Music. Moments. Memories.

Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

April 26-29, 2018

Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is closed for 2018. Thank you to all who entered! MerleFest offers songwriters the opportunity to have their original songs heard by a panel of professional songwriters and others from the Nashville music industry by participating in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest help support the WCC Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception, the Chris Austin Scholarship has helped 84 students and awarded over $34,600. This year’s onsite judges include Rodney Crowell, Andrew Marlin (of Mandolin Orange), and previous winner Johnny Williams (of Jeanette Williams Band). Jim Lauderdale will host the contest. 

2017 MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners:


1st: Linda Jean Stokley (Versailles, Ky.) – “Cigarette Trees”

2nd: Mike Bentley (Virgie, Ky.) – “Waiting at the Harbor”

3rd: Matthew Hurd (Rogersville, Tenn.) – “Life Underground”


1st: Paul Kelly (Santa Fe, N.M.), Buddy Guido (Mohawk, N.Y.), and Willie Schoellkopf (Buffalo, N.Y.) “Trap Door (In the Ceiling)”

2nd: Ian Meadows (Chester, Ct.) – “Faithless Preacher”

3rd: Kevin Hale (Brentwood, Tenn.) – “I’m Finally Going Home”


1st: Mary Bragg (Nashville, Tenn.), Liz Poston (Nashville, Tenn.) – “Lucky Strike”

2nd: Carly Burruss (Cumming, Ga.) – “Communion Wine”

3rd: Erin James (Nashville, Tenn.) – “Wilted Flower”


1st: Catherine Backus (Bedford, Va.) – “Tomatoes”

2nd: Alexa Rose (Boone, N.C.)– “Borrow your Heart”

3rd: Shay Martin Lovette (Boone, N.C.), Locke Griffith (Carrboro, N.C.) – “Bermuda Run”