Chris Austin Songwriting Contest finalists announced

Merlefest-LogoMerleFest has announced the finalists in their annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, which will occur later this month during the mega-fest in Wilkesboro, NC.

A number of familiar bluegrass names pop up in the list. Lorraine Jordan of Carolina Road will compete in the Gospel category for her song, Judgement Day, as will Kelsi Robertson Harrigill from Flatt Lonesome for Just Any Moment. Bearfoot’s Todd Grebe is up in the bluegrass category for Master of My Destiny.

Each finalist will perform their song on April 26 during MerleFest, with a winner in each category chosen by judges Matraca Berg, Lynda Dawson and Chris Smither. Prizes include cash and merchandise, plus a performance slot that night. All finalists are also given free admission and lodging during Merlefest, April 25-29.

Here’s a complete list of finalists, chosen from more than 700 entries:


  • Aaron Burdett (Saluda, NC) – Magpie
  • John Cloyd Miller (Asheville, NC) – Cloud of Dust
  • Todd Grebe (Nashville, TN) – Master of My Destiny


  • Melody Walker (San Francisco, CA) – Black Grace
  • Lorraine Jordan (Garner, NC) – Judgment Day
  • Kelsi Robertson Harrigill (Murfreesboro, TN) – Just Any Moment


  • Daniel Davis (Bristol, VA) – Homesick
  • Eliot Bronson (Atlanta, GA) – Sad Town
  • Michaela Anne (Brooklyn, NY) – Lift Me Up


  • Ryan Tanner (Nashville, TN) – Days to Think of You
  • Justin Wade Tam (Nashville, TN) – Cold Chicago
  • Ben Roberts (Nashville, TN) – Gold

Congratulations and best of luck to all the finalists.

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John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.