Musicians group announces songwriting contest about Bristol Bay

Aug 24, 2016

Following in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Si Kahn, Musicians United wants to hear everyone's best song about Bristol Bay.

Si Kahn and his group Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay are soliciting songs for a contest. Get out those pens and paper and show your stuff!
Credit KDLG

An advocacy group is holding a songwriting contest with cash prizes to rally more artists to help protect Bristol Bay.

Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay members have written more than a dozen songs about the Bay, and now Coordinator Paul Nagle said the group wants to see what others have to say.

“We’re looking for people to send original songs that tell the story of the bay, or the fight to protect it from the destruction of the proposed Pebble Mine,” Nagle told KDLG News.

Folk singer, activist and organizer Si Kahn put out an album about and dedicated to Bristol Bay in 2013. Then he used his networking know-how to bring more voices in on the cause. Nagle said the group has grown since then.

“Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay is now a network of over 600 musicians who are writing songs, talking to their fans, harnessing the power of music and their networks to tell the story about Bristol Bay and activate people to support it,” Nagle told KDLG News. “When we send out an action alert, they send it to their fans. We can generate a lot of comments to the EPA, whatever it is, the task is at hand.”

Musicians United has support from some well-known musicians, including Pete Seger, who has a video message on the homepage.

He passed away in 2014, but left behind a perhaps unparalleled legacy of using “the power of song,” as PBS titled its documentary about him. In this video message, Seeger gives a quick snapshot of the concerns about building a mine like Pebble in the headwaters of world’s greatest salmon fishery.

“And the whole Bay is threatened now, with the possibility of being wiped out by people who want to put a big copper mine there, open pit copper mine. When they do that, Bristol Bay will be no more.”

Good news for would-be songwriters: neither Seeger, or the experienced Kahn, will be entering the competition. It’s open to professionals and amateurs alike, and all styles of music are welcome. And songs can be written in English or any other tongue.

There are two categories to submit in – one for Alaskans, one for everyone else in the world. They have the same prizes: $1,500 for first prize, $750 for second, $250 for third.

“The quality of recording is not considered in the entry,” Nagle said. “It’s based on lyrics and melody.”

Submissions are electronic, and can be done either by an MP3 upload on the Musicians United website, or with a youtube or vimeo link of the song. There are no entries fees, and artists have from now till the end of the year to get turn in their work. Check the website for more details.