Introducing the 2022 American Songwriter Lyric Contest Judges

The judges for the 2022 American Songwriter Lyric Contest have been announced, and this year’s panel of jurists includes some of the best singers/songwriters in the game today. Read about our team of industry titans below, and enter the current lyric contest here to get recognized today!

David Duchovny:

David Duchovny is best known as an award-winning actor, director, and novelist starring in the smash TV shows The X-Files and Californication, winning a Golden Globe for both. His first novel, Holy Cow, was released by Farrar Straus and Giroux in February 2015 and hit the New York Times Best Sellers list. This was followed up by his second novel, Bucky F*cking Dent, released globally in 2016, which also hit the New York Times Best Sellers list. He released his third nationally bestselling novel Miss Subways in 2018 and his most recent novel, Truly Like Lightning, was released earlier this year and is now in development at Showtime. He just released The Reservoir, an Audible original that will be released as a novella in 2022, and recently wrapped shooting on The Bubble, a new Judd Apatow film. He also guest stars in the Netflix series The Chair and episode five features Duchovny’s song ‘Mind of Winter.’ More on the music front, Duchovny is eager to take the show on the road, saying “I always get such a kick playing live. We make our show into a whole evening, and take people on a journey. I can’t wait to do a version of this album for a tour.”

Rhett Akins:

Rhett Akins has had an extremely impressive career. He’s not just been a successful solo artist, he’s also written chart-toppers for some big names in Country music. He’s received 32 #1’s, Two time BMI Songwriter of the Year, ACM songwriter of the year and decade and in 2021 he was inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame. Rhett has already achieved so much as both an artist and a songwriter, but he’s not done yet.


Since 1984, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters gain exposure and have fun.


Marcus Hummon:



Marcus Hummon is a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and a member of The Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Among his most well-known hits are: “Bless The Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts, Grammy for Country Song of the Year 2005), “Cowboy Take Me Away” (from the Chick’s Grammy-winning Album of the Year, Fly, 1999), and “Born To Fly” (Sara Evans’ smash single, CMA Song of the Year nominee, and CMA video of the Year, 2001). As a theater writer and composer, Hummon has 6 musicals and 2 operas, and has scored two documentaries; his opera Favorite Son premieres in January 2022 with Nashville Opera, and his musical American Prophet (co-written with award-winning writer/director Charles Randolph-Wright) premieres July 2022, at Arena Stage in Washington DC

Bonnie Baker:

Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer, written for artists like Rascal Flatts, Rachel Platten, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Reba. Founder of BKER management.

Since 1984, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters gain exposure and have fun.


John DeNicola:

Few artists have earned the incredible commercial success and indie cred of John DeNicola. As a songwriter, his Oscar-winning hit “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” and “Hungry Eyes” from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, remain two of the most popular love songs of all time. He’s written with and for the likes of John Waite, Eddie Money, Kristine W, Jeanie Kendall, Sugar jones, Annie Haslam, Bernie Worrell, and various film soundtracks to name a few. As a producer, for his boutique label Omad Records, he’s helmed a dazzlingly diverse spectrum of releases from the likes of Kara’s Flowers (Maroon 5), Peter Lewis (Moby Grape), the Sighs, Fovea, Rust Dust, the Medics, and more. And beginning in 2019, DeNicola rightfully embarked on his own solo career, writing, performing, and producing two albums in quick succession: The Why Because (a collection of his songs originally recorded by others) and She Said, a soulful set of new tunes recently praised in the press for its “ethereal vocals, relatable lyrics, and somewhat striking instrumentals.”.

Lance Carpenter:

After winning the 2010 Lyric Contest, Lance co-wrote the No. 1 song “Love Me Like You Mean It” with Kelsea Ballerini, got a publishing deal, started a music coaching company, and performed with huge artists like Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, & Justin Moore.

Scotty McCreery:



Scotty McCreery is an ACM and CMT Award-winning singer/songwriter who has earned four consecutive No. 1 hits and sold more than three million albums. The Triple Tigers recording artist has won three BMI Awards for writing One of the Top 50 Country Songs of the Year: in 2015 for “See You Tonight,” in 2018 for “Five More Minutes,” and in 2019 for “This is It,” as well as the NSAI Nashville Songwriter Award for One of the Top Ten Songs I Wish I’d Written (“Five More Minutes”) in 2018.  A television movie inspired by his song “Five More Minutes” will debut on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel in November 2021. His current album Same Truck features his No. 1 hit “You Time” and his current single “Damn Strait.” For more information on McCreery including his tour schedule, visit www.ScottyMcCreery.com.

Nina June:

Heightened senses strengthen communication. Receptive to even the most subtle internal and external stimuli, Nina June leans into acute sensitivity as a lyricist and embraces expansive scope as a sonic auteur. On her forthcoming album (Nettwerk Records), the  Amsterdam-based singer and songwriter layers plainspoken emotion over multi-dimensional soundscapes steeped in strings, keys, guitar, and natural sound effects. After amassing more than 20 million streams worldwide, Nina June has been quietly making waves with one album and two  EPs under her belt. Filtering restless wanderlust into lithe anthems of awakening, she captivated listeners with a string of successful singles, sold-out shows, and Amsterdam’s prestigious Zilveren Notekraker—an honor in celebration of “Promising New Talent.” Last year, she traveled to London to work with producer Duncan Mills (Florence + The Machine, The Vaccines, Jake Bugg, James Murphy) for the first time. Together, they struck what she describes as “an immediate chemistry.” After a handful of productive sessions, the global lockdowns commenced.  Adapting to the changing circumstances,  they conducted sessions both remotely and in person to record the new music.

Martin Sexton:

The real thing, people.” -Billboard
Martin Sexton released his tenth studio album this year and is now touring with what Rolling Stone calls his “soul-marinated voice,” acoustic guitar, and a suitcase full of heartfelt songs. Sexton’s latest record (2020 Vision) is produced by three-time Grammy-nominee John Alagia with a guest performance by John Mayer on guitar. Headlining venues from The Fillmore to Carnegie Hall, Sexton has influenced a generation of contemporary artists. His songs have appeared in television series such as Scrubs, Parenthood, Masters of Sex and in numerous films, though it’s his incendiary live show, honest lyrics, and vocal prowess that keep fans coming back for a new experience every time. Sexton’s stated mission continues to be unity through music with a commitment to sharing peace and harmony through song.

William Fitzsimmons:


Over the course of his career, William Fitzsimmons has made his living writing a specific brand of honest and inward-looking folk songs that examine the evolving self while communicating his talent for melodies and catchy instrumentation. Fitzsimmons has released nearly a dozen full-length, EP, and live records of intensely personal material. His 2018 album, Mission Bell, chronicled his separation from his then-wife caused by her infidelity. With his most recent album Ready the Astronaut, William has created a powerful testament to his own past, and by weaving his story through the familiar tale of Icarus, he illustrates his willingness to accept his life’s highs and lows by paying tribute to the influence they have on the future.


Since 1984, the American Songwriter Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters gain exposure and have fun.


Heather Freeland:



Heather Freeland currently leads Entertainment Relations and Cultural Influence for Gibson Brands, the Official Guitar Partner of The Lyric Contest, based in Nashville, TN. A local since 2007, Heather spent the majority of her time in the music industry in artist management until her move to Gibson, which she has held and grown with the company for the last four years. She is active with Gibson Gives and sits on the board of Music Makes us, both of which champion music education.

All photos courtesy of their respective artist.

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