USA International Songwriting Competition and New Songs

What a great surprise - I just found out that my song "Midnight at a Red Light" has won Second Prize overall and First Prize in the Country Category of the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition. I came home dead-tired yesterday from a cowriting session, opened my email and found the notification message sitting there like a big Christmas present with a bow on it. What a thrill! I have been working like a DOG lately! Somehow I've booked myself with 5 cowrites per week for the past couple of months, which is really pushing the envelope. I've come up with quite a few songs I'm really proud of, and things have been flowing well, but I'm REALLY looking forward to the Christmas break. I need it!

Some new cowriters I've worked with in the past few weeks are Jerry Flowers (who has toured as a band member with the Dixie Chicks, is currently Keith Urban's touring bass player and is a co-producer of JoDee Messina's new album), Rachel Proctor (was an RCA artist with the hit "Me and Emily" and also wrote Martina McBride's "Where Would You Be"), Nicole Witt (penned "She Didn't Have Time" for Terri Clark), Lauren Lucas (an artist on Warner Brothers), Jimmy Ritchie (producer of Jake Owens and Mark Chestnutt), Minnie Murphy (an artist on the Montage label), and Mark Selby (who wrote "There's Your Trouble" for the Dixie Chicks and "Blue on Black" for Johnny Lange).

I've also been performing quite a bit. I've sung some Christmas concerts with the Nashville Chamber Singers, a 23-voice a cappella choir of which I'm a member (gotta keep those classical chops up!). I've also done a couple of songwriter rounds at The Bluebird Cafe (tonight's round at the Bluebird also featured other Full Circle writers Ward Davis, Rachel Proctor, and Josh Stevens, who is scheduled to compete in the next Nashville Star TV competition in January), and played at Lyrix in downtown Nashville. I was an impromptu background singer on a Lauren Lucas show when she performed my song "I'm Gone" as part of her set, and I also performed my own 45-minute set with a full band at 12th and Porter, which was especially fun! Two of the musicians in my band had performed "Saints & Angels" on tour with Sara Evans, so they had all the parts down pat. I also asked my good friends Tania Hancheroff and Mary Sue Englund to sing backgrounds for me, so needless to say we had a good time up there! Mary Sue had to rush over to our gig from the Opryland Hotel, where she was playing acoustic in Pam Tillis' nightly Christmas show. A couple of days later, Mary Sue put Tania and I on the guest list for her show, and we got to enjoy it from the front row and hang out backstage afterwards (a big thrill, since Pam has been a major musical influence for me.)

So I'm off to play Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell, Georgia with Rachel Proctor and Casey Kessel next weekend, then back in town for a few more cowrites the following week, and then it's time to put my feet up and enjoy Christmas!