Sign up for newsletter
 

MerleFest songwriting finalists announced

Monday, April 6, 2009 – Finalists were picked for the 17th annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest as part of MerleFest 2009, slated for April 23-26 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C.

Writers of the following 12 songs, selected from 840 entries, will compete on the Austin Stage at MerleFest on Friday, April 24.:

Bluegrass category
"Water Falls" by Wyatt Espalin and Cobi Ferguson; Nashville, TN
"Love Gone By" by Carol Hausner and Coin McCaffrey; Montpelier, VT
"The Old Coal Mine" by Brink Brinkman; Columbus, OH

Gospel category
"I Had A Little Talk with Jesus" by Richard Henry; Houston, TX
"Little Bitty Piece of God" by Jo Ellen Doering; Los Angeles, CA
"Beyond the Rain" by Brink Brinkman; Columbus, OH

Country category
"Maybe You'll Start Loving Me Again" by Lloyd Wood; Spencer, IN
"Man of Few Words" by Dennis Duff; Kuttawa, KY
"Once Upon a Time" by Tonya Lowman; Lenoir, NC

General category
"Carolina Rain" by Ron Fetner; Seaford, VA
"I Will Fly" by John Smith; Trempealeau, WI
"Unmarked Pavement" by Letha and Miles Costin; Raleigh, NC

The contest is a way for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of this year's volunteer contest chairperson, singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale.

First place winners in each category receive: a performance on the Cabin Stage at MerleFest 2009, an acoustic guitar, a check for $300, two boxes of D'Addario strings and a 1-year subscription to Acoustic Guitar magazine. Second and third place winners in each category receive performance slots on the Friday night Songwriters Coffeehouse, cash prizes, D'Addario strings and Acoustic Guitar subscriptions.

Songs were judged by a volunteer panel of Nashville songwriters, publishers and other music industry professionals. Judging was based on a song's originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential. 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.

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $25,000 to 68 deserving students.

Chris Austin, from Boone, N.C., worked as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs for three years, singing and playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. During that time he was discovered by executives at Warner Bros. Nashville, who offered him a recording contract. While releasing singles including Blues Stay Away From Me, I Know There's a Heart in There Somewhere and Out of Step, Austin also developed his songwriting skills, as evidenced in Same Ol' Love, recorded by Skaggs in 1991. On March 16, 1991, Austin's life was cut tragically short when the private plane carrying him and six other members of Reba McEntire's band, as well as her tour manager, crashed in the mountains near San Diego. Pete Fisher, then of Warnersongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then MerleFest consultant and Pickin' for Merle video associate producer, initiated the songwriting contest to honor Austin's memory.

Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Rising Appalachia buck the mainsteam, and that's fine with them – Rising Appalachia would not be accused of being in the musical mainstream. Not too many bands who combine folk and Appalachian sounds with new world music could possibly be. And that suits the sister-led duo of Chloe Smith and Leah Song just fine. In fact, at one point, Chloe made it clear she did not embrace radio play as a sign of success... »»»
Concert Review: Bingham plays with something to prove – Ryan Bingham mainly focused on songs from his sixth album "American Love Song," for this lively show. Backed by a supportive band that also included two female backup singers and a fiddler, Bingham's eclectic setlist touched upon country, singer/songwriter folk, rock and blues. Bingham reached for lively country sounds early on, with... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Larue moves "Onward" The release of "Onward," his eighth studio album, finds veteran Texas Music/Red Dirt artist Stoney Larue at a crossroads. After almost two decades on the road, playing 200 shows a year across America and abroad, he has had success... »»»
Willis, Robison spin "Beautiful Lie" Eleven years ago, Kelly stepped away from music. She had just finished touring on 2007's exquisite "Translated From Love" and felt the angst of being a travelling musician with family at home. At that point, Willis and her husband, musician/producer Bruce Robison,... »»»
Chip Kinman celebrates brother, career on "Sounds Like Music" For a brief moment last summer, the news of Tony Kinman's death was, if not greatly exaggerated, then at least fortuitously premature. The roots rock icon, known for his work in The Dils, Rank and File, Blackbird and Cowboy Nation with his younger brother Chip, had been diagnosed with cancer in March 2018,... »»»
9 CD review - 9
Hollywood may be pushing a broadminded agenda where there are more genders than one can even count, but in Jason Aldean's world, there are only two: tough guys, and the women that love them. There's no confusion  »»»
Ocean CD review - Ocean
Lady Antebellum may lean a little too closely to pop music for many tastes, but it's hard to argue with the trio's song choices. And its latest collection is filled with many memorable songs. The single "What If I Never Get Over You," »»»
Thinkin' Problem CD review - Thinkin' Problem
Most hard core country fans certainly have heard David Ball's 1994 "Thinkin' Problem," a true honky tonk classic. Ominvore is releasing the album in remastered expanded format with eight bonus tracks, marking its 25th anniversary. »»»
Onward CD review - Onward
Veteran Texas artist Stoney Larue has been through a lot in 20 years of touring and recording and puts that experience to good use on his first release since 2015's "Just Us." "Onward" enlists veteran Nashville producer and songwriter Gary Nicholson  »»»
Travelin' Thru The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 1967-1969 featuring Johnny Cash
All these many years later, Bob Dylan 'bootleg' songs are still better than many intentional studio releases from other artists. Although some might have been shocked at the time to learn of Dylan's sojourn south to Nashville »»»