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MerleFest 2019 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition winners announced

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From the good folks at MerleFest:
After they were announced at MerleFest 2019, the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition winners performed at MerleFest 2019 on the Cabin Stage to an audience eager to hear these up-and-coming songwriters before they’ve hit the big time.
Now in its 27th year, the contest is an extraordinary opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of music industry professionals (Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, better known as The Milk Carton Kids, Cruz Contreras of The Black Lillies, and Texas-troubadour Radney Foster), under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale.

The first round of the CASC took place in Nashville, Tenn., and was narrowed down from 970 entries to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general and Gospel/inspirational.
Each of the 12 finalists received admission and lodging for three nights at MerleFest. Finalists attended a workshop Friday morning given by D’Addario prior to the finals.
After the contest, all finalists took part in a songwriting mentoring session with Jim Lauderdale and the on-site judges. The first-place winners in each category received $600 cash from MerleFest, a performance at the Cabin Stage on Friday night, and a 20-minute set on Saturday at the Cabin Stage. In addition, the first-place winners received a live performance/recording session with Saloon Studios Live, D’Addario strings, Shubb Capos, and their winning song will be aired on WNCW 88.7.
Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest help support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship.
Following is a complete listing of the 2019 winners and finalists:
Bluegrass
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”
Country
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”
General
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”
Gospel/Inspirational
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”

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