Ryan T. Miller Named Grand Prize Winner of 2021 American Songwriter Lyric Contest

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

On Thursday (Nov. 11), Madison, Mississippi-based songwriter Ryan T. Miller was named the grand prize winner of the 2021 American Songwriter Lyric Contest for his song “Road That Coal Made Black.”

I am so grateful and incredibly excited to be named the grand prize winner for the 2021 American Songwriter Lyric Contest,” says Miller. “This contest, and its wonderfully talented participants, make me want to find ways to improve as a writer. The chance to write with the likes of Robert Earl Keen is a dream come true. Thank you to everyone who made that dream a reality!” 

Miller won 1st place in American Songwriter’s September/October bi-monthly contest. Each year, all six bi-monthly contest winners (coinciding with each print issue) are re-evaluated, and a single Grand Prize winner is chosen.

This year, the grand prize package includes a round-trip winter 2022 flight to Nashville and two nights stay at the Union Station Hotel (Autograph Collection), during which Miller will get a one-song, full-band demo recording session at OmniSound Studios and a co-writing session with the legendary Texan troubadour, Robert Earl Keen.

I’m grateful to be considered with such unbelievable writers—it’s a humbling thing,” Miller said during his portion of the announcement video. “I want to thank American Songwriter and all the judges who reviewed our lyrics. Robert Earl Keen is one of my favorite writers—he’s a proud native Texan and I, myself, was born in Texas. I certainly have a desire to learn from him. All the imagery he has in his songs, the illustrative way in which he writes, it’s something I aspire to.”

Featuring speeches from each of the six bi-monthly winners from the 2021 contest—as well as performances from Maggie Rose, Devon Gilfillian, and Jared James Nichols—the grand prize announcement video was presented by James Curleigh, the CEO of Gibson Guitars.

“Songs start with music and, of most importance, the lyrics,” Curleigh said at the top of the program. “Great lyrics you remember forever—they become legendary, they become a part of who you are and what you remember about the artist and the moment you first heard the song, again and again. Lyrics matter.”

The other bi-monthly contest winners alongside Miller were: Brian Estes, Diane Smith, Cameron Burleson, Chuck Thomas, and the duo, Chelsea McWilliams and Tim Allard.

With the conclusion of the 2021 contest comes, of course, the beginning of the 2022 contest—the new judges were announced on Thursday (Nov.11), and they include Rhett Akins, Scotty McCreery, Bonnie Baker, and more. Read more about that HERE. The final day to submit to the first round of the contest is November 15.

Enter Your Lyrics and Get Recognized Today


Congratulations to Ryan T. Miller and all the other winners from the 2021 American Songwriter Lyrics Contest—watch the full announcement below and read the lyrics to Miller’s winning song “Road That Coal Made Black” HERE.

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