Josh Hudson wins Don Gibson Symposium for the second time

North Carolina singer/song writer, Josh Hudson, has made history by winning a song writing contest in two consecutive years. The 40 year old Cleveland County native took the thousand dollar prize at the Don Gibson Singer Songwriter Symposium in both 2020 and 2021.

His prize winning compositions were taken right out of his daily life. In 2020, his tune, Look at Me, was a song about his stepson’s struggle with autism. His 2021 winning number, Silver Lining, asks God for relief after what has been a particularly trying time.  

“Songs are healing. Not too many art forms can do that. With the COVID crisis, the violence, social unrest, political unrest, and people torn one way or another, I had it in mind to write a song that might heal or help instead of moving in the wrong direction,” said Hudson.

“Two fantastic songs. If you could get those in front of the right folks, they could be, should be, national hits,” stated Stan Lowery, executive director of the Don Gibson Theatre in Shelby, NC, who hosts the Symposium each year. “They are down to earth and speak to the soul. I think that touches a lot of folks and that makes a great song.”

The married father of four was immersed in music at an early age. 

“My whole family was musicians. 8-10 pickers would come to my grandmother’s house. I would stay up, right in the middle of it as long as Dad would let me.”

Hudson has been playing guitar, banjo, and upright bass ,along with several other instruments since age 10. 

“My father and grandmother showed me three chords on the guitar. Then I got a Chet Atkins guitar book at a yard sale, and gradually became more proficient. I learned other instruments because I wanted to be multi-tooled.”

Hudson began performing with his family at home and in church. He started writing songs at age 15. 

“When I was 17, my Uncle Harold passed away. He played Merle Travis thumb pickin’ style guitar. I called him Uncle Frank, after Daddy Frank in Merle Haggard’s song. I wrote a tribute to him. It felt natural to write a song. Songs are personal. It’s a three minute story.”

Hudson has penned over 300 songs in a 20 year period.

“Most of my songs are auto-biographical. I pull on my Christian faith and try to honor God. It’s an instantaneous thing. The meter, chord structure, lyrics all come at the same time. Look at Me was a 10-15 minute deal. My stepson told me about something that happened at school, and I immediately wrote the song.”

Hudson has recorded four studio albums over the last 10 years. 

“I have an inborn passion for music, especially bluegrass and country music, because that’s where the greatest songs are, in my humble opinion.”

 The song writer has his own set of favorite lyrists.

“Larry Sparks, Lester Flatt, and Larry Cordle on the bluegrass side. Merle Haggard, Don Williams, and Vern Gosdin on the country side.”

Now residing in the Sandy Ridge community of Stokes County, the western North Carolina resident hopes to sell his songs to artists looking for new, fresh material.

As he reflects on this year’s prize winning entry, Hudson concluded, “I figured with a song like this, win or lose, I had something good to say, and I could be proud of it and honor God with it.”

To hear more one of Josh Hudson’s prize winning melodies, visit him on Facebook or YouTube.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.