2014 Dallas Songwriters Song Contest Grand Prize Winners


Lucia Comnes - Grand Prize Winner“Lucia Comnes is a singer, songwriter, fiddler & guitarist with a ‘singular voice’ (SF Chronicle) and ‘a powerful imagination’ (C. Poling) whose atmospheric roots music crosses genres of Americana, folk, Celtic, bluegrass & alternative.”

Drawing from the past but refreshingly contemporary, Lucia demonstrates that she isn’t afraid of taking chances. Her crystal clear voice with a hint of mystery was decried by the San Francisco Chronicle as “singular…. embedded with soul and spirit.” Her fiddling is powerful and full of emotional expression. All these talents and imagination have conbined to create the grand prize winning song, “No Hiding Place.” Her imagination breathes vivid imagery into the lyrics of her songs and infuses her fiddling with the spirit of the ancient tones, be they from Kilkenny, Kentucky, or Kosovo. Grand Prize Judge, Roy Elkins, describes what makes “No Hiding Place” the winning song; “While the song has about a 5 note range, I gave it high marks for melody. The melody is so easy to remember, I found myself humming this over and over again and really wanting to learn the lyric. Sometimes great melodies are really simple, that is the case here. The lyric is captivating, thought provoking and if we were only hearing the melody and lyric, one can visualize exactly who would be singing it, what kind of band would be playing and even the clothes they would be wearing. It creates a vision beyond the content of the lyric. Another thing that caught my attention was that this song is dead center of the Americana genre with many lyrical & visual overtones. One listener might feel “religious,” one might hear “relationship”, one might simply see “a bird” and another might experience something completely different. Songwriting contests come down to the opinion of the judge, but there is no denying that this song nails the genre, with or without the music. With that said, it really isn’t my cup of tea, but the fans of this genre will eat it up.” The song also won 1st place in the Americana category.

Lucia ComnesLucia has recorded three albums, with the fourth, “Love, Hope and Tyranny”, soon to be released this year. It features 11 of Lucia’s original songs and an impressive list of contributors. It was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and produced by Gawain Matthews and Jeff Wood.

As a solo performer Lucia recently accompanied Joan Baez in concert, and was selected to perform ‘America The Beautiful’ on solo violin at the Oakland Coliseum to open the Raiders/Steelers Football game. She also opened for Paul Brady (an Irish legend whose songs are hits for Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner and Cher), and she collaborates with Irish artist, Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers) and modern dance pioneer, Anna Halprin.

Lucia ComnesBorn in San Francisco, Lucia Comnes started her professional career in 2002 as a vocalist with Kitka – the Oakland-based women’s a cappella vocal ensemble specializing in Balkan/Eastern European folk music. At the same time, she began delving deep into Irish music and studied with many fiddle masters (Martin Hayes, Kevin Burke, Oisín MacDiarmada) in the U.S. and Ireland. She also attended the Traditional Irish Music Program at University College, Cork, to study spoken Gaelic and sean-nos, or “old-style,” singing. Today she delivers new takes on the old songs with her band, Lucia and Her Rockin’ Irish Band who are well-know in Northern California.

Lucia attended UC Berkeley and graduated from Long Island University’s Global Studies program in 2006 with a self-designed interdisciplinary degree called Music, Culture and Nature, following her research in Ireland, Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. An avid traveler throughout her life, Lucia has studied, visited, and performed in more than 20 countries, including remote parts of Siberia. Today Lucia is studying and performing in Italy through the winter. See more at: https://www.luciacomnes.com

Grand Prize winner receives a PX-350 Pirvia Casio keyboard, recording time at Beaird Music in Nashville, a one year Broadjam Primo MOB membership, and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association. First place winners in each category receive $100 cash, a one year Broadjam MOB membership and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association.


Gracie LottA DeSoto, TX native, Gracie Lott is in her second year at the University of North Texas. She’s been singing as long as she can remember, and discovered theater in high school. As a senior she wrote, “Found” for a national competition and was honored with performing it before thousands, where she won Best Female Vocalist. She also won Best Actress three consecutive years in the Texas UL One Act Play Competition. In spring of 2013 she debuted her song, “Alaska Someday” at the infamous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville.

Grand Prize Judge, Roy Elkins, explains what makes “Say That You Love Me” a strong winner; “Very strong lyric, melody and hook. Clearly written from the heart by a very good writer. The melody and lyric are so strongly connected, it feels as if the singer is “begging” throughout the song. Obviously, relationship songs are a dime a dozen and it’s hard to create something unique that no one has done before. This is unique and I believe it’s one of those songs that would make a life playlist of a 15 year old girl. She will probably remember this song when she is 50, as it is very memorable and speaks loudly to a specific audience.” The song also won 2nd place in the Singer Songwriter category.

Gracie recently recorded her debut EP with Paul Osborn at Audio Dallas and it is now available on ITunes. More about Gracie at: https://www.gracielott.com

1st Runner Up received one Day of high quality recording on one song, and a night in Merlin’s Cabin at RIVER SOUNDS on the Llano River in the Texas Hill Country and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association. Second place winners in each category receive $50 cash, a one year Broadjam MOB membership and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association.


James BennettA songwriter from Tulsa, OK who generally writes songs that fall within the genres: Contemporary Country, Adult Contemporary or Contemporary Christian, Jim Bennett has been a winner in a number of song contests, including, UK Song Contest, American Songwriting Awards, Song Of The Year and John Lennon Song Contest. He says, “Sometimes I sing vocals on the songs that I write. More often than not, I find someone else who sings better than me.”

Grand Prize Judge, Roy Elkins says, “Something Just Clicks is another unique and different relationship song. Simple melody with a strong lyric. The hook is unforgettable and the melody of the backing vocals actually becomes one of the memorable parts of the song. The production doesn’t help the song as I believe it has so much more potential. But it is a song that I will remember for a long time and believe that it has opportunity in the rock, pop and r & b markets. Although this singer is very good, it could be interpreted in many different ways. In my eyes, that’s what makes it good.”

Jim drove in from Tulsa to perform his song at our awards dinner on December 9. The song also won 2nd place in the Love Songs/ Easy Listening category. See more about the Awards Dinner on this page: https://dsasongcontest.blogspot.com/p/awards-dinner-tuesday-december-9-at.html

Second Runner Up receives recording time at Joe Musik Studio, a song critique from Barbara McMillen, Associate Professor of Songwriting at Collin College and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association. Second place winners in each category receive $50 cash, a one year Broadjam MOB membership and a one year membership in the Dallas Songwriters Association.

View a complete list of winners here.

Listen to the Winning Songs

Sponsors providing our prizes include Beaird Music Group, Casio, River Sounds, JoMusik, Barbara McMillen, Bobby Montgomery and Broadjam. Submission partners are Broadjam.com and Sonicbids.com. Music industry partners are Dallas International Guitar Festival, Arlington Guitar Show, Texas Music Group, Bar-b Music Marketing Consultants, Musemuse.com, and Austin Songwriters Group.

Dallas Songwriters Assoc. is a 501c3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to providing information about the craft and business of songwriting. All styles of music are welcome in the DSA, and membership includes writers of all ages. DSA monthly activities include meetings with guest speakers, song critiques and performance showcases that are open to the public. In addition, the DSA supports and promotes workshops and contests and publishes a monthly newsletter. For more information, visit dallassongwriters.org.