ReverbNation Songwriting Competition… Runners-up

ReverbNation Competition…Runners-Up
ReverbNation Competition…Runners-Up

The best of the rest (left to right): Reuben Bidez, Fly By Midnight, Sweet Sweet, Jael Johnson
 and Casey Leigh

Our magazine presented the best. Now we’re giving you the finest of the rest, as we profile the five runners-up

Having brought the stellar talents of winner Jerry Williams to your attention in the latest edition of our digital magazine, we felt it just wouldn’t be fair to give you just one example of the brilliant songwriters who entered our competition with ReverbNation. They may not have taken the top gong, but the five superb artists below all came darn close to getting there and they caused quite the tizzy in the Songwriting office in doing so. We are delighted to bring you the runners-up from the ReverbNation Songwriting competition. We hope you enjoy them even more than we did.

Jael Johnson

Location: Seattle, WA
Style: Acoustic indie
Releases: Everything You Need (single), Unconditional (single), Stay (EP), Islands (EP), and Sistine Chapel (LP)

While we were taken by the tumbling melodies of Jael Marie Johnson’s Sybil, which are reminiscent of Radiohead’s Talk Host, it was her strident vocal that had us hooked. It’s no surprise that the Seattle songwriter should be possessed of a powerful voice, she spent her formative years singing in her school and church choirs.

Though the later didn’t impact directly on her songwriting, Johnson is clear that her faith does play a role. As she explains: “I would say that spirituality and faith plays a huge role in my life thus affecting everything I do, including the things I choose to write about.”

She’s currently majoring in Elementary Education. However, it’s clear that if Jael Marie Johnson chooses to a career in music as her path, she has the talent to reach the light at the end of the road.

Reuben Bidez

Location: Nashville, TN.  Originally from Atlanta, GA.
Style: 1970s-style folk rock
Releases: Learning To Love You (single), Turning To Wine (EP)

Having grown-up on a diet of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, the extravagantly named Reuben Bidez (full name Reuben Richard Rene Victor Fuller Bidez) finds himself making music that wouldn’t sound out place as a George Harrison b-side.

It’s not quite what you’d expect from a songwriter who calls Nashville his home. However, despite this, Bidez has taken some important lessons from the home of country and applied them to his songwriting. As he says: “I have definitely learned a lot from the songwriting of country music. No words go to waste.  Everything points to a nice and neat finish that makes you laugh or cry.”

We were huge fans of his song, Holding On and think that it those of you with a fondness for folk-rock will find an early summer favourite in Reuben Bide.

Fly By Midnight

Location: Staten Island NY

Style: Retro pop
Releases: Vinyl (single), Karaoke (single), Brooklyn (single). Party Favors (EP) is expected to drop late summer

Mike Batt at French House Party 2024

Comprised of youthful New York residents Justin Bryte & Slavo (aged 23 and 22 respectively), Fly By Midnight may describe themselves as retro-pop, but they make music that is very much of the here-and now.

Having featured on MTV’s Dream Bigger, childhood Backstreet Boy fan Bryte was introduced to The Emergence Music Group’s producer Slavo in 2015. After writing their first single, Brooklyn “just for the hell of it,” the duo still don’t have a set format for writing music. As Slavo explains: “Sometimes it starts with a groove I’ll come up with late into the night. Other times it’s as simple as being on tour with just an acoustic guitar.”

It might be stretching it to get to a Backstreet Boy level of fame, but we’re predicting that the duo will achieve the success that the glistening pop displayed on Vinyl most assuredly deserves.

Sweet Sweet

Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

Style: Indie Folk/Americana
Releases: Color (single), In Tandem (EP)

Songwriting’s Reverbnation competition is not the first time Myrtle Beach’s Sweet Sweet (Jeremy Dunham and Kerrine Gifford) have seen their crisp indie folk/Americana recognised, with their EP, In Tandem, nominated for the 2016 IMEA Award, Folk Album of the Year.

Though, not ones to rest on their laurels, the pair were understandably pleased, confessing: “it was quite an honor. We were a bit surprised because the album is our first effort. It definitely gave us an early sense of accomplishment but, we have a lot more music to make.”

In Tandem features Cellars And Closets. It was the track that had us purring and after hearing it’s sweet melodies and soaring harmonies we can understand precisely why Dunham and Gifford caught the ears of the IMEA team. We’re sure that you’ll be taken with Sweet Sweet too.

Casey Leigh

Location: Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Style: Soul/R&B with an African twist
Releases: Don’t Walk Away (single), Catch 22 (LP)

2013 might seem like an awfully long time ago now. But for Casey Leigh it probably seems like yesterday. Time will do that when you’ve released a No 3 charting single, and that’s just what Leigh did four years ago.

If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention, Leigh also saw the title track of her album, Catch 22, selected as the BBC as song of the week. Speaking of that success she says: “After having it selected the BBC were really passionate about the track and really supported my next moves.”

It’s no surprise to us that the BBC were so fond of Catch 22. It’s upbeat rhythms and twinkling melodies are the perfect backdrop to Leigh’s graceful and powerful voice, one that recalls the bombastic appeal of Beyoncé and Amy Winehouse. If soulful R&B is your thing then Casey Leigh could be your favourite discovery of 2017.

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