HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogThe Lyrical Singer Songwriter Contest: Nan Macmillan takes home the prize.

The Lyrical Singer Songwriter Contest: Nan Macmillan takes home the prize.

February 10, 20191113Views

It was a celebration of auteur driven music Saturday night at O'Connors, with the first ever "Lyrical" Singer Songwriter Contest sponsored by WHRV and Local Cheers.

Twelve finalists slugged it out after each submitting a five minute long video showcasing their songs to be judged by a star studded local panel of some of the finest songwriters in the 757:

  • Jonah Ross Grinkewitz of Court Street Company and a radio host on WHRV.
  • Local folk music royalty -- Skye Zentz.
  • The legendary Narissa Bond, whose new record is due out this year.
  • Kyle Bloom -- Music Director at Wavy-TV's "The Hampton Roads Show"
  • Nate Sacks -- Winner of the 2012 Sea Level Singer/Songwriter Contest, bandleader for the Lifehacks and a member of Galaxy Dynamite.

Sam Haga of Haga Guitars donated a custom, handmade acoustic as a formidable prize with other spoils including an appearance on WHRV and recording time at Flagship Studios, along with a bundle of other great prizes.

Of the initial finalists, five graduated into a second round to finish: Drew Lopenzina, Kate Stedelbauer, Jarvis Griffin, Dustin Furlow, with Nan Macmillan taking home the top spot to win. Closing festivities included a set from P-Town rockers, Court Street Company.

Macmillan is a widely traveled and seasoned singer songwriter initially from Boston but now a transplant to Charlottesville, Virginia -- where she graduated from UVA with a double major in Poetry Writing and Music. She completed her Masters at the Berklee College Of Music and is deeply embedded in the C-Ville music scene. Musically her work echoes the tradition of a Stevie Nicks or Joni Mitchell, with a strong influence from Gillian Welch. Personally, she reminds me quite a bit of the softer side of Sarah Harmer.

I hear plans are already in the works to continue this contest next year -- which is great news as there's really so few outlets to celebrate these kinds of artists. Kudos to all involved for investing time and effort into something that could help launch careers of some deserving musicians even if they don't win.

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Nan Macmillan


“Apple Trees”

Zachary Jones

“We Share This History”

Hannah Jai

“Not For Sale”

Drew Lopenzina


Kate Stedelbauer

“Boy Named Sunday”

Jarvis Griffin


Dariel Clark

“I’m Not Black?”

John Paul Harrelll

“Last Breath”

Joshua Purnell


Holly Kirsten


Mike P. Ryan

“Some Goodbyes”

Jessica Marie


Adam Hanson

“Space Nap”

Lena Klett

“Dizzy Tricks”

Dustin Furlow


Words and pictures by Jeff Hewitt