UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year 2016 Winner Announced

Launched by the Songwriting Academy, the ‘ UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year 2016′ competition which raised money for Nordoff Robbins, has announced its winner.  

Gracie Falls, aged 25, from Rugby, beat three other talented finalists – who were selected from twelve live heats held around the country – to battle for the accolade at a spellbinding final at The Piano Works, London. Her win was down to her flair for writing songs with a natural ease and autobiographical touch; she blends memorable melodies, emotive music and poignant, relatable lyrics.

The three other talented finalists were Emma Hughes, Alexandra Jayne and Emma Ballantine – all deemed by the judges to have a special gift for songwriting. Emma Ballantine, aged 30, originally from Salisbury, was tipped by Glamour Magazine as ‘One to Watch in 2016’ and has featured in Q and on BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music. Emma Hughes, aged 20, originally from Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, is a student studying at King’s College, London. Emma’s talent has been recognised by local media and her beautiful song ‘Baby’ was featured on the BBC’s Introducing Beds, Herts and Bucks radio show. Alexandra Jayne, aged 24, originally from the Shropshire countryside, is a distinctive songwriter with a soulful and powerful voice. Alexandra has been gigging since she was 15 years old and has supported established performers such as James Blunt.

The panel of music industry doyens judging the final included Chris Neil – a multi platinum music producer and songwriter, who has produced records for artists including Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Mike & The Mechanics and Cher, and Luc Floreani – an international singer songwriter and manager who has worked with artists including Amy Winehouse, Corrine Bailey Rae, Sam Smith, Blake and Kasabian. 

The judging panel also comprised Pablo Ettinger from Caffè Nero, Peter Ross representing Yamaha and Martin Sutton, The Songwriting Academy.

As the winning songwriter Gracie Falls received over £6,000 worth of prizes, including a twelve-month mentoring programme with The Songwriting Academy, £1,000 worth of Yamaha musical instruments and the opportunity to have a song recorded in Nashville.  Gracie will also tour Caffè Nero stores and have her playlist aired at the coffee house, culminating in a live performance on the Caffè Nero stage at the Cornbury Festival 2017.

Launched by The Songwriting Academy, Caffè Nero and Yamaha, The UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year competition marks the first time the songwriter is the star, not the singer. The competition not only seeks to support up and coming songwriters but as well as raising money for Nordoff Robbins also raised funds for Stand Up to Cancer. 

Martin Sutton, at The Songwriting Academy, which has organized the competition, said: “We are delighted for Gracie Falls.  Behind every hit song there are talented songwriters, often unrecognised and unknown to the public. We wanted to put songwriters in the spotlight where they belong as well as support these great charities – we’ve discovered some inspiring talent in the process and are looking forward to working towards an even bigger and better event in 2017.’’

Caffè Nero stores hosted 12 live heats throughout the country in the lead up to the Semi and Grand Finals and it involvement with the new competition forms part of almost 20 years of supporting young artists in music. Paul “Pablo” Ettinger, one of the founding team at Caffè Nero and jazz musician, says: “Music has always been critical to the Caffè Nero experience and supporting grassroots talent is fundamental to our brand values. Passenger and Jack Savoretti are just two examples of musical talent that we were delighted to give early breaks to, by inviting them to perform in and tour our stores nationwide, so we were also thrilled to be involved with The Songwriting Academy’s UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year Competition”.

Robert Webster, Director of Yamaha’s Pro Music Division, states: “I’m delighted to support the good causes that have benefited from this competition and help as yet undiscovered UK songwriting talent to develop. Access to Yamaha professional instruments and equipment will guarantee the great songs that emerge sound even better and we loved hosting the last semi-final at Yamaha Music London on 18th October!”

See for details on The UK Unsigned Songwriter Competition and Grand Final on Sunday 30th October at Piano Works in Farringdon, London.