Founded in 2022 by Newport Festivals Foundation in partnership with John’s family, the John Prine Songwriter Fellowship celebrates the legacy and impact that John had, and continues to have, on the Newport Festivals community.
Each year, one young songwriter who embodies John’s spirit is chosen as the recipient and is offered their first slot at the Newport Folk Festival.
Newport Festivals Foundation has also partnered with Almanack Arts to provide the recipient with a week-long songwriting retreat on Nantucket prior to the performance. There, the artist is given the time, resources, and space to hone their craft. We like to think that’s what John would have wanted.
John Prine was such an integral part of the Newport Folk community,” said Jay Sweet, Executive Producer of the Newport Folk Festival. “It’s an honor to celebrate his legacy by giving a stage to newer artists who show the sparks of truth and the willingness to embrace all aspects of the human condition in their songwriting.”


William Prince

There is no doubt about it: the spirit of John Prine lives on through William Prince’s music. His lyrics can be simultaneously funny and deeply personal – just like John’s. But also like John, he isn’t trying to be somebody else – he is his own, unique musician. 

That is why he was the perfect recipient of the John Prine Songwriter Fellowship. And we could not be more thrilled to offer him his first slot at Newport Folk. 

Congratulations, William. Enjoy your retreat on Nantucket and we’ll see you at the Fort!  


Jobi Riccio

From Jobi:

I met John Prine once, I was 17 and basically cried the entire time. I didn’t get much out coherently about what his music meant to me, but he was very sweet and understanding and thanked me for listening. I’m going to try to put into words here what I wasn’t able to then:

To me, John Prine songs feel like old friends, family members, or heirlooms even—passed down by generation and loved just as much by each. I have sang them with family, friends, and strangers alike, and any stranger becomes a friend during those few minutes. They have been the soundtrack to some of the happiest memories of my life and been there for me at my lowest—always bringing me back to the beautiful goofy joy of life. To have sang them this weekend alongside so many artists whose music has also made my life immeasurably better means everything in the world and more.

Thank you endlessly to Fiona, Jody, Tommy, Savannah, and the @ohboyrecords family for taking me under their wing this weekend and honoring me with this fellowship. You guys are some of the most authentically kind people I’ve met, and it’s an honor to know you. Thank you also to the artists who played with and uplifted me this weekend and helped me feel at home @missmargoprice, @erinraemusic, @beaubedford @robertellismusic @deertickmusic @philcookmusic And of course to the Newport #folkfamily and @imajs , @becspeters, @styleproof for bringing me into the mix, it was a dream come true and I can’t quite believe it really all happened. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart

Leith Ross

From Leith:

“John Prine has been an important voice in my household since long before I existed and as I grew up” said Leith. “I learned to speak, walk, and sing with his records playing in the background. We would listen to them as a family, and then my parents would talk to me about the lessons within them and about the beautiful way that they painted the world. I learned so much of my love for humanity and its habits from him, and his voice will always live inside my fondest memories.
I’m so, so beyond honored to be the first recipient of the John Prine Scholarship at Newport Folk Festival this year, and I can’t wait to share music and space with all the incredible musicians at Newport Folk. Feeling very weepy about it all to be honest!”

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