News from Berkeley

Here you will find up to date information about what's going on in the WCS Berkeley Chapter.  It's easy to find who to contact, where to go and when it's all happening!  If you need to reach us, please email the Berkeley Managers.

Please make sure that you membership is current. Take a photo of your membership card so you always have it with you. Non-members are ineligible to win.   RENEW MY MEMBERSHIP and enjoy all the perks including discounts, freebies and more.


  • THIRD Monday of the month (please check calendar, sometimes date has to be adjusted)
  • Location: The Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St. Berkeley
  • SIGN-UP: 7pm. Start time: 7:30 pm. 
  • Tickets $7 in advance; $9 at the door
  • If you join or renew the night of the competition, admission fee is waived, let them know at the door you are joining instead of buying a ticket.
  • Be sure to invite your friends. Audience encouraged.
  • Please make sure that you membership is current (Smartphone photo of card is OK)
  • Non-members are ineligible to win (but can perform, time permitting)  
  • CONTACT the Berkeley Manager

There are 2 winners of the Songwriting Competition each month, Best Song and Best Performance.

  • Best Song of the Month wins 3 hours of studio time from our sponsor BEN LEINBACH’S OLD BULL STUDIO and an invitation to compete in the Playoffs for Best Song of the Year and a chance to compete in the Finals. Additionally, Best song winner will be on the WCS YouTube Channel as a featured artist. Video file (not YouTube link), song title, location and short blurb with link to website/facebook should be provided to
  • Best Performance of the Month wins 3 hours of studio time from the renowned GAWAIN MATHEWS STUDIO
    Studio time must be redeemed within 90 days of the event. Winners are announced shortly after the end of the performances. Judge evaluations for all performers can be picked up in the lobby afterwards. 
  • A member can win Best Song Of The Month and Best Performance Of The Month twice during a season (with different songs) in each WCS Location. Playoffs are in July to determine Berkeley Best Song Of The Year. In August, the winners of Best Song of the Year from every WCS Location compete at the Finals for WCS Best Song of the Year. Three winners are chosen to perform at the annual WCS Conference in September


SIGN-UP - Sign-up on a first-come basis, maximum 20 songs for the night, get there early if you want to perform. Most members arrive before 7, buy discount tickets at the box office, then line-up for sign-up. Show your WCS membership card at sign-up. Join or renew membership in person and Admission Fee is waived. Only WCS members are eligible to compete, but non-members can sign-up at 7:25 if room available. If you want to bring lyrics for the judges (optional but recommended), give to a Chapter Manager at sign-up. TIP: If you received this email, you are on Berkeley Chapter email list and don’t have to enter your email address on sign-up sheet.

Michelle Jacques:

Michelle Jacques is the Artistic Director/founder of the CHELLE! and Friends New Orleans Band and CHELLE'S JUKE JOINT A cappella Ensemble. Michelle is secretary of the Governor's Board of The Recording Academy. Michelle was the Musical Director of the 2017 production of Marcus Gardley's play, "And Jesus Moonwalks The Mississippi". Michelle performs educational programs for the San Francisco Symphony's Adventures in Music, artist-in-residence at Jose Ortega Elementary School and LEAP...Imagination in Learning, interactive arts education programs/workshops at Stern Grove, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, children's monthly summer concerts for Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco, conducted for the Oakland Youth Chorus, and is a lecturer at University of San Francisco on music standards in education K through 8th grade for teachers.  Michelle also teaches at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp. 

Michelle's new a cappella ensemble CHELLE'S JUKE JOINT represented the San Francisco Bay Area in Germany and Austria's a cappella festivals VOKAL TOTAL and VOICEMANIA.  Michelle was commissioned to compose for the Oakland Youth Chorus' Spring Concert. Michelle is a founding member of Street Sounds a cappella quintet,  touring throughout the United States and Europe performing with and alongside many well known artists including: Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Linda Hopkins, Ladysmith Black Mambaza, Pete Seger, Al Greene, and The Persuasions. Michelle also performed in Geneva, Switzerland, for the United Nations World Conference of Human Rights, the Montreux Jazz Festival, The Gurten Music Festival, and The Berne Jazz Festival.  Michelle’s credits include: recipient of the City Of Oakland, Individual Artist grant for 2008, winner of the 1992 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA) for “Best Folk/Progressive Song”, “Home Africa", served on the board of directors of Arts First Oakland, studio recordings with the renowned Grammy Award winning producer Greg Landau including the soundtrack for the Sundance Film Festival Official Selection, 2010 movie “LA MISSION” staring Benjamin Bratt., 

Destiny Muhammad

Destiny Muhammad is a Recording/ Performing Artist | Band Leader | Composer & Producer. Her genre "Celtic to Coltrane" is cool and eclectic with a feel of Jazz & storytelling to round out the sonic experience.

Destiny has opened for The Oakland East Bay Symphony and Smooth Jazz Artist Gerald Albright, shared the stage with Jazz Masters Marcus Shelby, Omar Sosa, Blue Note Artist Ambrose Akisemuire, and Azar Lawrence to name a few. She has headlined for 'Women in Jazz' Concert series,  the AfroSolo/ Yerba Buena Gardens Concert Festival, Sunday’s in the Redwoods Concert, Fest Sundiata and SFJAZZ Tribute to Alice Coltrane's epic album Impulse Release 'Journey in Satchitdananda'

Destiny is the Principal Harpist for the Eddie Gale Inner Peace Orchestra, the Oakland Community Orchestra and performs with The AWESOME Orchestra.

The Destiny Muhammad JAZZ Trio~~~Following in the footsteps of jazz harp master Dorothy Ashby (who recorded with everyone from Freddie Hubbard and Frank Wess to Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder), the Destiny Muhammad Jazz Trio is a sleek and soulful ensemble designed to showcase Muhammad’s soaring vocals and transporting string work. Whether interpreting jazz standards or her original tunes, Muhammad turns every piece into a soulful adventure.

Destiny is Governor Emeritus and Educational Chair Emeritus of the Recording Academy, Jazz Heritage Center of San Francisco Jazz Ambassador,  ASCAP Songwriter Awardee, and Judge for The West Coast Songwriters Contest and Northern California Entertainers Music Awards Female Jazz Artist of the Year.

"When one contemplates the great musicians of Jazz a list of harpists do not immediately come to mind, but that is destined to change with Sound Sculptress, Destiny Muhammad."

LYRIC CONTEST – Berkeley Chapter continues to participate in the WCS Lyric
Contest, check other chapters if they are participating. Winners of the Lyric Contest will be announced annually, not monthly. To enter a song into the Lyric Contest, you must compete with the song at a participating Songwriting Competition. Awards are for Best Lyric- first, second and third place, Best Title and Best Line. Best Lyric of the Year First place winner receives 3 hours of studio time from our sponsor and is invited to perform as a non-competing guest at the Grand Finals. Our sponsor is JAMES GARDINER Pajama Studios in Oakland ( Winners are judged by a panel of professional songwriters. Past judges include Steve Seskin, Andre Pessis, Sue Ennis, Evie Ladin, James Earley. TO ENTER – Bring an extra copy of your lyrics and enter the song at the participating Competition. On the lyric sheet, write the following information: 1. Lyric Contest or L/C; 2. Date; 3. Location; 4. Songwriter name; 5. Contact information. Give the lyrics to the chapter manager at sign-up. WCS members can submit as many songs as they want, as long as the song is performed at Songwriter Competition during the Competition season.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – NOMI YAH is stepping down as manager of our long running Songwriter's Competition at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. Her last event will be January 15. Please commemorate her 12-year run by attending this event. She will continue as a Conference Manager and also be involved with the annual Grand Finals, and the Lyric Contest Finals. Berkeley chapter will continue on with the other co-managers Margo Fleming, Curt Ingram and Tina Dinha.
SEE YOU MONDAY - Audience welcome, let your fans know about the event!!!! Answers to your questions are on our Chapter’s webpage
WCS Berkeley Chapter managers Nomi Yah, Margo Fleming, Curt Ingram, Tina Dinha.


  • If you you have a backing track, give it to the sound person before the show begins.
  • If you have any instrument other than guitar or piano, let the sound person know before the show begins
  • If you are performing with other people, they don’t have to be WCS members but they do need to buy tickets.
  • You can have someone else perform your song as long as the WCS member is the writer on the song.
  • Tune your instrument in the lobby before your performance.
  • When you are called “on deck”, go sit in the front row with the stage manager so you’re ready to get onstage when you’re name is called.
  • When you get onstage, if you’re playing guitar, strum it a few times so the sound person can adjust your levels.
  • Announce your name and title of the song.
  • Performance starts at 7:30 pm and usually ends by 10:00. 
  • There is only time for one song for each performer.
  • You can promote yourself (new releases, gigs, etc) or introduce your song, but, if you speak, keep it very short.


The Berkeley Chapter holds an annual Lyric Contest. Winners of the Lyric Contest will be announced annually, not monthly. Lyrics will be judged by a panel of industry professionals. Awards are for Best Lyric- first, second and third place, Best Title and Best Line. Best Lyric of the Year First place winner receives 3 hours of studio time from our sponsor JAMES GARDINER and is invited to perform as a non-competing guest at the Berkeley Playoffs.


  • To enter the annual Lyric Contest, bring an extra copy of your lyrics.
  • Write L/C on the lyric sheet, include name and contact information.
  • Give the lyric sheet to the location manager at sign-up and check L/C box on sign-up sheet.
  • You must be a current WCS member to be eligible to compete and to win, and you must perform your song at the event during the competition season.


Lyric Contest judges have included: ANDRE PESSIS (songwriter, 16 hit songs, Grammy winner, 13 platinum records, songs recorded by Tim McGraw, Journey, many others, previous President and Governor of the Grammy Association in San Francisco), STEVE SESKIN (songwriter, 7 #1 songs, Grammy-nomination, NSAI Song of the Year, Music Row Magazine Song of the Year, Academy of Country Music’s Video of the Year, songs recorded by Tim McGraw, Peter, Paul and Mary, Kenny Chesney, many others), SUE ENNIS (songwriter, 3 Classic Rock radio staples by Heart, co-written over 70 songs with Ann and Nancy Wilson, songs in feature films “The Golden Child” Eddie Murphy and “Thomas and The Magic Railroad”, co-wrote a jingle that won the Puget Sound Advertising Award, President of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Recording Academy).


JAMES GARDINER is an award-winning composer, producer and recording engineer with two Grammy nominations and 42 gold and platinum awards to his credit, who has worked with Kenny G, Destiny’s Child, Will Smith, Tupac Shakur, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, John Lee Hooker Jr., and many more. His filmography includes Bad Boyz II, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Dr. Doolittle, Boyz ’N the Hood, and many more. He is offering a 20% discount for WCS members from now until the end of the competition season in August. Contact Pajama Studios 510-832- 5266 and request the WCS member discount.

WCS Grand Finals: 08/24/18

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WCS is one of the oldest and most active songwriter organizations in the world. WCS is a non-profit with more than 1,200 members. Membership and admission charges are tax deductible. WCS is a volunteer organization. If you can volunteer, please speak with the Managers or contact WCS. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask the Managers. 

Monthly Winners

MARCH 2018 Winners:
Best Song:  Maureen Blumenthal "Sad Side of the Bed'
Best Performance: Kaia "Forever the Young"

FEBRUARY 2018 Winners:
Best Song:  Kaia, Just Yesterday
Best Performance: Emma Lloyd, Caroline

JANUARY 2018 Winners:
Best Song:  Rob Shaw "Girl with the Guitar" 
Best Performance: Mia Pixley “All the Light” 

NOVEMBER 2017 Winners:
Best Song:  Chris Hanson "Augusta"
Best Performance: Emily Hamilton "Oregon"

OCTOBER 2017 Winners:
Best Song:   Megan McLaughlin "Steady My Love"
Best Performance:  Sky Nelson "Let Love Run The Show"

Berkeley Sponsors


Berkeley Location Photos 2015-17