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John Cloyd Miller Captures First Place Bluegrass Award

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John Cloyd Miller. Photo by Terry ManierWilkesboro, NC -- One of the annual highlights of MerleFest is the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC). Finalists were selected earlier for this year's annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest, hosted by MerleFest 2013. Now in its 21st year, the contest is an extraordinary opportunity for aspiring writers to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of music industry professionals, under the direction of this year’s volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy®-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. MerleFest 2013 took place April 25 through 28 on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. This year, John Cloyd Miller captured the first place prize in the Bluegrass category in the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.

Each of the twelve finalists received admission and lodging for three nights at MerleFest, and received a mentoring session with Jim Lauderdale. In addition, the first place winners received a performance slot on the Cabin Stage's Friday schedule of the festival.

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $36,000 to 75 deserving students. To learn more details about the contest, visit

Distinguished songwriters Matraca Berg, Lynda Dawson and Chris Smither will be among the judges that determine this year’s winners. Judging is based on a song’s originality, lyrics, melody and overall commercial potential.

The 2013 CASC Winners Are:

  • Bluegrass
    • 1st Place - John Cloyd Miller, Pictured above, (Asheville, N.C.) - "Cloud of Dust"
    • 2nd Place - Todd Grebe (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Master of My Destiny"
    • 3rd Place - Aaron Burdett (Saluda, N.C.) - "Magpie"
  • Gospel/Inspirational
    • 1st Place - Melody Walker (San Francisco, Calif.) - “Black Grace”
    • 2nd Place - Lorraine Jordan (Garner, N.C.) - "Judgment Day"
    • 3rd Place - Kelsi Robertson Harrigill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) - "Just Any Moment"
  • Country
    • 1st Place - Eliot Bronson (Atlanta, Ga.) - "Sad Town"
    • 2nd Place - Daniel Davis (Bristol, Va.) - "Homesick"
    • 3rd Place - Michaela Anne (Brooklyn, N.Y.) - "Lift Me Up"
  • General
    • 1st Place - Justin Wade Tam (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Cold Chicago”
    • 2nd Place - Ryan Tanner (Nashville, Tenn.) - "Days to Think of You"
    • 3rd Place - Ben Roberts & Emily Roberts (Nashville, Tenn.)- "Gold "


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