Liverpool International Songwriting Competition - The Road To Nashville

Oct 18, 2022
The Road To Nashville International Songwriting Contest


Last week I participated in the International Liverpool Songwriting Contest - The Road To Nashville.

My song King of My Own, was selected in the top 10 from over 20,000 song submissions. It's an incredible honour to be involved in not only a song contest but one as special as this.

The Road To Nashville song contest started to tackle the stigma of mental health. Every single artist that submitted a song had the opportunity to seek counselling from a registered therapist for free. Yes, free. That is how special the contest. It's not purely a contest based on competition.

With that said, you'd be blown away with the talent of artists that this competition has attracted. It's also attracted a number of hugely popular sponsors like BMI, The Exit/In, Musicians Hall of Fame, BBC, and The Cavern Club



Why Nashville and Liverpool?

The Liverpool International song contest started in 2021 lead by a non for profit organization called TUFF Earth. TUFF earth is a group of people who are about empowering youth and building stronger societies together in a positive way. In 2020, they created the idea for a song contest in Liverpool, England.



They launched the competition with a goal of kindness under the hashtag #king20. As you know, 2021 was a difficult year for everyone around the world so the theme of kindness caught like wildfire. Thousands of musicians submitted to participate in the 2021 International Liverpool Songwriting Contest. The top 10 contestants all performed for a panel of judges at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. James Holt was declared the winner with his song Make My Day.

After much success in the 2021 song contest, Tuff Earth banded together to create the song contest the following year in 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. On May 9th, 2022 a deal was signed to have the International Liverpool Song Contest take place in Nashville, bringing the two global music cities together.


Who Organized The Road The Nashville?

There's so many people to thank when it comes to looking at who was involved in putting the Road To Nashville together. From the very top we have Dr. Talwar Shamender. He is a social psychologist who had a vision for this contest in 2020 when a global pandemic swept over the world.

His vision was to bring people together through music and support songwriters and humans who are struggling with mental illness. It was great to get to know Dr. Talwar personally and hear his story.

The event could also not have happened without the support of Pam Lewis who is CEO of PLA Media and arguably the person who helped break Garth Brooks. I got to know her over the few days together as well and I can she is such a lovely person with a calming and generous spirt that puts you at ease.



Daniel Xander who is head of Tuff Music and Claire Simmo who works at the BBC were pillars in putting this event together as well. Daniel personally called me to let me know I was chosen in the top 10 and I couldn't believe it. He has positive, enthusiastic, and exegetic personality that kept everyone going.

Claire hosted all the events during the week and gave personal interviews to all the organizers and contestants. Her vibrant personality was contagious and it lit everyone up

There are so many other people to thank for such an amazing contest. Mark Logsdon of PLA Media, Becky Parsons of PLA Media, Gavin Butlin (who also flew all the way from Australia), Shannon Sanders at BMI, Jeff Syracuse at BMI and city council. Jon Keats and Paul Jones who are directors of the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Kevin McManus at UNESCO and Liverpool City Council. Our entire panel of judges who had such a tough job choosing a winner: Gary Morris, Jeff Cohen, Tim Wipperman, Pam Lewis, and Alan Parsons.


Who Were The Contestants?

I was grateful to be chosen in the top 10 of 20,000 songs. Still saying it out loud seems mind boggling. Unforunately, there isn't a complete list of all the 20,000 song submissions but you can see a list of the top 50 candidates here and a list of the top 10 candidates too.

I'll go a bit more in detail on the top 10 below because I had a chance to meet all of them and I encourage you to go check out and listen to their music.

Sean Kennedy 


Sean currently lives in Nashville so he didn't have to walk too far to perform his song Let Life Live You. He was born and raised in Scotland. I had the chance to hang with Sean for a few hours after our performance and he was even kind enough to give my wife and I a lift back to our hotel. Ubers are expensive in Nashville! Sean has a calm and humble presence and he's doing great things in Nashville. Go check him out!


Edi Callier


Edi was declared the winner of the Road To Nashville song contest. He's an energetic and positive character that has a good heart. He's able to bring you in to the details of his life in an intimate way and be able to share it through his songwriting. It was a pleasure to get to know him and hear about his story. A well deserved win! Edi's winning song is called Alone.


Skinny Living


Skinny Living is a groups of lads from Leeds, England. A lovely bunch. I got to them really well and was able to catch one of their lives shows a few days after the contest. Ryan, Danny, and Will. All super talented guys that are going to be playing massive crowds in only a few years. Mark my words. I was blown away with the quality of live performance and musicianship. I can't wait to visit them soon in Leeds, England. They performed their song Won't Be Long


Ammon & Liahona Olayan 


Ammon and Liahona were sweet and quiet. I was able to catch a few minutes of conversation with them but not much more than that. They had the opportunity to be American Idol finalists so they brought a good show! The performed their song All For You.


Charles Cleyn


You know this guy. That's me and you're reading my blog right now. I had such a blast performing my song King of My Own and it was an honour to be involved in a contest that's attracted so many talented musicians that are participating in tackling the stigma of mental health.


Alex Boyé


Alex is an energetic free spirited individual. His flight was super delayed and he almost didn't make his performance but the stars aligned and he was able to arrive to perform a killer show of his song Bend  Not Break. You can undoubtedly see his passion for helping people with mental illness by the way he speaks so honestly about it and his intense performance. 


Neeve Zahra


Neeve has a beautiful voice and she shocked the crowd with her confidence and stage presence. She set the bar high being the first contestant to perform. Neeve is building her singer songwriter career in Manchester, UK and flew with her friend Drew to perform her song Love Me.




Twayn is a duo group that consists of twin sisters, Hannah and Grace. They took the second prize out of the 10 contestants with their song Sweet 16. I was shocked the the lyrical and vocal talent of Hannah and Grace being only 16 years old. I was definitely not that talented when I was 16. Keep an eye on Twayn because I think they're going places.


Jennifer Sanon


Jennifer took us all by surprise with her powerful vocal and epic 007 like theme song with her hit The Point of No Return. She carries herself with a humble grace but on stage is taken over by an inspirational confidence that captures the audience. I really enjoyed her song and I can definitely see it in the next 007 movie. Can you? Be sure to have a listen.


Liz Beatty And Nate Strasser


I didn't have the chance to meet Nate but I got to know Liz a little bit. She was a profound story and inspiration for her song A World of Harmony. She was able to bring Nashville singer songwriter Kaylee Bishop to help perform the song on stage in front of the judges.


Abi Muir


Abi came all the way from Australia to perform her song I Forgot About Me. 3 flights and a few timezones later I was able to meet them and spent a lot of time getting to know their story. She flew down with her mother Sam and together they're a powerful duo aspiring to get Abi's music heard all over the world. She has a beautiful voice that is somewhat like Billie Eilish but her personality is unique!

Did you notice that I listed 11 contestants? If so, you're right. Abi Muir was added as the 11th performer in dedication to the passing of Joe Chambers.


Will There Be A Contest Next Year?

From what I know, yes. I believe the cities of Nashville and Liverpool signed a 5 year deal that will bring the cities closer together and support artists and musicians with mental health. A great cause and a wonderful opportunity for songwriters to find a platform to share their voice and music. 

If you're interested in applying for next year, keep an eye on the Tuff Earth website. They'll be sure to announce online submissions there.

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