Announcing the 2015 Lyric Contest Judges


2015 will mark the 31st year of the American Songwriter Lyric Contest, and with it comes a brand new panel of judges. This year’s group includes judges from various fields across the music industry. Click here to enter the contest. Read a little bit about the new judges below.

Damon Booth headshot
Damon Booth
Vice-President/General Manager, Notable Music Company Inc.
Damon Booth played in numerous bands while earning a B.M. in Music Production & Engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Booth went on to run the Pop/Rock Membership department for ASCAP followed by executive A&R Positions at EMI Music Publishing & Warner Bros. Records.  Damon has signed and worked with songwriters and artists ranging from Citizen Cope, Jeremy Ruzumna (Macy Gray/Fitz and The Tantrums), and Slipknot, to Trapt, bloodshot, Regina Spektor, Sam Phillips and Rosanne Cash.  Damon is currently VP/GM of Notable Music Co. Inc., an independent publishing company founded in 1962 by jazz musician and Songwriters Hall of Fame member, Cy Coleman.  Damon oversees A&R, licensing, royalty, copyright, business affairs and marketing.

Todd Ramey
Todd Ramey
Artist Manager, Sandbox Management
Todd Ramey graduated from Belmont University in 2002 and embarked on a management career where he’s had the privilege of working with great artists such as Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, Dan + Shay, Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves.  Todd is married and has three sons.

Trevor Mathiesen
Trevor Mathiesen
Assistant Creative Director, Word Music Publishing
Trevor Mathiesen works in music publishing at Word Entertainment. Prior to Word he spent 10 years working for Michael W. Smith and his various imprints and most recently was a publishing rep at The MWS Group for four years. A graduate of MTSU’s recording industry program in 2003, Trevor majored in Production Technology and learned much about the art of writing a great song. A vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter himself, he was a worship leader at Belmont Church for 15 years and continues to do vocal work from time to time for radio/tv jingles. Trevor lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters.

Shea Fowler
Shea Fowler
Creative Director, Cornman Music
Shea Fowler, a native Texan, is a graduate of Belmont University with a B.S. in Entertainment Industry Studies. Beginning her professional career as a performer, Shea has worked in entertainment since the age of two. She moved into the business side of the music industry working for Big Machine Label Group in A&R, with artists such as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Reba and The Band Perry. Shea currently serves as Creative Director at Cornman Music.

Daren Searcy
Daren Searcy
Day to Day Manager, Red Light Management
Originally from Asheville, NC, Daren attended Berklee College of Music and Belmont University while interning at Lost Highway Records and V2 Records (NY). He began his management career in 2009 at Marathon Music Management where he handled digital marketing duties and tour management for a small roster of songwriters and mainstream rock artists. Daren has been at his current position at Red Light Management for more than two years and handles day to day duties for 3 Doors Down and von Grey.

Shannan Hatch
Shannan Hatch
Senior Director Writer/Publisher Relations, SESAC
Hatch is responsible for the recruitment, signing and nurturing of songwriters and publishers as well as the retention of existing SESAC-affiliated writers and publishers. She is based in SESAC’s Nashville office. Hatch works closely with such SESAC songwriters such as Monty Powell (“Sweet Thing,” “Kiss A Girl”), Kim Tribble (“One In Every Crowd”), Brice Long (“Anything Goes”), Rob Hatch (“If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”, “Goodnight Kiss,” “I Don’t Dance”), Lance Miller (“I Can Drink To That All Night”), Jon Stone (“Picking Wildflowers”) and Americana great Hayes Carll as well as many others.  Hatch is instrumental in SESAC-sponsored songwriting events such as Tin Pan South, Key West Songwriters Festival, Durango Song Expo, among many others.


Buffy Hubelbank
Publishing Director / Red Bull Records
After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Buffy headed west to jump start her career in the music industry and quickly landed a job as Client Service Manager at The Record Plant Studios in Hollywood. At The Record Plant, she met Ron Fair, then Chairman of Geffen Records and transitioned to a position under his wing. Buffy coordinated projects for marquee acts such as Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Nicole Scherzinger, Queen Latifah, and more. After Interscope/ Geffen/ A&M she re-directed to the publishing world to work for Jon Platt at EMI Music Publishing. then transitioning with Platt to Warner Chappell where she signed indie jazz-soul band Lake Street Dive. Following Warner Chappell Buffy took a Creative Manager/A&R position with Pulse Publishing, interweaving production knowledge and major label experience to cultivate and grow some of today’s most successful songwriters and producers including Bonnie McKee, JR Rotem, & Raja Kumari. Just recently she’s taken on the roll of Publishing Director at Red Bull Records looking after bands like AWOLNATION, Twin Atlantic, & Beartooth and overseeing writer/producers John Feldmann and Mark Maxwell.

Lee Dannay
Senior Music Producer, America’s Got Talent
In Lee Dannay’s 25 years in the music industry, she has worked as an A&R executive for Columbia and Epic Records, a publisher at Warner/Chappell Music and has been an integral part of the discovery, development and successes of artists and writers including John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Shawn Mullins, Gary Louris, Claude Kelly and Anna Nalick. Currently Lee is a senior music producer for America’s Got Talent, via Syco Music Entertainment, and runs an artist development company which participates in a non profit and music therapy research initiative.

Evyn Mustoe
Evyn Mustoe
Creative Manager, ASCAP
With more than seven years of experience in the music industry, Evyn Mustoe has worked in artist management, music publishing, and now holds her current position as Creative Manager at ASCAP in Nashville, TN. At ASCAP, Evyn is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with ASCAP writers and artists of multiple genres in the Southeast and beyond. As a Native Nashvillian, her passion lies in helping up and coming talent navigate Nashville’s growing music scene.

KLynn 449 rev1
Kelly Lynn Janson
A&R Consultant, Curb Records
Kelly Lynn Janson has worked in A&R for more than 10 years at Curb Records. She has found hits for Rodney Atkins, Tim McGraw, Clay Walker, Steve Holy and many more. You may have seen Kelly on the Red Carpet talking to your favorite country artist, as she has been a television correspondent for the national show Inside Music Row. Kelly is also a published songwriter. She Co-wrote “It’s Better I Don’t” for Chris Janson, “Seven Sundays” for Clay Walker, “Heart of a Hero” for Steve Holy, and others. She is married to country entertainer Chris Janson. They have 4 children and reside in Franklin, TN.

Keithan Melton
Keithan Melton
Senior Creative Director, Magic Mustang Music
Keithan Melton is the Senior Creative Director at Magic Mustang Music, the publishing arm of the BBR Music Group family.  As an 11 year veteran of the Nashville publishing community, he works daily to develop and expand the careers of his 17 staff songwriters and artists.  With cuts by artists such as Dierks Bentley (“Tip It On Back”), Trace Adkins (“You’re Gonna Miss This”), Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Joe Nichols, Scotty McCreery and many more, he has proven he knows how to make a living finding and exploiting hit songs.

Chelsea Junker
Chelsea Junker
Director, Creative, Wind-up Songs
Chelsea Junker joined Wind-up Records’ A&R team in 2011 and in 2014 migrated into a full-time role serving as Director, Creative for new independent publishing company, Wind-up Songs. Over the past three years, Chelsea has had the privilege of overseeing a small writer roster responsible for cuts with acts like Phillip Phillips (including the 2x Platinum-selling single, “Gone, Gone, Gone”), Train, O.A.R., Five for Fighting, and Rascal Flatts. She also serves as liaison between Wind-up’s team of composers and their television partners whom they create custom material for.

Travis Gordon
Travis Gordon
Creative Director, Universal Music Publishing
A native of Greensboro, NC and graduate of Appalachian State University, Travis began his career in Nashville’s music industry starting as an intern with Ten Ten Music in 2006. From there, he went on to the famed William Morris Agency Mailroom (now WME) and worked his way up as an assistant, Agent Trainee and Departmental Coordinator. In June of 2012, Travis accepted a position with UMPG Nashville as Creative Manager and shortly after moved up to Creative Director. With several major label cuts, including Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Jake Owen, Travis is fitting in just fine. In addition to pitching songs, Travis works as the day to day/product manager for Troy Verges, Andrew Dorff, Chase McGill, Jon McLaughlin, and Eric Arjes.

Tracie Verlinde headshot 2014
Tracie Verlinde
Executive Director Writer/Publisher Relations, BMI
Tracie is responsible for affiliating artists, bands, songwriters and publishers to BMI. Since joining the company, Tracie has been responsible for affiliating many writers including Linkin Park, Jack White, The Lumineers, Daughtry, Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, Jenny Lewis, Grizzly Bear, The Head and The Heart, among others. She has also been responsible for developing and implementing industry showcases, panels and seminars including BMI’s “Pick of the Month,” the “Acoustic Lounge” showcase series as well as the new “Hear It Here First” in-office performance series. Prior to BMI, Tracie worked at Avalon Attractions in Los Angeles where she held the position of Concert Talent Buyer. Verlinde also worked at TBA Media where she held the position of Director of Media.

Caine O'Rear Headshot
Caine O’Rear 
Editor-In-Chief, American Songwriter magazine
Caine O’Rear has written about music and the music business for nine years. He has served as editor-in-chief of American Songwriter since 2010. During his time at American Songwriter he has read tens of thousands of lyrics as a judge for the lyric contest. He believes the lyric contest encapsulates everything that is great about the American Dream.


Click here to enter the Lyric Contest.


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Daily Discovery: Square Peg Round Hole, “Big Thicket”