Skyler Foley of Burke is a finalist in songwriting competition at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club on Friday.
There is no formula that lands a musician a place on the Billboard Charts, and some of the most talented, hardworking artists will never find commercial success.
Bethesda’s Carol Bernard took matters into her own hands and founded the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards in 2016 in honor of her uncle, who did mount the long, uphill road of turning music — his passion — into his livelihood.
“My uncle, Fred Ebb, for whom the competition is named, was my inspiration to start the awards program,” Bernard said. “He was an extremely talented songwriter who experienced many struggles before he eventually found success. It’s a competitive industry and it can be difficult to make your voice heard. I wanted to create an award, in his name, that would honor the hardworking, aspiring artists in our region who have so many talents but may not get the recognition they deserve. My hope is that this award will be a helpful stepping stone in their music careers. We’ve seen great talent over the last three years of the competition and are thrilled to promote local songwriters.”
Ebb was the lyricist for a number of songs in Broadway musicals, including “Cabaret” and “Chicago.”
The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District will present year’s Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards after all the finalists perform in a concert on Friday, March 2, at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club.
More than 200 songwriters entered the contest — all residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. — and the six finalists of the regular competition, along with the three Young Songwriters Awards finalists, will perform their original songs for a live audience.
At the end of the show, a panel of judges will determine the winners. The winner receives $10,000 and 25 hours of free studio recording time so that they can “focus on and hone his or her musical talents,” according to the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District. The Youth Songwriter Award winner will receive $2,500.
BURKE RESIDENT Skyler Foley, a sophomore at Lake Braddock Secondary School, is one of the three Young Songwriters finalists.
“I’ve been entering for three years now, but this is my first time as a finalist,” Foley said. “It’s incredible; I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen. I’ve never been a part of anything like this, so it’s really exciting to me.”
Foley has had a knack for music since the first time she heard a beat.
“I first got interested in preschool,” Foley said. “I had this music teacher who called my mom and suggested that she sign me up for music lessons. I took voice, then guitar and piano. The summer after seventh grade, I took a songwriting class and have been writing ever since.”
Foley will be performing two songs on Friday.
“One is called ‘Time Machine,’ about a bad day, but the kind that you know you’re going to be fine the next day. It was the first song I composed on the ukulele. The other song is called ‘Nebulus,’ which is about comforting a friend. It’s a seven-count song, and most songs are four-count, so that was really fun to write.”
Foley’s anticipation of Friday comes in the form of nerves, but mostly excited butterflies.
“This is probably the most important thing I’ve ever performed for, so, while I’m nervous, I’m mostly super excited. I don’t have much stage fright. I perform with a band, so I’ve had to get over it. This concert is all I’ve been thinking over the past week. I don’t know what the future holds for me, so, right now I’m just trying to become as best as I can and explore this passion as much as possible. I’m just looking forward to the show and am so grateful for the opportunity.”