Winners announced in 2015 Chris Austin Songwriting contest

Dawn Kenney and David Morris, first place winners at the 2015 Chris Austin Song Contest - photo by John GoadIt may be a bit chilly at MerleFest this year, but the competition was hot for the 2015 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest this afternoon at the festival.

Three finalists in four categories performed their songs live on stage for the judges, who included Peter Rowan, Bruce Robison, and Jesse Bellamy.

In the all-important bluegrass category, first prize went to one of our own. Congratulations to David Morris, Mitch Matthews, and Dawn Kenney for their song, Something About A Train! This is David’s second major songwriting award for 2015, having taken third place in the inaugural Hazel Dickens Song Contest in February, along with Chris Dockins, for Weeds Where The Flowers Of Love Once Grew.

Also winners for 2015 are Robert Holthauser and Rick Pardue in the Gospel/Inspirational category for Brother Paul; Hunter and Suzy Owens in the Country category for It Would Be Easier; and Carter Sampson for Wild Bird in the General category.

All the winners will have the chance to perform their songs this evening, along with a $500 cash prize, and an additional $500 to have it professionally recorded. Pinecastle Records will then distribute a disc with all four winning tracks widely to radio.

Here’s the full tally…


  1. Robert Holthauser and Rick Pardue – Brother Paul
  2. Benjamin Luckhaupt and Titus Luckhaupt – Seven Times
  3. Dave Herring – Though I Walk


  1. Carter Sampson – Wild Bird
  2. Kristen Grainger – Doris Dean
  3. Laura Kaufman – Through the Grave


  1. David Morris, Mitch Matthews and Dawn Kenney – Something About A Train
  2. Buddy Guido and Paul Kelly – Deer in the Headlights Look
  3. Donna Hughes – Blackbeard


  1. Hunter and Suzy Owens – It Would Be Easier
  2. Savannah Smith – Mississippi
  3. Carri Smithey, Josh Coe, Ryan Burgess and Keith Ingalls  – No More

Congratulations and well done all!

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About the Author

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.