NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Feb. 28, 2022 – Six finalists from Tennessee Songwriters Week won a historic opportunity to perform at the legendary Bluebird Cafe March 20 during a private event with music industry professionals. Finalists also won a branded commemorative Taylor guitar, a two-night hotel stay in Nashville, $100 gift card for travel and one-year membership to the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI). The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and partners hosted more than 45 events across the state in celebration of the state statute designating the last week of February as “Tennessee Songwriters Week.”
Jacob Rice won at the showcase event at Puckett’s Franklin with an emotional song called “I Will Remember.” Rice was also chosen by the prestigious Bluebird Cafe and Taylor Guitars as their January 2021 Golden Pick. Rice has worked with notable producers Chad Cromwell (Anders Osbourne, Joe Walsh, Neil Young) and Paul Worley (Lady A, The Chicks, Martina McBride), and was featured on Spotify’s “New Music Nashville.” He advanced from a qualifying round at Commodore Hotel & Music Café in Linden.
At The Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tyson Leamon from Riceville, Tennessee won among nearly 20 artists with his song “Who I Am.” Driven by his family and his love for music, he’s quickly making a name for himself in the music industry locally and nationally. Leamon advanced from the qualifying round at Museum Center at 5ive Points in Cleveland.
Robert Lee, who’s been writing songs for nearly three decades, traveled the country performing in dive bars, listening rooms and recorded four studio albums, won at Songbirds Foundation in Chattanooga with his song, “Methadone Line.” He advanced from the qualifying round at Historic Rhea Co. Courthouse in Dayton.
In Johnson City, Chancellor Lawson wowed the crowd at The Down Home with his song, “Happy Man.” Hailing from the Tri-Cities, Lawson is adapting his roots to fit the current music market and is a member of the band “Donnie and the Dry Heavers.” He advanced from the qualifying round at Model City Tap House in Kingsport.
Josh Middleton’s “Time to Go Home” secured him as the finalist at Lafayette’s Music Room in Memphis. Middleton is from Lexington, Tennessee. He’s been writing songs since he was a sophomore in high school and serves on the worship team at Overflow Church. He advanced from the qualifying round at Magnolia Manor & Chapel in Humboldt.
At Ole Red Gatlinburg, country music star Blake Shelton kicked off the showcase event with a video call and special message to songwriters. Finalist Maura Streppa took his advice, stunning the crowd with the fitting tune “Singer & The Song.” At age 18, Streppa was asked to play at Carolina Country Music Festival, as well as open for Jimmie Allen. It’s her passion to create music with love, authenticity and purpose.
Local judges with music industry experience served at each of the six showcase events had the tough job to score nearly 100 talented songwriters on originality, vocal or instrumental talent and connection to the audience.
Emcees hosted each of the six showcases, including the “voice of country music” Shawn Parr at Puckett’s Franklin; Evie Andrus at The Bijou Theatre who hosts WDVX’s First Fridays show and Taps N Tunes on The Corner; Donna Harrison, Director of Cultural Tourism & Inclusive Marketing at Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau at Songbirds Foundation; Executive Director of Stax Museum of American Soul Music Pat Mitchell Worley at Lafayette’s Music Room in Memphis; owner of The Down Home and Southern Region Folk Alliance lifetime achievement award winner Ed Snodderly in Johnson City and Great American Country network, Grand Ole Opry’s Opry Live host Nan Kelley at Ole Red Gatlinburg.
Tennessee Tourism, The Bluebird Cafe and the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) are committed to make sure songwriters can share their original work on stage with other writers. In 2019, a state statute passed, annually designating the last full week of February each year as “Tennessee Songwriters Week.”
Next year’s Tennessee Songwriters Week will kick off with qualifying rounds the first two weeks of February. Tennessee Songwriters Week 2023 will be Feb. 19-25, 2023, with showcases and special events across the state.
ABOUT TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT
Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “TNVacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, and “Tennessee” on Snapchat.