A local folk-rock trio has won the first-ever Americana Music Fest Contest sponsored by the Tallahassee-Leon Council on Culture and Arts. Thousands of voters chose the Sarah Mac Band to receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a music industry conference in Nashville.
On Thursday, lead singer Sarah Mac played the song “Baptised,” off the group’s forthcoming album, for supporters at the cultural council office.
“We definitely wanted to win this contest. But I don’t think until I got here and I heard everybody talking and I saw all of the faces to go behind the support to make this happen, that I realized how much I wanted it," she said. "And it’s just so refreshing and encouraging to have people behind what we’re doing.”
More than 22,000 votes were cast in the contest, which included 13 musical acts from the Tallahassee area. The Sarah Mac Band has been playing together since 2000 and formally touring since 2005. Mac says their new album was produced with advance donations from fans.
“I think it’s an expression of our hearts, but it’s also an expression of the community that we came out of, and it’s a community that we’re really proud to be a part of and really proud to be representing," she says.
As their prize for winning the contest, Mac and bandmates Charlie Vanture and Claire Swindell will travel to Nashville’s Americana Music Fest and Conference next month. There, they’ll get to meet with music industry insiders and attend workshops.
The council that sponsored the contest, nicknamed COCA, is appointed by city and county governments to develop and support the arts. Leon County Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi says, he hopes to see the Americana Music Contest continue every year.
“I love to promote business. And I also love to promote the arts. Oftentimes, people think those two things are different, and they are not," he says. "But, for these people to make their livings, we have to promote them like any other businesses.”
Sarah Mac Band’s album, “Static and Signals,” comes out on Sept. 4, with a free release party and concert on Sept. 7 at Element 3 Church on Mahan Drive in Tallahassee.