Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards

Rochelle Rice performing on stage with Mark Meadows on the piano
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It's about the words and music.

The below information is from 2023/2024 and is preserved below for informational purposes only. Please check back later for 2024/2025 application and performance information. Stay tuned!

The Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards honors the best songwriters in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

The contest will award one songwriter a grand prize of $10,000, 25 hours of recording studio time, and 2 hours of music business strategy consulting.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the second-place winner ($2,500) and to all other finalists ($1,000). All finalists will receive features on Strathmore's social media platforms. 

A young songwriter who is 17 or younger will also be honored with an award of $2,500. All other youth finalists will receive a cash prize of $500.

Now in its eighth year, the competition will be presented by Strathmore for the first time, and the final performance will take place at the Music Center at Strathmore on April 12, 2024. 

Application Procedures & Information

Application Form

About the Competition  

The Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards are presented annually, honoring the best adult and youth songwriters in the region through a multi-level adjudication process, culminating in a live performance featuring the nominated songs.

The competition, founded by Cathy Bernard, is named in honor of her uncle Fred Ebb, a great American songwriter and creator of Broadway hits such as Cabaretand Chicagoas well as iconic songs including "New York, New York."

Learn More

2023/24 Winners

Eryn Michel

Adult Category

Eryn Michel

Maryland songwriter Eryn Michel has been writing folk, Americana, and country songs since the late 20th century. After serving in Iraq, Eryn earned a political science degree from UCLA and worked in the Obama White House before turning to music and motherhood to restore her soul. Since overcoming stage fright and debuting at an open mic at age 32, Eryn has opened for folk legend David Buskin and performed at Nashville’s Bluebird Café. As a dedicated songwriter, she won American Songwriter Magazine's Fall 2023 Lyric Contest and enjoys the collaborative process of co-writing music. Eryn is also studying vocal habitation and music therapy, with a special interest in palliative care, justice-affected populations, and veterans.   

Explore Past Winners (Adult Category)
Sarah Baumgarten

Youth Category

Sarah Baumgarten

Sarah Mariel Baumgarten, also known as Mariel, is a 17-year-old folk-rock singer-songwriter from Arlington, Virginia. With a passion for creating intricate narratives, her songs often intertwine, featuring lifelike characters and complex stories of fantastical adventures. She typically performs on acoustic guitar and draws inspiration from a diverse range of artists, such as The Oh Hellos, Radical Face, Ella Fitzgerald, Jacob Collier, and Fiona Apple. A songwriter since the third grade, Mariel was a finalist in the 2018 Bernard/Ebb competition and had the honor of opening for Audra MacDonald at The Hamilton the same year. Last summer, she received the prestigious Maddy Award at Interlochen Arts Camp. Mariel regularly plays solo shows in Arlington and DC, while also balancing AP Chemistry homework, singing in jazz combo at school, and petting her cat, Lyric. 

Explore Past Winners (Youth Category)

Strathmore extends its deepest gratitude to Cathy, Alex, and Amanda Bernard for their unwavering dedication to our region’s talented songwriters and for generously investing in this meaningful event.

Strathmore is grateful for Innovation Station Music for its support of this program.