The Unsigned Only Music Competition is pleased to announce its 2019 winners, including ten UK winners honored in this year’s competition. Unsigned Only is open to all artists who are unsigned to a major record label and gives artists exposure, recognition, and validation for their artistry.
A total of 38 winners, including an overall Grand Prize winner and a First and Second Place winner in each category, were selected from almost 6,000 entries from more than 100 countries. An additional group of Honorable Mentions were selected. Over the years Unsigned Only has become an important source for discovering new talent. Since Unsigned Only’s inception in 2012, five Grand Prize winners have been signed to record labels.
The 2019 Grand Prize is awarded to London-based pop artist Anna Wolf for the song “Believer.” Wolf is truly a compelling and rare artist – a hypnotic performer with passion and style, a singer with hauntingly beautiful vocals, and a songwriter with depth and vulnerability. The winning song, “Believer,” is a powerful track, inspired by Wolf’s desire to break the silence about domestic violence and serves as a personal refusal to become the victim of her circumstance.
"I feel such gratitude for this honour,” said Anna Wolf. “The message of ‘Believer” is burnt into every fibre of my being: to let go of expectations, to face my own vulnerabilities and to always keep faith that tomorrow will be the day I get to share my music with the world.”
Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Wolf (formerly known as Tailor) now resides in London. She has had a celebrated career, amassing hit singles, sold-out shows, South African Music Awards nominations, and a legion of dedicated fans. Soon after she moved to London in 2018, she took her guitar to the bathtub and recorded herself performing “Believer” on her cell phone by stomping her feet against the tub. She sent the demo to producer Pete Boxta Martin, (Missy Elliot, Jessie J, Sugababes), and he ended up producing the song. You can still hear some of the noise from the bathtub in the final mix. Apple Music selected the song for four playlists (including Best of the Week, Future Hits, Jump Start and The A-list Alternative) and gave the music video a worldwide release as an exclusive premiere on their platform. More recently, Wolf has released the follow-up single, “Silence,” to acclaimed reviews, dedicating the song to her fellow “wolves.”
“Anna Wolf is such a phenomenal artist,” said UO founders, Candace Avery and Jim Morgan. “She has so much passion and authenticity, and she needs to be heard. She is an artist unafraid to tackle difficult issues and make you feel emotion, and she is one of the most magnetic and inspiring artists Unsigned Only has come across in the history of the competition.”
In addition to winning $20,000 in cash (US) and $40,000 (US) in merchandise and services, Wolf also receives one-on-one mentoring from a group of upper-echelon music industry executives, including: Pete Ganbarg (President of A&R, Atlantic Records); Nick Haussling (Senior VP of A&R, Warner Records); Liz Cohen (A&R, RCA Records); Kim Stephens (President, Forward Entertainment / A&R, Lava Records); David Silbaugh (Talent Buyer, Summerfest); Brinson Strickland (President, Collective Artist Management); and Kristyn Ciani (Talent Buyer, C3 Presents).
In addition to Wolf, nine UK winners are also honored, including CAEZAR who takes home Second Place in the AC (Adult Contemporary) category for the song “Hold On” and Dogtooth for garnering Second Place in the Rock category for the song “Trying To Save You.” Additionally, seven UK artists are awarded an Honorable Mention in their respective categories (see complete list below).
“The UK always produces great independent artists, and this year was no exception,” said UO founders, Candace Avery and Jim Morgan. “We are always on the lookout for artists who create music that is creative, memorable, and enduring. We are proud to honor so many UK artists whose music embodies these traits.”
The complete panel of 2019 judges includes: Aimee Mann; Garth Hudson (The Band); Taj Mahal; Sanctus Real; Bow Wow; Robert Smith (The Cure); The Secret Sisters; Boney James; Gareth Emery; O.A.R.; Janiva Magness; Fred Hersch; Francesca Battistelli; Frank Foster; Aaron Shust; Toots Hibbert (Toots and the Maytals); Ruthie Foster; Tinariwen; Craig Campbell; JD McPherson; Carter Burwell; Zbigniew Preisner; Russ Landau; Josh Jackson (Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Paste Magazine); Anthony Decurtis (Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone); Mac Randall (Editor, JazzTimes); Marcos Juarez (Head of Latin Music, Pandora); David Sikorski (Senior Editor, EARMILK Media INC.); Lyndsey Parker (Managing Editor, Yahoo Music); Kevin McNeese (President, NewReleaseToday); Art Tipaldi (Editor, Blues Music Magazine); Nigel J. Farmer (Editor-In-Chief, Jazz In Europe); John Dibiase (President, Jesus Freak Hideout); David Silbaugh (Talent Buyer, Summerfest); Angel Romero (Founder / Sr. Editor, World Music Central); Brandon Chitwood (Assistant Director, EDM Joy); Enrique Santos (Chairman / Chief Creative Officer, iHeart Latino); Chad Jensen (Artist Manager, Jensen Artist Management); Brinson Strickland (President, Collective Music Nashville); Deborah Klein (JV Partner and Artist Manager, Primary Wave Entertainment); Kristyn Ciani (Talent Buyer, C3 Presents / Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Shaky Knees); Evan Stein (Owner, Experience Music Group); James Kempner (Owner, JMK Connections); Jennifer Taunton (Music Supervisor, Level Two Music); Jessica Cole (Founder / President, Lyric House); and Sheryl Louis (Artist Manager, CSM Management).
Unsigned Only is sponsored by Celebrity Access; Eventric; Hybrid Studios; Lurssen Mastering; Merch Cat; Musicians Institute; Musician Wellness; Pro Tour Nutrition; Radio Airplay; Shubb Capos; Symphonic Distribution; The Music Business Registry; and Vocal Eze.
Unsigned Only is now accepting entries for the 2020 competition. More information can be found at www.unsignedonly.com
. The complete list of UK winners is as follows:
Anna Wolf (London, England and Pretoria, South Africa) – “Believer”
CAEZAR (Gloucester, GLR, England) – “Hold On” – AC (Adult Contemporary)
Dogtooth (Glasgow, Scotland) – “XO Girl” – R&B/Hip-Hop
Charlie Grant (Dyson (Totnes, DVN, England) – “Love Letters” – AAA (Adult Album Alternative)
Dyson (England) – “Tomorrow” – Pop/Top 40
Ghosts Of Social Networks (Manchester, England) – “Don't Let Me Down”
More Than Ruins ((Totnes, DVN, England)) – “Black Lines” – AAA (Adult Album Alternative)
Paris Street Rebels (Ballingry, Fife, Scotland) – “I Don't Wanna Die Young” – Rock
Siah (London, England) – “Teasin” – R&B/Hip-Hop
Young Brando (Salisbury, WLT, England) – “Lion's Den” – AC (Adult Contemporary)