MusicDish e-Journal - September 24, 2018
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Interview With Mary McElroy Smith of the Nashville Song Search Contest
Contest to Raise Funds for Crisis Center
By Doak Turner
(more articles from this author)
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The Nashville Song Search is in the final weeks of entries to this exciting song contest. Winners are selected in (7) categories, with those winners flown to Nashville for a benefit concert with Country recording artist and Country Music Association "Female Vocalist of the Year" nominee, Terri Clark. The grand prize winner will be selected to be flown back to Nashville and have their song performed on the Fan Fair stage, spend time with a hit songwriter, a $1,500 guitar and other prizes. Information regarding the song contest can be found at The interview is with Mary McElroy Smith of Nashville-based Crisis Center.

[Doak Turner] Tell me about the Nashville Songsearch, what makes it such a special contest?

Mary McElroy Smith Nashville Song Search is for anyone who has the dream of getting their country songs heard by Nashville music industry professionals. Terri Clark, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee and CCMA Entertainer of the Year, is our spokesperson and will be performing a concert to benefit Crisis Center and honor the seven contest finalists. All finalists will be brought to Nashville in January 2004 for three days of fun in the Music City, including the opportunity to sing at the famous Bluebird Café. The Grand Prize winner will be announced at the Terri Clark concert and will be awarded a prize package, including a $1,500 Garrison Guitar and the opportunity to perform his/her song at the CMA Music Festival (Fan Fair) in May 2004.

[Doak Turner] You have such great songwriters, publishers and music industry professionals that are judges for your song contest. Tell me about The Crisis Center and how your organization is tied into the songwriting community in Nashville.

Mary McElroy Smith Crisis Center is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, free phone crisis counseling service. For over 35 years, the Crisis Center has been the safety net of our community, connecting people to services, listening to those in need and allowing those in pain to speak of the unspeakable. Our mission is to prevent suicide and empower individuals to make life-enhancing choices.

The Crisis Center has a very strong connection to and strong support from the Nashville Music Community. Our building was once a music publishing house and many of our callers are songwriters, musicians and singers. We are also blessed to have had many people in the music industry working as volunteers on our phones and sitting on our board.

Our judges for this contest include:
Matraca Berg - hit sing/songwriter; CMA Song of the Year with Gary Harrison for "Strawberry Wine"
Gary Harrison - hit songwriter, CMA Song of the Year with Matraca Berg for "Strawberry Wine", winner of 21 BMI awards and partner in Big Picture Entertainment
Clay Bradley - vice president A&R, MCA Records
Carson Chamberlain - hit songwriter and platinum producer - Mark Wills
Pat Finch - vice president and general manager Zomba Records
Kye Fleming - three-time BMI "Writer of the Year" for Country and Pop, and three-time Nashville Songwriter Association International Writer of the Year
Alison Jones - head of A&R, Dreamworks Nashville
Thom Schuyler - hit songwriter, winner of 18 BMI Achievement awards, seven BMI Millionaire Performance awards
Troy Verges - BMI Songwriter of the Year 2002
Kim Wiggins - creative director, Forest Hills/Sony Music
Brian Wright - manager, A&R, Mercury Records!

[Doak Turner] What are the seven categories for the contest?

Mary McElroy Smith The seven categories of Nashville Song Search are Perfect For Terri (Clark), Parody, Crossover, Traditional Country, Ballad and Up-Tempo. Songwriters under 18 on November 15, 2003, enter in the Under 18 category.

[Doak Turner] When and where will the winners of the contest be announced?

Mary McElroy Smith The seven finalists will be announced December 15, 2003, on and all finalists will be notified individually. The Grand Prize Winner will be announced January 13, 2004, at the Terri Clark concert.

[Doak Turner] Does The Crisis Center receive 100% of the proceeds of the entry fees, and what does the organization do with the profit from the contest?

Mary McElroy Smith 100% of the proceeds from Nashville Song Search benefit Crisis Center. The entry fee for each song entered is $25, of which $20 is tax deductible. The money raised through Nashville Song Search will help provide free 24 hour phone counseling and referral services, as well as support groups for Survivors of Suicide and Sudden Loss.

[Doak Turner] Please tell me about the special benefit concert that Terri Clark is performing for The Crisis Center.

Mary McElroy Smith We are honored to have Terri Clark, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee and CCMA Entertainer of the Year, as our spokesperson. She will perform a benefit concert for Crisis Center, honoring the seven finalists and announcing the Grand Prize Winner January 13, 2004, in Nashville, TN.

[Doak Turner] Anything else that you would like to mention about this great contest?

Mary McElroy Smith Doak, due to the overwhelming response to our contest, weve extended the deadline from November 15, 2003, until November 30, 2003. All entries must be postmarked by November 30, 2003, to be considered.

We wish everyone the best of luck in following the dream of becoming a hit country songwriter!!

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