MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

Earlier this year I told you about the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest coming to Merlefest. This was a fabulous opportunity for songwriters to get their pieces heard by true legends in the industry like Rodney Crowell. The Merlefest 2018 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest winners were announced yesterday and I have them below for those of you who want to check them out!

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

Yesterday, MerleFest festival goers flocked to The Austin Stage for the 26th Annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. MerleFest, presented by Window World, congratulates the following 2018 winners, chosen from 1021 entries: 

1st Place – Vickie Austin (Fall Branch, Tenn.) – “Can’t Hold on to Much”
2nd Place – James Woolsey (Petersburg, Ind.) – “Lights of Home”
3rd Place – Frank D. Ray (Hillsboro, Mo.) – “False Hearted Love”

1st Place – Beth Lee (Black Mountain, N.C.) – “Sacred Song”
2nd Place – Bob Hight (Greensboro, N.C.) – “Heaven Will Be Mine”
3rd Place – Andy Owens (Boone, N.C.) – “The Truth of Love”

1st Place – Amanda Fields (Nashville, Tenn.), Tom Buller (Nashville, Tenn.) – “Whiskey Ain’t Got Nothing on You”
2nd Place – Marie Bradshaw (Centerville, Utah.), Daniel Young (North Salt Lake, Utah.), Kiki Jane Sieger (North Salt Lake, Utah.) – “These Walls (May Never Come Down)”
3rd Place – Cliff Westfall (Highland Park, N.J.) – “More and More”

1st Place – Cliff Ritchey (Markleville, Ind.) – “Honey Baby”
2nd Place – Bryan Elijah Smith (Dayton, Va,)– “Nothing Left”
3rd Place – Zander Michigan (Clawson, Mich.) – “Born Again”

Rodney Crowell To Judge Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is a unique opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of the volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale.

The on-site judges for this year’s competition included 2018 festival headliner and Grammy-award winning artist Rodney Crowell​, previous CASC winner Johnny Williams​ of the Jeanette Williams Band, and acclaimed vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marlin​ of Mandolin Orange, who said, “Sitting as a judge for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest has taught me I still have a lot to learn about songwriting.” All finalists were given the chance to take part in a songwriting mentoring session with Lauderdale, Marlin, and Williams. The first place winners in each category received $600 cash from MerleFest, a Friday night performance slot on the Cabin Stage, and an opportunity to perform a set on Saturday on the Cabin Stage.

Judging is based on a song’s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential. The contest is open to those whose primary source of income (50 percent or more) is not derived from songwriting or publishing. The first round of the CASC takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, where applicants were narrowed down to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general, and gospel/inspirational. The first-round judges included Grammy-nominated bassist and Watson family collaborator T Michael Coleman​; noted artist Ken Tizzard​, bassist of The Watchmen; former CASC winner and critically-acclaimed songwriter Aaron Burdett​; 2018 MerleFest performer CJ Lewandowski​ of The Po’ Ramblin Boys; Nathan Nicholson, Head of Creative at Thirty Tigers Music Publishing; Ashlee Jean Trott Lurgio, Senior Producer of Music City Roots; and Whitney Holmes, buyer at Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

Net proceeds from the contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship​. Since its inception, the scholarship has awarded over to 87 deserving students. Previous winners of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest include Gillian Welch, Tift Merritt, Michael Reno Harrell, Adrienne Young, Martha Scanlan, David Via and Johnny Williams.

About MerleFest

MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the son of the late American music legend Doc Watson, renowned guitarist Eddy Merle Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including old-time, classic country, bluegrass, folk and gospel and blues, and expanded to include Americana, classic rock and many other styles. The festival hosts a diverse mix of artists on its 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. MerleFest has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Foundation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.

About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.

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