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The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and CMT have honored the song “Plain White Tee,” written by Matt Casey, Keith Dozier, and David Wagner with the Grand Prize in the 2013 NSAI Song Contest Presented by CMT. The song was one of a total of 2,000 entries. Casey, Dozier and Wagner will receive mentoring sessions with singer/songwriter/actor Paul Williams and songwriter Brett James. Other prizes include meetings with major Nashville music publishers as well as a year of national and regional media exposure, tickets to the 2014 CMT Music Awards, an Apple iPad, and more. The CMT Listeners’ Choice Award in this year’s contest went to “Like He Did For Her” composed by Rachel Hutcheson and Nick Foxer. Fans cast more than 274,450 online ballots at, and 33 percent chose “Like He Did For Her” over the other nine finalists. This year’s Lyric Only Winner is “Whiskey Misery,” written by Pamela Talley-Parker. Pamela earned a mentoring session with NSAI’s “Songwriter of the Decade” (1990-1999), Tom Shapiro, as well as additional prizes. Additionally, Dozier, Hutcheson and Foxer will perform during this year’s Tin Pan South, slated for March 25-29.


Press: MVSF 2013

The Martha’s Vineyard Songwriter’s Festival touches down on the Island this September for the third year. Previously promoted and hosted by BMI, this year the country music festival has been organized by New England to Nashville (NETN), a group founded in 2012 by Matt Casey. The event includes a songwriting workshop on Sept. 14 and 15 and a concert at Flatbread on Sept. 14. “I didn’t grow up listening to country music,” said Mr. Casey, who lives in Boston. “I became interested in it when I was able to travel to Nashville for my work, and I was able to learn how the music is made. It’s a very collaborative process.” When Mr. Casey isn’t promoting or writing country music he runs a website called Hiremagnet that includes a few specific branches such as CampusRN, geared toward grads looking for nursing jobs. Mr. Casey returned from Nashville with a desire to write country songs and work with other musicians. It started small, two or three people meeting once a week to workshop, and then grew by word of mouth. “Most of the people come from a different genre — bluegrass, folk, rock — and become interested in the Nashville style of writing,” he said. Songwriter Will Robinson will join Mr. McCormick at the festival. NETN provides a community for New England country musicians, or musicians with New England ties, to find their way into the Nashville scene, Mr. Casey said. The group works closely with NSAI, the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International. The workshops will be hosted by Mr. Casey at his family’s Island home. Established songwriters Jim McCormick, Brian Mahar and Will Robinson will join instructors Steve Bloch and Steve Seskin during the weekend retreat. The emerging musicians, referred to as the “young guns” by Mr. Casey, will both attend the workshops and perform at the Flatbread event. Many of these younger musicians have transported their lives to Nashville in order to pursue their musical careers. “It’s tough,” said Mr. Casey. “There are so many people trying to do it. But even for someone like me, who has a different job and a life, and can only make it down a couple of times a year, it’s a very welcoming environment.” NETN provides connections to hit songwriters and people with experience in the business, but “you have to earn your stripes,” Mr. Casey said. “These songwriters may be willing to sit down and work with you, but they want to see you put your time in.” Everyone is a writer in Nashville, Mr. Casey explained. “That’s how you meet people, that’s how you get your name out there. You have to be willing to write. And if you’re committed, you can work your way into better writing rooms.” Workshop attendees have the opportunity to work with experienced songwriters and to get their work seen and voices heard. The weekend event will also benefit the Martha’s Vineyard teen center, Alex’s Place, as well as The Alliance for Children, an international adoption agency and charitable foundation run by Mr. Casey’s mother, Filis Casey. Mr. Casey sees the event as helping these organizations as much as it is an opportunity for budding songwriters. New England to Nashville begins off-Island in Boson with a concert at Church in Boston on Thursday, Sept. 12. On Friday the artists come to the Vineyard for a Friday night barbecue then the workshops begin on Saturday and the evening concert at Flatbread starts at 7 p.m. There is also a Red Sox game planned and some more one-on-one song critiques in Boston. Mr. Casey offers a discounted rate to Island residents who are interested in attending the off-Island events. “My friends thought that I was crazy when I first told them I wanted to write country songs,” Mr. Casey laughed. “Two weeks ago, 102.5 (Boston’s country music station) surpassed Kiss 108 as the number one station in Boston. Country has really taken off. So I went from people scratching their heads about my wanting to go to Nashville, to getting asked if I can get them tickets to country shows.” – See more at: Martha’s Vineyard Gazette