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1st Annual Singing News Songwriter's Search Contest Winner Announced
  SINGING NEWS is pleased to name Daryl Petersheim the winner of the 2008 Singing News Songwriter's Search. This year's contest was comprised of hundreds of entries from non-professional songwriters (defined as never having had an original song on the Top 80 chart and who are not currently under an exclusive publishing contract), in the categories of Southern, Country, and Bluegrass gospel.
    Daryl, a Pennsylvania native, won the event with a song entitled "The Empty Tomb Says It All." The idea for the song came while pondering the notion of a person's life being summed up in several lines and etched upon a tombstone. "Jesus had a stone at His grave," Petersheim said; and had the Jewish custom of that time period been like ours today, he reasoned, "what could they possibly have written on it?" With that thought, a song was born-and quite possibly a new career. "Gospel music has become an important part of my life," said the 29-year-old father of four. "Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated with how songs are written. One of the first things I do when I get a new CD is check to see who the songwriters are."
    Interestingly, as part of the grand prize, Daryl will have the opportunity to meet some of those very writers when he participates in this year's NQC Songwriter's Showcase. He will also receive two tickets to the Singing News Fan Awards, where he and his wife, Renita, plan to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
    Apart from songwriting, Daryl has a full-time job with an excavating company in his small town near Reading. He also enjoys singing lead for the quartet Garment of Praise, of which he has been a member since he was in high school. Reflecting on his win, Daryl commented, "Sometimes God works in ways that you never would have dreamed of."
    The runners-up in the competition are-in alphabetical order-Tanja Cochran, David Cooper, Clint Crawford, Mark Hawkins, Jason Ellsworth and Nick Kitchen.
    Tanja Cochran is a pastor's wife and mother of two who teaches third grade at an elementary school in Buchanan, Georgia. Based on Matthew 13:46, her idea for the song "So Good To Me" came while praying as she drove home from a revival. "During my prayer, God gave me the first verse and chorus of the song. He told me that to Him, I was that pearl of great price. He gave the best He had, His Son, to purchase my salvation."
    David Cooper has played bass for a Bluegrass gospel group called the Kinsmen for 10 years and has written songs for 15. His entry, "Nicodemus," was inspired by what he calls "the colorful picture" of the religious leader seeking out the Lord at night, asking what it meant to be born again. David credits his wife, Pansy, as his greatest inspiration for writing. The couple resides in Conway, South Carolina.
    The idea for Clint Crawford's song, "I Don't Mind Hurting," came while watching his wife care for their daughter. Noting that when Jesus was on the cross, He was more concerned for others than Himself, Clint shares that his wife "mirrors that same love and dedication with disregard for herself." The family hails from Blue Mountain, Miss., where Clint works for the state's Department of Health, coordinating services for children who suffer from developmental delays.
    Mark Hawkins and Jason Ellsworth from Kansas City, Mo., wrote the song "Mountain-Moving God," the only co-written song in the top five. Mark, who formerly served for 12 years as a minister of music, said that the song "was inspired by my desire to paint a portrait of a God filled with awesome power and deliverance." Jason-who grew up in gospel music-gave the song its progressive feel, along with adding another verse, a bridge and the melody.
    Nick Kitchen of Grayson, Ky., candidly admitted that he "entered the contest on a whim." Undoubtedly, he has no regrets about sending in his song, "What Will It Take?" Inspired by someone close to his heart who does not have a relationship with the Lord, Nick said he hopes the song "will bless someone as they listen to it."
    As part of this year's grand-prize package, Daryl's winning song was recently recorded in Nashville by a team comprised of some of the industry's best:
Orchestration: Milton Smith
  Acoustic Guitar: Bryan Sutton
  Lead Guitar: Jeremy Medkiff
  Dobro: Rob Ickes
  Drums & Percussion: Robb Tripp
  Piano & B3 organ: Gary Smith
  Fiddle & Mandolin: Andy Leftwich
  Bass Guitar: Dave Pomeroy
  Baritone Vocals: Johnny Minick
  Tenor Vocals: Jimmy Fortune
  Lead Vocals: Paul Lancaster
  Bass Vocals: Mike Allen
  Les Butler produced the recording, while Terry Thompson served as the engineer.
  To hear the recording of the winning song as sung by this "all star" quartet, click here
  To obtain a copy of the song, contact your local Christian retailer and ask for New Haven Record's CD Singing News Top 10 Songs of 2008, featuring "The Empty Tomb Says It All" as a bonus track.
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