You may know her from The Table or from her years working in Serving and Outreach, but when she’s not at Christ Church, you may find her sharing her own original songs in the city and beyond. Abbye West Pates, soon-to-be the new worship leader at The Table, is a singer-songwriter and recently took home first place in the Rose Garden Coffeehouse’s 25th Annual Performing Songwriter’s Competition in Mansfield, Mass. We wanted to celebrate her music and work, so we asked a few questions about the competition and what’s coming up next for her.

How did you hear about this songwriting competition?
The Boston area has a significant folk scene, and since my music is in the folk/Americana genre, I follow several artists in the area. I found this venue through an artist I love and just decided to enter and see what happened! I definitely jumped up and down when I got the phone call that I was a finalist invited to perform in the competition.

Why enter a songwriting competition in the first place?
I’m not just a performer; I’m a songwriter, so I want to be the best I can be at songwriting. The judges for this competition are connected to either local venues in the area or other helpful networks, so I knew it would be good for me to get in front of them. It’s also just an encouragement to be chosen as the winner; it lets me know I’m growing and headed in the right direction.

The event is a “performing songwriter’s competition.” What exactly does that mean?
It means that this competition was not only judged by the quality of the song itself but also by the performance of the song. We were told before the performance that we would also be judged on how we interacted with the listeners, delivery of the song, etc.

Why did you go all the way to Massachusetts for a songwriting competition?
It seems that some regions support certain genres of music better than others. In my limited experience, I’ve found that New England really has a strong folk/Americana and singer-songwriter network. I’m finding it helpful to build networks there as well as here in the Mid-South.

Since you won the competition, what is the prize?
With winning the competition, I am awarded a spot to play at the Rose Garden Coffeehouse again. I’m scheduled to play there in February 2018. Obviously, that’s a long way to go, so I’ll schedule a few more shows in the Boston area on either side of my show at Rose Garden.

What’s next for you in your songwriting/music career?
I am digging deeper into songwriting, both the writing and the “getting it out there” part. I’ll likely enter more competitions and, additionally, try to get booked for a spot in a songwriter’s showcase at music festivals and other similar events. I’m also in the early stages of thinking about my next album and considering releasing a few singles in 2018.

Watch the video below to see Abbye performing in the competition:

Visit her website at abbyewestpates.com to hear more of her music and see her upcoming shows!

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