A former drummer and alumnus of Berklee College of Music, Candace Avery started her professional music business career as a publicist in Boston, MA in 1985. In 1986, she founded her own company and began her career as an event creator and producer. In the same year, she created the Boston Music Awards, one of the city's most prestigious annual music events. The model for this high-profile awards show was duplicated in other major markets. In 1992, she founded Fall Fest, a 2-day, outdoor music, arts, and food festival on the historic Boston Common in downtown Boston. The annual festival, which presented major international talent and each year attracted over 100,000 attendees, became MIX Fest. In 1996, she founded NEMO Music Festival & Conference, one of the most respected music conferences in the U.S. In the eight years of her ownership, the event showcased over 2,000 major label and indie bands and solo artists from all over the world.
In 2002, Avery founded the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) which has quickly grown into one of the largest music compeitions in the world. In 2003, she divested her ownership of the BMA and NEMO and relocated her company to Nashville in order to focus on the ISC.
Avery's goal has always been to help aspiring musicians and industry professionals further their careers and to give exposure and recognition to their achievements. Both international superstars and indie artists have benefited from the enterprises Avery has created. Over a 20-year span, she has given awards to a variety of artists, including James Taylor, Donna Summer, The Cars, Aerosmith, Frank Zappa, Carly Simon, Elton John, Jackson Browne, Trisha Yearwood, Aimee Mann, Little Richard, Bobby Brown, Brian Wilson, Natalie Cole, The Black Crowes, J. Geils Band, Morphine, Boston, Arrested Development, Travis Tritt, Godsmack, Staind, Babyface, New Kids On The Block, R.E.M., and many more. She has put together showcases for thousands of solo artists and bands such as Linkin Park, Godsmack, Guster, and even Aerosmith (at the height of their career) in a club that held 500 lucky fans. Her passion for education was realized with NEMO, a 3-day music conference which presented in-depth and topical panels, clinics, and workshops. Keynote Speakers at NEMO included some of the industry's most legendary figures, including Ahmet Ertegun and Arif Mardin, among others.
Avery is continuing her tradition of offering opportunity to artists with the International Songwriting Competition, which was founded in 2001. An annual event which, according to the New York Times, "is the songwriting competition to take note of." ISC is renowned for its stellar judges which have included musical icons such as B.B. King, Tom Waits, Adele, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Kesha, Lorde, Pat Metheny, Kelly Clarkson, Avicii, Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), Nas, Bo Diddley, Rihanna, Jeff Beck, BeBe Winans, Andy Summers (The Police), Steve Winwood, Brian Wilson, Macy Gray, Peter Gabriel, Sonny Rollins, Casting Crowns, Paul Oakenfold, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tori Amos, Branford Marsalis, Taj Mahal, Kings of Leon, Darryl McDaniels (Run D.M.C.), Ornette Coleman, and many more. Industry judges have included many top record label executives, including Monte Lipman (President, Universal Records), Arif Mardin (Vice President, Manhattan Records), Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records), Sylvia Rhone (President, Epic Records), Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records), and many more.
Avery is also the co-founder and co-director of Unsigned Only Music Competition.