Benjamin Mays

Benjamin Mays won last year’s Lyrics on the Lake open mic competition.

When Lyrics on the Lake’s annual open mic competition returns May 8 at Mango’s Bar & Grill at Bridgewater Plaza, area songwriters and performers will be required to register in advance.

Now in its third year, the weekly contest has grown into a popular platform for up-and-coming musicians in the area to showcase their talents.

Brent Jones, publicity manager for Lyrics on the Lake and longtime emcee for the event, said last year Mango’s occasionally closed before each round of the competition was finished because there were too many performers.

This year, to alleviate those issues, each night of the competition will be limited to eight performances. In addition, only solo musicians or duos will be allowed to perform.

The open mic competition will be each Wednesday for five weeks starting May 8. Each of the finalists will return June 12 for the finale, which is also the start of the Lyrics on the Lake Songwriters Festival.

Each open mic competition consists of three rounds. Three performers are eliminated in the first round, two in the second round and three performers will be left for the final round, Jones said.

Participants should be prepared to sing two songs per round for a total of six songs, Jones added.

Although not required, original songs are encouraged. Competitors should demonstrate an interest in writing their own songs since it is a songwriters festival, Jones said.

Performers should be accompanied by their own instruments. While singers will be allowed to perform without any music, Jones said he wouldn’t recommend it. “They can do a cappella if they want, but they are not likely to win.”

The audience can vote by making donations ($1 equals a vote for an artist) with proceeds benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in Lynchburg and Roanoke.

“When someone donates to Lyrics on the Lake, it’s a donation to kids in the community,” Jones said.

The winning performer will be rewarded with a trip to Nashville to work with professional songwriters and to perform at one of the city’s venues, as well as the Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival later this year.

Anyone interested in participating in this year’s open mic competition can sign up at lyricsonthelake.com. Performers also can sign up the night of the competition if the eight spots have not been filled.