, Was first gained notoriety as a member of the '80s combo Was (Not Was), best known for the 1987 top 10 hit "Walk the Dinosaur." He says serving as a judge in the contest appealed to him because he still remembers his early days as a struggling musician in Detroit. "It just seems like yesterday that I was going to shows and handing out my demos to anyone I'd meet," Was says. "Like I remember cornering [Sex Pistols singer] Johnny Rotten. I don't know what I was thinking, not that there's anything wrong with Johnny Rotten. You just don't know where to turn, don't know what to do."
As Was sees it, a contest like the Guitar Center's Singer-Songwriter Search, levels the playing field for those who may not live in music hotspots such as Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville. "There might be someone out in the middle of the country, who is feeling a little isolated. This gives them the ability to break through and that's a really great thing to offer," he adds. "I would have appreciated that when I was struggling."
So what is Was looking for in new talent? "The same thing I look for in established artists, which is you look for someone to touch you deep inside," he says. "I read this great interview with Bob Dylan about six months ago where he said, 'My job isn't to tell people how I feel, it's to put people in touch with their own feelings.' And that was the best encapsulation of the role of an artist that I've ever heard anyone articulate."
Was continues, "Just make me feeling something. That's what I would ask of any artist I work with. I don't care about technique on the guitar, I don't care about things you can do with your voice. I don't really care about pitch, which seems to be so important on TV competitions. I really just care about something real, something emotional, and something that speaks to me and others on a very deep level."
If you think you've got the goods, upload your performance guitarcenter.com/songwriter. Who knows, you might end up working in the studio with Don Was.
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- Bob Dylan
- Johnny Rotten