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Enter the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest

Music. Moments. Memories.

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April 23-26, 2020

Applications for the 2020 CASC will open on October 1, 2019

2019 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition Winners:


1st Place- Anya Hinkle (Asheville, N.C.) – “Ballad of Zona Abston”

2nd Place- James E. Woolsey (Petersburg, Ind.), David Foster (Petersburg, Ind.) – “Sugar Ridge Road”

3rd Place- Wyatt Espalin (Hiawassee, Ga.) – “Light Coming Through”


1st Place- Russ Parrish (Burnsville, Minn.), Topher King (Savage, Minn.) – “Washed By The Water”

2nd Place- Ashleigh Caudill (Nashville, Tenn.), Jon Weisberger (Cottontown, Tenn.) – “Walkin’ Into Gloryland”

3rd Place- Kevin T. Hale- (Brentwood, Tenn.) – “We All Die to Live Again”



1st Place- Alexa Rose (Asheville, N.C.) – “Medicine for Living”

2nd Place- Bryan Elijah Smith (Dayton, Va.) – “In Through the Dark”

3rd Place- Wright Gatewood (Chicago, Ill.) – “First”



1st Place- Andrew Millsaps (Ararat, N.C.) – “Ain’t No Genie (In a Bottle of Jack)

2nd Place- Hannah Kaminer  (Asheville, N.C.) – “Don’t Open Your Heart”

3rd Place- Shannon Wurst (Fayetteville, Ark.) – “Better Than Bourbon”

2019 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Sponsors are:

1st Place Winners Received

  • Winning song performance on the Cabin Stage at MerleFest on Friday night
  • Perform a 20-35-minute set on the Cabin Stage on Saturday between 11:00 am – 3:30 pm
  • $600 cash
  • Two boxes of D’Addario strings
  • Shubb Capos
  • Saloon Studios Live will provide recording sessions for the four 1st place CASC winners
    • Saloon Studios Live will invite the CASC winners to join Saloon Studios for a live performance at one of their upcoming shows
    • CASC winners will either be opening acts or may be paired for a Rising Stars show on Saloon Studios performance show
    • Saloon Studios Live will provide each CASC winner with the unmastered audio and video recording from that performance to use at their discretion. Saloon Studios will retain a copy of that performance and may also use it at their discretion
    • Saloon Studios Live is an intimate, close-up experience where artists performer in a 100-seat, mid-nineteenth century saloon replica with state-of-the-art sound technology.
  • 1st place winning song in each category will be broadcast on WNCW-a non-commercial public radio station that broadcasts a varied format including folk, blues, jazz, reggae, Celtic, world, rock, bluegrass, indie and news.

2nd Place Winners Received

  • $300 cash
  • Shubb Capos
  • One box of D’Addario strings

3rd Place Winners Received

  • $100 cash
  • Shubb Capos
  • One box of D’Addario strings