MerleFest, an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC has announced the judges for their 28th Annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest—a well respected contest for writers of roots and Americana music—held annually in memory of Chris Austin. Austin was an acclaimed musician and songwriter who died in a plane crash in 1991.
The contest provides an opportunity for songwriters to have their original song judged by a volunteer panel of music industry professionals, under the direction of chairperson, Jim Lauderdale. The judges for this year’s contest are Trent Wagler, Darrell Scott, and David Holt
Trent Wagler is a touring musician and lead singer with the Americana band, The Steel Wheels. Wagler’s songwriting has earned The Steel Wheels numerous Independent Music Awards and top 40 radio play on the Folk/Americana charts. In 2013, Trent helped start the Red Wing Roots Music Festival to cultivate and celebrate music culture in the Shenandoah Valley of VA.
Darrell Scott is a Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who mines and cultivates the everyday moment. His songs take mundane items and transform them into something surreal, candidly honest, and resonating. The words he fosters allow the listeners to make sense of the world. Scott is a four-time Grammy Award nominee and has been named songwriter of the year for both ASCAP and NSAI.
David Holt is a talented multi-instrumentalist who has collected and performed the songs and stories of the Blue Ridge Mountains. David is a four-time Grammy Award-winning musician, storyteller, and radio and television host. He toured and performed with Doc Watson. In 2002, Doc and David won two Grammys for their three-CD set about the life and music of Doc Watson. In 2016, David was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Holt hosts a PBS television show, titled David Holt’s State of Music that provides viewers with an in-depth look at the music and personalities of America’s great roots music artists.