IAMA Banner

You are here

Songwriter Showcase

Breast Cancer RibbonSusanne Millsaps
Performing Songwriter Showcase



Come one, come all – it’s the annual Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase.  Previous finalists have called it “a complete honor”, “a total blast”, and “the best songwriting contest around.”  We’re welcoming entries from solo singer-songwriters (sorry, no duos, trios, etc.) performing their own original music.  Finalists will be selected by a blind judging panel, with scoring based on vocal ability, instrumental ability, and songwriting.  Last year’s winner was Kray Van Kirk from Alaska.   The deadline for submissions is May 3rd.  The top ten finalist will compete at the Showcase on Saturday June 27th, at The Utah Arts Festival.  The winner will be pesented with a composite Rainsong Guitar and will open that evening on The Festial Stage for the folk icon John Gorka! Once payment has been received through eventbrite you can submit your songs to smshowcase@iamaweb.org

  The cost is $40.00 for two songs.  You can register by going to eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/susanne-millsaps-performing-songwriter-showcase-tickets-15661730658


Our top 10 finalists for the 2014 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase.  Each of our chosen finalists showed excellence in the categories of writing, vocal and instrumentation. We received entries from multiple states last year!   Eight of these ten finalists are currently living in Utah.  Kray Van Kirk (a 2nd time finalist  from 2012) comes all the way from Alaska.  Kelly Brightwell Hagee is a Minnesota native, now living in Portland.  

2014 Finalists (Listed in alphabetical order by last name.)  

  • Bob Bland, Utah
  • John Thomas (JT) Draper, Utah
  • Paul Fritzler, Utah
  • Kelly Brightwell Hagee, Oregon/Minnesota
  • Julia Lelis, Utah
  • Bill McGinnis, Utah
  • Misty River, Utah
  • Nathan Spenser, Utah
  • Jim (Fish) Svendsen, Utah/Arkansas
  • Kray Van Kirk, Alaska 

We are grateful to all of the songwriters who entered the contest last year.  It was a very strong field of talented contestants and all artists should be commended for their gift of songwriting.  

This prestigious contest began in 1996 with KRCL. It was held in conjunction with the Founders Title Company Folk and Bluegrass festival for many years and later became part of the Snowbird Mountain Music Festival.   We are grateful to have the contest back under the IAMA umbrella and appreciate their most gracious support for its continuance.  A special thank you goes out to long time sponsors, Dave and Sue MacFarlane for their continued financial support.   

The showcase was proudly re-named after Susanne Millaps who passed away from Breast Cancer in the fall of 2006.   Susanne gave tirelessly back to songwriters in a multitude of ways to make sure their words and music were heard and appreciated; sharing their music on her radio show, running the showcase for many years, managing some artists directly, and providing performance spaces for artists at Folk Alliance International and Folk Alliance Regional – West. Susanne will be forever missed!  

We invite the public to come and watch the 2015 Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase on Saturday, June 27th at the Utah Arts Festival, Big Mouth Stage from 12:00 – 2:45pm.  Our first place winner will receive a beautiful new RainSong Carbon Fiber guitar (which retails for $1950) – compliments of RainSong Guitars, IAMA and MacNichol Guitars in addition to a main stage performance on the Big Mouth Stage at 8:30pm just prior to headlining artist, John Gorka.  Our 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive valuable cash prizes. 

The Intermountain Acoustic Music Association, the Utah Arts Festival and Dave and Sue MacFarlane have all supported this contest.  Each contest entrant has also contributed. 

If you (or someone you know) is a songwriter, please consider taking part in the 8th Annual IAMA Songwriter Academy, which is also being held in conjunction with the Utah Arts Festival at the Salt Lake Library on June 25-28.  Details are posted elsewhere on the IAMA website and on Facebook!    

See you all on June 27th!   (IAMA Members get free Festival admission that day with their membership card - JOIN NOW)



Suzanne MillsapsHistory:

The original showcase started in back 1996 with Salt Lake's Community Radio Station KRCL, 90.9FM. The contest was soon being facilitated by one KRCL's longest-ever volunteer hosts, Susanne Millsaps who was noted for her Thursday morning show on KRCL. 

Susanne eventually organized the songwriter showcase under the annual IAMA - Founders Title Co. Folk and Bluegrass Festival which was held at Deer Valley for many years and then at Snowbird Resort from 2004 until 2011. 

Susanne Millsaps passed away in the fall of 2006 from breast cancer. The contest was proudly renamed after her just following her passing as a tribute to her years of dedication to music and songwriters. She will be forever missed!  She gave tirelessly back to songwriters in a multitude of ways to make sure their words and music were heard and appreciated; sharing their music on her radio show, running the showcase, promoting and managing some directly, and providing performance spaces at FAI and FAR-West.

Susanne  was a regular at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, as well as attending the Folk Alliance International conference and many of the regional FA conferences, and she was a board member for FAR-West and IAMA for multiple years. You could always find her sitting quietly at various song circles listening and enjoying the beautiful voices and lyrics.  She and her husband Grant Hogarth started Magpie House Concerts which was the first modern house concert series in Salt Lake City, and which has spun off several other house concert series along the Wasatch Front.  Magpie House Concerts is still going strong today thanks to Grant and his wife Laurel, who also took over running the showcase after Susanne's death.  

IAMA is happy to have the showcase back under the association's umbrella once again and we look forward to continuing the showcase in future years in our new location at the Gallivan Center.   

Past winners from 1996-present include:  Gretchen Peters, Carla Eskelsen, Joel Cage, Jen Adams, Jim Gilmour, Jean Synodinos, Jaime Michaels, Michael Troy, Amy Speace, Neal Bradley Owen, Danny Donnelly, Kort McCumber, TR Ritchie, Russ Chapman, Peter Danzig, Chris Orrock and Rob Harmon.  Many of these artists have gone on to achieve brilliant careers in music.  

Other "Name" Performers who have been finalists in our contest include:   Sarah Sample, Christopher Williams, Marv Hamilton, Holly Figueroa, Dan Hazlett, Dave Crossland, Pat O'Kelly,  Dan Pelletier, Anke Summerhill, Kate McLeod, Sally Shuffield, Justin Roth, Shaney McCoy, Juliet Wyers, Karen Mal, Lee Penn Sky, Ryan Mintz, Dana Hubbard, Jen Hajj, Mary McAdams, Jill Jack, Steve Brooks, Holly O'Reilly, Stacy Board, Dave Eskelsen and Blake Guthrie. Please spread the word about this contest to your songwriting friends. 

We would also welcome anyone at our annual Songwriter Academy (formerly known as the Snowbird Song School, which started in 2008).  This event will now take place in conjunction with Utah Arts Festival on an annual basis.    Please see www.iamaweb.org for details.  The cost is minimal for such an extensive weekend of workshops and networking with a tremendous group of national touring songwriter instructors at the helm!  

Please feel free to contact our coordinator with any questions regarding the Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase or the IAMA Songwriter Academy:

Guy Benson  
Coordinator , ( Susanne Millsaps Performing Songwriter Showcase
and the  IAMA Songwriter Academy)


ZAP Logo
IAMA on Facebook
Brewin' Bistro
IAMA on Now Playing Utah