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Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, and Matt Thiessen (Relient K) Among Competition Judges

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May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013 - - The International Songwriting Competition (ISC), widely recognized as the world's premier songwriting event, recently announced its 2012 winners. Out of over 20,000 entries from 119 different countries, Gospel/Christian artists and songwriters Alan Thomas, Derek Henbest, Phil Wickham, Joseph Pfeifer and Jimmy Robeson have earned First, Second, and Third Place wins in the Gospel/Christian category. A historically competitive category within ISC, the Gospel/Christian category boasts an impressive list of judges including respected artists such as Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Matt Thiesson of Relient K, and many more. In addition to celebrity artists, ISC judges also included seven record label presidents as well as other industry leaders, offering songwriters the unprecedented opportunity to have their music heard by influential decision-makers. See below for the complete list of judges and more info on the Gospel/Christian winners.

"ISC's mission is to inspire and promote greatness in the field of songwriting," says Candace Avery, Founder and Director. "It is humbling to hear so many talented songwriters, and it is gratifying to play a part in the growth of the winners' careers." Established in 2002, ISC awards more than $150,000 in cash and prizes to amateur and professional songwriters around the world.

Winning ISC's highest honor, the Grand Prize, is California native Joshua Hanson for his song "Monsters With Misdemeanors." As the lead singer and songwriter of the award-winning indie folk/rock trio Yellow Red Sparks, Hanson is the son of a lounge-singing mother and a theatrically trained father. From a young age he was always fascinated with words and how the stories would unfold through the liner notes of some of his favorite songwriters. His ability of expression is eloquent and effortless, crafting and delivering candid and poetic lyrics that elicit the slightest hint of bittersweet heartache. Candace Avery, Founder and Director of ISC, says "The judges loved the song for its sparse honesty and achingly tender lyrics. ISC is very excited to honor such a talented songwriter, and we anticipate a brilliant future for this promising artist." Yellow Red Sparks released their debut full-length CD in early 2013, and it has already garnered glowing reviews and the attention of music tastemakers.

For a complete list of 2012 ISC winners, hear the winning songs, and download low-res photos of all winners go to

2012 Gospel/Christian Winners Include:

First Place
"All Things New" - Alan Thomas - Little Rock, AR, USA

First place in this year's Gospel/Christian category goes 24-year old singer/songwriter Alan Thomas of Little Rock, Arkansas for his song, "All Things New." Thomas studied percussion at Ouachita Baptist University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 2010. After working in the student ministry at his hometown church and then accepting the position of Associate Worship Leader, Thomas moved to Nashvile to pursue a music career with his former band, The Running Back. Now splitting his time between Arkansas and Nashville, Thomas works to keep music in the forefront of his life while writing, touring, serving, and leading worship. He has recently become the frontman of a new electronic rock project, Canopy Climbers, an independent outfit Thomas created with two other friends--each in different citites. Their music is crafted via cloud sharing, and their new album Miles will be released this year.

Second Place
"Cross Of Love" - Derek Henbest (The Waiting Kind), Phil Wickham - Boise, ID, USA / San Diego, CA, USA

Second Place in the Gospel/Christian category is awarded to "Cross Of Love," written by Boise-based songwriter Derek Henbest of The Waiting Kind and fellow worship artist, Phil Wickham. "Cross Of Love" was the last song penned for The Waiting Kind's self-titled EP, which was released in October of 2011. Formed in 2005, The Waiting Kind is a progressive worship band made up of frontman Derek Henbest and three friends. Co-writer Phil Wickham is a contemporary Christian recording artist from San Diego, California. His latest album, Singalong 2, was released in October of last year. Having previously toured with the likes of Shane & Shane, Leeland, the David Crowder Band and others, Wickman is currently headlining shows across the United States.

Third Place
"Chasing Me" - Joseph Pfeifer, Jimmy Robeson - San Diego, CA, USA

With a previous ISC First Place win in 2009 and Honorable Mention in 2010, songwriter Joseph Pfeifer returns to the competition this year and takes Third Place with "Chasing Me," co-written by Jimmy Robeson. Pfeifer is a singer/songwriter and worship leader from San Diego who began performing and leading others at age 14. After attending a small bible college in the Austrian Alps and years of playing in churches, camps, festivals, coffee shops and other venues, Pfeifer independently released his debut album Good Company in 2010. Also from San Diego, co-writer and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Robeson began writing songs after graduating from Calvary Chapel Bible College in England. After traveling the country pursuing and performing his music, he released his debut album You Are There in 2007, with his sophomore album Heaven Resounds released in 2011. Robeson currently serves as a worship leader to Emmanual Faith Community Church and spends much of his time writing.

In addition to these winners, nine other deserving Gospel/Christian songs garnered Honorable Mentions within the category:

"Lord Have Mercy" - Brady Toops, Mia Fieldes - Nashville, TN "Sing A New Song" - Colin Bernard - Ottawa, ON, Canada "Bless Your Name" - Colonel Robbins, Michael Williams, Andy Wilson (Living Proof) - Nashville, TN, USA "Live Like You're Free" - Dan Macaulay - Williamsville, NY, USA "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" - Emmanuel Carlos St. Omer - Castries, St. Lucia "Hold Me Close" - Joel Chang (Alina Aminova) - Kingston, Jamaica "Here It Goes" - Lydia Brittan - Clarksburg, WV, USA "God Believes" - Markus Rill - Wuerzburg, Germany "Love" - Wayne V. Rachel (Love Rain) - Sallisaw, OK, USA

Applauded for its high caliber of judges, ISC compiled a stellar panel of judges for the 2012 competition, including:

Recording Artists: Jeff Beck; Nas; Tom Waits; Bernie Taupin; Martina McBride; Duran Duran; Janelle Monae; Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks; Robert Smith (The Cure); Bruce Hornsby; Suzanne Vega; Michael W. Smith; Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC); Mark Foster (Foster The People); Alejandro Sanz; Gerald Casale (Devo); Bill Evans; Anthony Hamilton; Brian Setzer; Avicci; Wynonna; Keane; Jeremy Camp; Tegan & Sara; McCoy Tyner; Ketch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show); Francesca Batistelli; Craig Morgan; James Cotton; Robert Earl Keen; Black Francis (The Pixies); John Mayall; Anoushka Shankar; Chris Hillman (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers); Toots Hibbert (Toots & The Maytals); Los Temerarios; Billy Currington; Sandra Bernhard; Basement Jaxx; and Matt Thiessen (Relient K)

Industry Executives: Dan McCarroll (President, Capitol/Virgin Label Group); Monte Lipman (President, Universal Republic Records); Alison Donald (Co-President, Columbia Records UK); Ed Vetri (President, Wind-Up Records); Richard Stumpf (President, Imagem Music US); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); Albert Schilcher (VP Music & Music Mktg, MTV International); Angel Carrasco (Sr. VP A&R, Latin America, Sony/BMG); Dan Storper (President, Putamayo World Music Records and Putumayo Kids); Steve Smith (VP of A&R, Aware Records); Cory Robbins (Founder/President, Robbins Entertainment); Lori Tieg (VP of Talent, VEVO); Dr. Demento (Radio Host, The Dr. Demento Show); Steve Lillywhite (Producer); Kim Buie (Head of A&R, Thirty Tigers); Douglas C. Cohn (Sr. VP, Music Marketing & Talent, Nickelodeon); Allison B. Jones (VP of A&R, Big Machine Label Group); Jack Vaughn (VP, Comedy Central Records); Leib Ostrow (Founder/CEO, Music For Little People); and Jamie Masada (Owner, Laugh Factory)

Sponsors include: Presonus, Lowden, Marshall Amplification, Celebrity Access, Solid State Logic, Berklee College Of Music, Mrs. Fields Cookies, Airplay Direct, DiscMakers, Thayers,, The Music Business Registry, Independent Mastering, Indie Venue Bible, George Stein, Esq., Sonicbids, Songtrust, and Taxi

ISC is now accepting entries for 2013. Go to for more information and an entry form.


For more info on Brandon Heath visit the JFH Artists Database.


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