Stephen Yarbrough wins three JPF nominations

Stephen Yarbrough wins three JPF nominations Grassroots Music Organization Just Plain Folks (JPF) has announced their nominees for the 2009 edition of their music awards. After receiving a record setting 42,000 albums and over a half million songs from 163 countries around the world, the organization's staff and team of volunteers filtered the music down to both song and album nominees in 95 genres of music. This years nominees come from over 80 different countries around the world.  USD Composer In Residence Stephen Yarbrough won three nominations:  one for his  Alleluias for Orchestra as Best Classical Contemporary Album of the year; two for Best Classical Contemporary Song of the year, Alleluias for Orchestra and After School. It all started as a friendly effort to recognize some independent artists who made great music which had been overlooked by the mainstream media. Organization founder Brian Austin Whitney quickly realized there was a big empty gap and need in the world of music to recognize more than just the top commercial sellers.  "We were getting amazing albums from unknown musicians and composers that screamed out for attention. Whereas larger televised awards are well suited to recognize music's most popular and commercially successful recordings, we felt we could fill the need to recognize the music made by the other 98 percent of the world," he said. Whitney added, "all the music that is judged is actually listened to in each round.  Most awards, including the most famous, simply hand out a list of names and say 'vote' so it's based more on fame and name recognition than it is on their actual music." The organization spent 14 months from the initial entry date to screen all the music and narrow down the field. JPF uses a unique mix of judges that come from the music industry, fellow artist and songwriter peers and music fans. "We feel that those groups mixed together make for a balanced and compelling process which identifies a lot of music that any one group might miss," said Linda Berger, the group's project director. Smaller genres are treated with the same respect as their large mainstream counterparts and often new trends in music show up long before the mainstream music industry notices. "We've also found some amazing talent years before a wider audience catches on," said Berger. "It's really gratifying finding new talent, but we also love it when we can recognize established artists who are still making music that moves us even if they don't lead the current day commercial marketplace." So what is the criterion for judging all this music?  "One simple question: Does the music move you?" Whitney said.  "I was an active musician, songwriter and most importantly music lover myself before starting this and when I went to write the instructions for our first awards process back in 1998, it occurred to me that people often use strict and rigid measuring sticks to judge music.  That seemed unnatural to me.  People listen to and love music that moves them.  It doesn't matter if it was recorded by a world class superstar in a million dollar studio or by an unknown songwriter with a laptop and a microphone in their bedroom. "There are no actual rules for why music moves people and you can't build a formula around it though industry always tries. It either moves people or it doesn't. Our awards process focuses on finding music that moves people collectively from all walks of life," Whitney said. "What better way to motivate these great artists and writers to do more great work than to recognize their music not for how many units they sold or who they are dating on the Hollywood hot-list, but for how it can bring a tear, cause a giggle, make someone's jaw drop open, get them dancing out of their seats or simply make someone feel connected with the universe. We've found music from around the world that does all those things. We're just happy to share it with the world through our awards and give these creators a sincere nudge of support." The 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards show will take place in Nashville, TN on Aug. 29,  at the Wildhorse Saloon. Winners will be announced live at the show and then posted on the Web site the next day. For a complete listing of this year's nominees and more information, please visit

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