Announcing the Judges For the 2018 American Songwriter Lyric Contest

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Lera Lynn will serve as one of the new judges for 2018.

2018 will mark the 34th year of the American Songwriter Lyric Contest, and with it comes a brand new panel of judges. This year’s group includes artists from various fields across the musical spectrum. Click here to enter the January/February contest. Read a little bit about the new judges below.

Judges (scroll down to read bios)

Taylor Goldsmith
Allison Pierce
Cory Branan
Lera Lynn
Britta Phillips
Grant Lee-Phillips
Peter Bradley Adams
Lance Carpenter
Allison Moorer
Cale Dodds
Jim White
Yola Carter
Slaid Cleaves
Joe Pug
Charlie Mars
Matthew Ryan
Pierce Pettis
Charlie Worsham
Caine O’Rear

Taylor Goldsmith 

Taylor Goldsmith is the primary singer-songwriter for the band Dawes. Esquire Magazine called Goldsmith “the best young songwriter in America” and says of his songs, “These are songs that don’t just speak for themselves but accomplish something far rarer – they speak for us.” The Californian draws influence from Bonnie ‘Prince Billy, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, and Jackson Browne. Dawes’ song “All Your Favorite Bands” claimed the #1 spot on American Songwriter’s Top 50 Songs of 2015.

Allison Pierce 

Allison Pierce is one-half of the group The Pierces. Their song “Secret” is the theme for the long-running ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars. Allison’s solo debut Year of the Rabbit was released in May on Sony Masterworks.

Cory Branan 

Cory Branan, a Nashville-based country/punk/folk songwriter, has released five critically acclaimed albums with labels Madjack and Bloodshot Records over his 20-plus year professional career. Branan is known for his tenacious road spirit, witty lyricism, and dynamic performances.

Lera Lynn 

Lera Lynn is currently working on the follow-up album to her 2016 critically-acclaimed release, Resistor. Lynn received praise for her role in shaping the dark direction of True Detective‘s second season, appearing in the popular HBO series as a barroom singer and contributing a handful of original songs to the show’s soundtrack. Her music has also been heard in HBO’s The Young Pope, Bravo’s Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce, and ABC Family/Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars. Over the course of five years, with three albums, a self produced EP, and a soundtrack under her belt, this fiercely independent musician has developed into a distinguished and multi-talented artist.

Britta Phillips 

Britta Phillips, a member of the bands LUNA and Dean & Britta, released her debut solo album Luck or Magic last year. She also scores films with her husband and bandmate, Dean Wareham. Britta began her musical career as the singing voice of ’80s cartoon character, JEM.

Grant Lee-Phillips 

Grant-Lee Phillips’ former band Grant Lee Buffalo staked out a unique place in the musical landscape of the ‘90s. The twenty-first century found him transitioning into a prolific solo career, one that was founded on detailed lyrical story telling and rich musical atmospheres. “History and legend have often found their way into my songs,” he says. His ninth solo album, Widdershins, is due out in February 2018.

Peter Bradley Adams

Peter Bradley Adams was one half of the duo, Eastmountainsouth, who were signed by Robbie Robertson (The Band) to Dreamworks records in 2003. Adams has since released six solo records, most recently, A Face Like Mine, which came out in April 2017. He’s also had notable song placements, including in the films Everybody’s Fine and Something Borrowed, as well as the TV shows Alias, Vampire Diaries, Betrayal, Switched At Birth, Macgyver and The Fosters. He lives in Nashville.

Lance Carpenter 

Nashville recording artist and professional songwriter Lance Carpenter pens hits for contemporary country radio, while still staying true to his traditional background. Lance landed his first No. 1 for a song he co-wrote with Kelsea Ballerini, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” The football player turned lyricist moved to Nashville in 2011 and in 18 short months signed his first publishing deal and secured two major cuts. He released his debut self-titled debut album in 2013 and has performed with Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Justin Moore, Randy Rogers Band and more. Lance currently writes for Parallel Music Publishing and plans to continue writing music that inspires, memorializes and captures his own zest for life. Last but not least, he earned 1st place in American Songwriter’s Sept/Oct 2010 Lyric Contest with his song “Notches.”

Allison Moorer 

Allison Moorer is an Academy Award nominated singer-songwriter and writer. She has made ten albums and just completed work on her first memoir. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and lives in New York City with her son, John Henry.

Cale Dodds

Cale Dodds is a singer-songwriter from Columbus, Georgia. He is also a recording artist for Warner Music Group (Nashville) and a staff writer for Warner-Chappell. He counts Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Garth Brooks among his influences.

Jim White

Jim White is a musician, producer, writer, visual artist and occasional barstool philosopher. Discovered in the mid ‘90s by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, White’s debut release The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong Eyed Jesus inspired the award-winning BBC documentary Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus. Songs from White’s extensive back catalog have appeared in TV shows like Breaking Bad and Rectify, in addition to several films. White lives outside Athens, Georgia with his 11-year-old daughter.

Yola Carter

Yola Carter is a country-soul singer-songwriter from Bristol, UK, whose recent successes include being voted ‘UK Artist of the Year’ at the AMA UK Awards, a much-hyped performance at AmericanaFest in Nashville, and a recent headlining tour. Toward the end of 2016 Carter was noted as an ‘artist to watch’ by publications ranging from The Guardian and NPR to Stereogum and No Depression.

Slaid Cleaves

Maine native and Texas-based songwriter Slaid Cleaves has been touring and making records for some time. Of his last album, Ghost On The Car Radio, American Songwriter wrote: “Cleaves brings such warmth, tenderness and humanity to his songs that you’ll be hanging on his words and getting lost in the worlds of characters most of us are familiar with.”

Joe Pug

Joe Pug is a singer-songwriter who currently makes his home on the East Coast. He also hosts “The Working Songwriter” podcast.

Charlie Mars

Charlie Mars is a Mississippi-born singer-songwriter who has recorded several albums and tours constantly. He has a new album called Beach Town that will be released in 2018. He holds an English degree from SMU.

Matthew Ryan

20 years into his career, Matthew Ryan is experiencing an acclaimed and noisy renaissance. It began in 2014 with the blue-collar punk of his Kevin Salem-produced collection Boxers, and now with Hustle Up Starlings we see the follow through. Produced by Brian Fallon, Starlings is a collection of shimmering and silvery anthems offered with Ryan’s signature heart on the sleeve concision and voice.

Pierce Pettis

Pierce Pettis is an internationally touring singer-songwriter signed to Compass Records. He began his career at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and was formerly staff songwriter at Polygram and Universal in Nashville. His songs have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Art Garfunkel, Joan Baez, David Wilcox, Dar Williams, and Dion.

Charlie Worsham

Beloved within the Nashville community, Charlie Worsham continues to receive widespread attention for his new album, Beginning of Things. Of the music, American Songwriter declared Worsham, “one of country’s most formidable dark horses, a quiet contender worthy of the attention and airplay claimed by his less cerebral contemporaries,” while Rolling Stone calls it, “The Most Vulnerable Country Album of 2017.” Born and raised in Mississippi, Worsham attended Grenada High School and went on to study at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. In addition to his life as a musician, Worsham is actively involved in music education and, last year, founded the Follow Your Heart Scholarship Fund in partnership with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The fund supports the youth of Grenada, Mississippi — his hometown — who possess uncommon talent and desire to achieve great things in the arts. In its first year, the organization has raised nearly $50,000. More information can be found at www.FollowYourHeartArts.org and www.charlieworsham.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/thecharlieworsham and on Twitter @charlieworsham.

Caine O’Rear

Caine O’Rear has worked as the editor in chief of American Songwriter since 2010. He previously worked as a political journalist for various publications in Virginia and Alabama.

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