Nashville Songwriting Scholarship Renamed in Honor of Dolly Parton

by Jim Casey
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(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW)

The BMI Foundation announced that its annual Nashville Songwriting Scholarship will be renamed the Dolly Parton Songwriters Award. Of course, named after the Country Music Hall of Fame icon, the Dolly Parton Songwriters Award will be an annual, nationwide competition open to aspiring songwriters. BMI created the initial award in 2015.

Additionally, the new program will establish The Dolly Parton Music Fund. The fund will underwrite the annual awards to emerging songwriters, as well as initiatives to provide or supplement music programs in public schools. Awardees can use the fund as a career grant for study, instrument purchase, recording costs, or other professional expenses.

Founding endowments include a lead gift from Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston, as well as a contribution from Luke Combs.

Luke donated proceeds from his recent BMI Parking Lot Party that celebrated nine of his No. 1 singles.

“I know how personal and important songwriting is to those that have the talent. And to all the others that enjoy those that have it,” said Dolly. “I’m proud to be part of a program that will help support songwriting in any way possible. Thanks to Sony Music Publishing, Luke Combs, and all the others that feel the same way and want to help support it. I have been with BMI since I published my first song as a child. So of course I’m very proud and honored to have a BMI Songwriters Award made in my honor.”

The Dolly Parton Music Fund

The revised program offers $20,000 for up to two of the best original song entries in any of the following genres: Americana, blues, bluegrass, contemporary Christian, country, folk, and roots.

Judges for previous competitions have included Kacey Musgraves, Rodney Clawson, and Mark Brown, among others. BMI will present the inaugural award in Spring 2023, with applications opening in October.

“The Dolly Parton Music Fund will support the work of the BMI Foundation for years to come and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our nation’s emerging songwriters,” said Clay Bradley, BMI VP. “We are excited to be working with Dolly Parton on this program, not only honoring her legacy as a songwriter, but her unwavering commitment to fostering new talent, music education, and music appreciation.”

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