The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship

The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship is a $2,000 award to a student planning to study songwriting at the college level. Applicants are not required to have a declared major in songwriting, but they must already have demonstrated skills as a songwriter and plan to further their study of the art on a higher education level. Applicants must be current IBMA members. (

Rick and Wendy Lang (pictured at left), initiated the scholarship in 2020 and made a donation to permanently endow it in 2022. Lang is a GRAMMY-nominated writer who serves as the chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee and volunteers with the IBMA Songwriter Mentor Program.

“Our goal with the scholarship is to help our youth be able to afford to futher  their educations in the music field and realize their dreams,” the Langs said. “Young people are the future of bluegrass music, and we are glad to be able to help them along their journey! We are beyond excited about finally endowing the scholarship. This means it will perpetuate and be available to students each and every year.”

The endow fund is held at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in Nashville, TN, which invests and administers more than $500 million in charitable funds. The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Endowment Fund will distribute annual income to the IBMA Foundation to use in funding one or more Rick Lang Music Songwriter college scholarships each year and for expenses of administering that scholarship program.

Gifts to support this endowed scholarship are welcome from additional individuals, organizations and corporations interested in supporting the future of bluegrass songwriting.

Go here to apply for the scholarship. Deadline: June 1, for an annual spring semester scholarship.

2020 Recipient

The first recipient of the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship is Heather Alley (right), a student at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. 

2021 Recipient

Jessica Lang (no relation to Rick Lang), is a sophomore at Belmont University originally from Wake Forest, North Carolina.  A talented lead guitarist as well as a singer-songwriter, Jessica plans to study both publishing and music, and will continue to perform with the college bluegrass ensemble. She is a part of Belmont University’s honors program and is scheduled to study abroad in Belfast, Ireland, in 2022, where she will be immersed in traditional folk and Celtic music and begin work on her honors thesis project.

Beginning with the guitar at age nine, Lang participated in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, as well as educational opportunities hosted by PineCone in Raleigh. Lang joined the IBMA Kids on Bluegrass program in 2016, was a part of the IBMA Songwriter Showcase in 2019, and has recorded with both the Lang Sisters and the Carolina PineCones.

After Belmont, Jessica hopes to pursue graduate studies, possibly in ethnomusicology or music therapy. She was a Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship recipient in 2020. 

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