Songwriters Showdown at Muse Music Cafe


Starting tonight, Muse Music Cafe will host a three-night Showdown in which local songwriters will compete for $100 and an opportunity to record two songs.

Fourteen local musicians are competing in the event. Half of the competitors will perform tonight and the other half Friday, at 8 each night. The top two songwriters will continue on for the main event on Saturday.

The contest features an interesting format. To weed out performers, each songwriter will play one song, then one is eliminated and the process begins all over again until two are left standing. On Saturday night, the top two performers from Thursday and Friday will each play a 30-minute set.

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Muse Music Cafe is the place for a Songwriters Showdown starting Thursday night. Aspiring songwriters can compete for $100 and a record deal.

The Songwriters Showdown happens annually at Muse. Unlike most singing competitions, the actual performance is not solely what judges will be grading on. Rather, it will be graded on a song’s overall quality, focusing on lyrics, melody, chords and song structure. Only harmonizing instruments are allowed, mostly guitars and pianos.

Sam King, 22, from Liberty, Mo., will be one of the competition’s judges. Like the contestants, he writes and performs his own music. He said he is excited to be a part of the competition, and as a judge, he will be looking for songs that are honest and show what the writer was experiencing when writing the song.

“I’m really excited to hear what’s out there and what people are doing,” King said. “I really like breaking it down because I know it’s such a fun process.”

Competitors are mostly college students from BYU and UVU. Some are music majors, while others write and perform their songs as a hobby.

James Huston, 27, from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts. He and Cami Jensen, a student at UVU, comprise a duo called “Cami Lynn” and will compete on Friday night.

“We know there are a lot of talented songwriters in Provo, so it should be a great competition,” Huston said. “We are mostly just nervous and excited about competing in general, as this will be our first time doing so.”

Although competitors are nervous, Muse co-owner Colin Hatch, a senior in the media music program, echoed King, saying unless a song is impossible to understand, the performance will not be graded down.

“It’s all about how the song is actually written: what the lyrics are, how the melody works, those kind of things,” Hatch said.

He said there are many types of music being performed in Provo, and the showdown is a great way to experience it.

“Provo is full of great music,” Hatch said. “Songwriters Showdown is a great way to be exposed to a lot of it … Provo isn’t just folk or Mormon religious pop, Provo’s got some really great rock and alternative stuff to offer as well.”

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