CU’s songwriting contest draws from diverse programs


CEDARVILLE — Cedarville University is well connected in the world of contemporary Christian music, and the 12th annual songwriting contest held by the Department of Music and Worship will connect students with award-winning songwriters and producers.

The contest is open to all full-time undergraduate students at Cedarville. The submission deadline is 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27. Each participant is allowed two submissions, and co-writing is permitted.

Participants must email a PDF file of a chord chart or lyric sheet and an MP3 of the song to John Chilcote, professor of worship, at [email protected]. The entries are to be congregational worship songs or hymns.

Cash prizes will be awarded, with $300 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third.

In the past, the department has welcomed contemporary Christian musicians Paul Baloche, David Leonard, and Bob Kauflin to the panel of judges.

This year, the panel consists of Tony Wood, a songwriter and five-time Dove Award winner; Sam Hart, a songwriter and producer; and Maggie Youngs, a songwriter and administrator for Full Circle Music.

Along with a chance at the cash prizes, finalists in the contest will also receive comments and feedback from the judges about their individual entries — critiques like quality of the melody and strength of the lyrics.

“Not only do you get professional feedback on your songs, but you also get to meet other creatives and hear their art as well,” said Noah Ayers, a senior worship major from Cedarville who co-wrote the winning song, “Behold the King,” with Ryan Lee in the 2022 songwriting contest.

“We don’t write songs just to write, but we write songs to spend time with God,” said Lee, a senior worship major from Novi, Michigan, who also won the songwriting contest in 2021 with his song “Refiner.”

Though Cedarville offers a songwriting minor, there are many songwriters in the student body in other programs, such as nursing, psychology and biblical studies.

“Our hope for this contest is that it will continue fostering songwriting as a culture, producing songs that speak to us where we are and in our context here at Cedarville,” said Chilcote.

Winners of the contest will be announced in early April, and there will be a public performance of the finalists’ songs on campus.

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