Singer-Songwriter Contest

Held on two consecutive Thursday nights, the contest narrowed to six finalists: Matt McCoy , Britta Adams , Nancy Haney , Jonathan Snelling , Deborah Tackett , Josh Johnson , Leslie Dudney . Reserved piano player Haney won over the judges with her well-crafted songs and took the $175 first-place prize.

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Songwriters' Praises

They toil in anonymity, working their fingertips into callused nubs in pursuit of the right tune. But sometimes the meekest among Knoxville's singer-songwriters perform in public for applause and cash prizes. The recent New City Café Singer-Songwriter Contest unveiled a few new talents that we're likely to hear more about.

"The quality of independent singer-songwriters in Knoxville right now is surprisingly high," says Greg Adkins , who is included in that bunch. Adkins, winner of last year's contest, served as a judge in the competition with Knoxville's own Karen Reynolds and Nashville songwriter Andrew Peterson .

Reynolds, who hosts the weekly Writers Block show on WDVX 102.9 FM and the bi-monthly concert series at the station's Gay Street studio, concurs with Adkins that the talented group made for a tough decision. "I was impressed by the participants overall," says Reynolds, a seasoned contest judge who has participated in Eddie's Attic 's famed Shootout, a hot biannual contest held at the club near Atlanta.

Held on two consecutive Thursday nights, the contest narrowed to six finalists: Matt McCoy , Britta Adams , Nancy Haney , Jonathan Snelling , Deborah Tackett , Josh Johnson , Leslie Dudney . Reserved piano player Haney won over the judges with her well-crafted songs and took the $175 first-place prize.

"Her voice is decidedly individual," says Reynolds. "She has her own unique sound and clearly isn't trying to mimic anyone else. It's clear and has a good range, but also she was able to vocally convey the emotion behind the lyrics." Reynolds encouraged Haney to stick with songwriting and invited her to perform with other locals at the June 10 Homecookin' Writers Block. "This girl is a diamond waiting to be unroughed."

Second-place winner Dudney snagged $125 and made the contest a tighter race in Adkins' estimation.

"I think Nancy ended up winning because her songs had a little more maturity to them, which is probably because Nancy is 30, and I think Leslie is 21 or 22. I can't wait to hear the songs Leslie writes when she's 30." Dudney will play New City on May 28.

Adkins, who will perform with Haney on May 14 at New City, says many of Knoxville's skilled songwriters go unheralded.

"There are a lot of great writers just below the surface so to speak," says Adkins, "They don't have the name recognition of Scott Miller or Jodie Manross or Robinella , but there are people who are every bit as talented."

Music for the

Young music-lovers whose spirits are renewed by a night of cathartic Bible-based rock won't want to miss the chance to get some face time on a local Christian band's new DVD.

Driven , a faithful five-piece band who have played music together since middle school, will perform a free concert May 16, 7 p.m. at Corryton Church. What cameras capture that night will appear on DVD later this summer.

"It's a good resource and a promotional tool for our band and what we do," says Josh Lovelace , a 20-year-old graduate of Central High who now works there as a teacher's assistant. Lovelace says the band has wanted to record its live show for years, so the opportunity to record at Corryton Church was too sweet to resist. The church's on-site studio, Grace Works Studio, is one of the area's best, he says.

Lovelace hopes to get 400 to 500 young worshippers to the show, which will include an opening set by acoustic performer Zane Ellis and be hosted by Bryan Currie , a youth evangelist from Nashville. Driven's shows are a musical mélange of styles, says Lovelace, from blues-influenced contemporary rock to jazz and Southern rock. "We're as random as you can get," Lovelace says. "All in all, it's all about God, so anything we do we just give Him the glory for it." Each Driven show ends with a gospel invitation, he says, which gives attendees a chance to talk with counselors about matters of spiritual uncertainty. "Christianity can be so confusing sometimes," says Lovelace, "We try to help out as much as possible. When they leave, they're on a track to living a Christian life after the concert's over."

—Paige M. Travis

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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