The hills were alive with music on the evening of February 5 as local songwriters came together to showcase their talents at the Morgan County qualifying round for the Tennessee Songwriters Week contest held at MoCo Brewing Project in Wartburg.
Sixteen artists competed in the MoCo rounds and were judged by a panel of three with decades of experience in the music scene. David Howard, owner of Lone Mountain Sound, is a local artist who has recorded, played with and engineered sound for hundreds of artists over a lifetime in the music industry. Wendy Maness is a member of Westwend, a country/Americana duo that has toured internationally and a solo artist currently touring with Women In Music and a member of Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI). Jennifer Johnson is the Promotions Director at KIVK FM radio station and has been involved in radio and the music industry for decades.
All the artists were well-received by the crowd, which was comprised of friends and family of the artists, MoCo Brewing Project regulars and many who were there to watch the competition.
Many thanks to the musicians, judges, MoCo Brewing Project and friends & family of those who attended! Coordinating this local event were MCTA volunteers: David Howard, DeAnn Kirgan, Linda Brooks Jones.
Six contestants competed in the first hour of the showcase. Gary Gilleran, of Knoxville, started off the evening with his composition, “There’s A Better Day Coming.” Oliver Springs resident, Scott Parker sang his song, “Gotta Lotta People (Who Love You).” Singer-Songwriter Casey Smith performed her song, “Growing Up.” The next three artists were all local Wartburg residents and frequent performers around the county. Dylan Wilks sang his song “Hiding Place.” Phillip Goodman performed his original song, “Loser.” Darius LaRue closed out the first hour’s performances with his song, “Changing of the Seasons.”
There were five artists in the second hour of performances, beginning with Rebekah Luhrs, the sole pianist who sang her song “Next To You.” Knoxville resident John Rose sang “The Lord Walked In.” Dawson May performed his original composition, “Home,” and was followed by Lisa Clow, who sang her song, “Angels.” Mitch Townley closed out the second hour with “Number.”
Wartburg resident Tyler (TJ) Gorsuch opened the final hour of the contest by performing “Through the Lies.” He was followed by Daniel Haven Worley who sang his song, “Simple Words.” Scott County resident, Zeke Harness performed “All Right.” Sophia Miriam played her original song, “Pinch Me.” Closing out the evening, Rebekah Hensley performed her song, “Thank You.”
After the final performance, the judges compared notes and tallied the score sheets and deliberated before announcing the winners. Morgan County was allowed to select four winners and two alternates to send to the next stage of the Songwriters Week Contest. The two alternates were announced first: Casey Smith and Lisa Clow. In the event one or two of the four winners cannot compete later in the month, the alternates would be called up to perform.
The four winners were then announced, in no particular order. The four winners of the Morgan County Qualifying Round for Tennessee Songwriters Week are: Dawson May, Zeke Harness, Rebekah Hensley and Tyler (TJ) Gorsuch!
The winners will advance to the Knoxville showcase at the Bijou Theater on February 21 at 7 PM. The winners at that showcase will compete at the Finale against other regional winners on March 20 at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.