The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, in partnership with The Bluebird Cafe, hosted four open mic nights as part of the first-ever Tennessee Songwriters Week, Feb. 17-23. Created to celebrate the foundation of songwriting, recognize past and present songwriters, and pave the way for future artists, it was an exciting and inspiring week of music. Local businesses and venues all over Tennessee held dozens of special events in celebration.
More than 100 songwriters performed at four open mic nights across the state. The Bluebird Cafe’s long-time open mic night host and songwriter Barbara Cloyd, along with a panel of local judges, selected the top songwriter from each event. The winning songwriters will perform at The Bluebird Cafe on March 31. In addition, each winner received an Epiphone guitar, tickets to a show at the historic Bluebird during Tin Pan South and a two-night stay in Nashville.
Take a moment to read about this year’s winners below and check back next year to take part in the Second Annual Tennessee Songwriters Week.
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2019 Open Mic Night Winners
Songwriting duo Austin Carroll and Shara Matlock stole the show and impressed the Memphis judges on Feb. 19. “We are so thankful for this opportunity,” they said. “Our (big) dreams are coming alive with the momentum this contest has provided.”
On Feb. 21, Katrina Barclay was chosen as the Chattanooga winner at The Camp House. “This competition has given me the opportunity to share my art with a much larger circle … It makes me want to strive to write better, smarter and more passionately,” she said.
On Feb. 22, Travis Bigwood and the Lonesome Doves won over the Knoxville judges with their songs and storytelling. Travis said, “I started writing songs because I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to share … my experiences growing up in East Tennessee and feel that connection that only music can bring to people.”
Seth Thomas moved the crowd to tears when he sang a song in memory of his father who passed away last year. His mother watched from the crowd, and they celebrated together when he was announced as the Johnson City winner at The Down Home on Feb. 23.