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Volume 24, Number 5 — May 2017

Music Teacher wins Songwriting Contests

Mary Munsey performs with Tennessee Green.
Mary Munsey performs with Tennessee Green.

August 05, 2010

ABINGDON, VA — Musician/songwriter Mary Munsey plays saxophone, guitar and keyboard. She is best known for singing with her variety group, Tennessee Green. As a hobby, she has written and performed folk music for many years. This summer she was honored with two awards for her songwriting.

She performed a set of her own original music at the 2010 International Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Oklahoma after winning the festival's Songwriting Contest with "Nine Days Old." The song is about the journey of life and the way that many people feel as they go through various stages of life. Munsay says, "The song began with some new kittens I adopted when they were just nine days old. It evolved into the children I teach who are nine years old, and then how I felt invincible at age 20, and then as life moved along various stages."

In addition, Munsey's song "The Whisper" was one of the finalists in the Songwriting Contest at the 2010 Gathering in the Gap Music Festival in Richlands, Va. The contest represents the spirit and traditions of Appalachian culture.Its focus is to showcase outstanding, but under-recognized, performing songwriters.Songs submitted for the contest included genres that have roots in Appalachian culture: Old-time, Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Blues, or Rockabilly. Entries were judged by a panel of music industry professionals. Originally, 10 finalists were to be chosen to compete on the main stage at the Gathering in the Gap. However, due to the overwhelming response, the panel chose 15 finalists to perform their songs on the day of the festival.

A teacher at Watauga Elementary School in Abingdon, Va., Munsey previously was recognized by the International Bluegrass Association for her use of bluegrass in her curriculum. She earned a BA in Choral Music Education from Emory & Henry College. She is currently the accompanist and assistant choir director at Abingdon High School and plays the piano at her church on Sunday mornings.