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Clayton Anderson and James Johnston Take Home Top Honours At Unsigned Only Music Competition

Unsigned Only is now accepting entries for the 2023 competition.

The winners of the US-based Unsigned Only Music Competition have been announced – including those in country music. A total of 12 country artists garnered wins in the 2022 competition.

Established in 2012, Unsigned Only has become an important source for discovering new talent and acts as a benchmark for excellence in the arena of contemporary music. Winners were selected from almost 7,000 entries from all over the world by a judging panel of high-profile music artists and industry experts. More than $150,000 in cash and prizes is awarded to a total of 38 winners, including $20K (US) in cash to the Grand Prize winner. The winning songs can be heard at

Taking home First Place in the country category is Clayton Anderson for Let Me Go. A Bedford, IN native but currently living in Nashville, Anderson is a product of his upbringing: a hard-working, salt of the earth, country singer/songwriter from the heartland – and loaded with talent.

His story is one that started in the Midwest but moved to Music City, USA and beyond. From winning Kenny Chesney’s ‘Next Big Star’ battle of the bands to opening for many of country music’s luminaries to headlining tours, Anderson has also landed high-profile placements for a string of singles. He recently released a new album, Made In The USA, his most introspective album yet. The album includes his winning song Let Me Go, which recounts the stunning shock of heartbreak; the accompanying video was recently released as a CMT World premiere.

Second Place is awarded to James Johnston (Wingham, NSW, Australia) for Raised Like That. A fast-rising star in his home country of Australia, Johnston first became known to his fans through his appearance on Australian Idol. A subsequent trip to Nashville fuelled his musical passion, and in 2021 he released his debut single Raised Like That which tells the story of community, integrity, and a celebration to a way of life of people who grow up in a small close-knit community. It became a multi-platform hit and is the fastest ever debut single by an Australian-based country artist to reach one million streams.

The song peaked at #1 on the Countrytown Hot 50 Country Airplay Chart and #4 on the Australian Independent chart. It was certified gold in Australia last year, and in doing so, Johnston became the first independent country artist to achieve this milestone in more than 20 years. Johnston is also the winner in Unsigned Only’s special promotion, Get Published.

Over the years, Unsigned Only has honoured many other great country artists, including Grammy nominee Ingrid Andress, the competition’s Grand Prize winner in 2016. Since then, she has gone on to become one of country music’s most respected and venerated new country artists. About winning Unsigned Only, Andress said, “You always hear about this happening to other people, but I never thought it would happen to me. It’s such an amazing and rare opportunity to have people care about you and your music. It’s very inspiring to feel supported by an organization (Unsigned Only) who just want you to do well because of your music ability and your love for your art.”

“Hopefully these winners will achieve the same kind of success as Ingrid Andress. They are already making their mark on the country music landscape,” said Unsigned Only founders Candace Avery and Jim Morgan. “Their authenticity and talent exemplify exactly what country music fans are looking for, and we are so pleased to honour them and their remarkable artistry.”

The overall 2022 Grand Prize is awarded to the multi-talented, up-and-coming rapper Tia P. Hailing from Inglewood, CA, she is also a skilled singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and drummer. Influenced by artists such Missy Elliott, Lauren Hill, and Pharrell Williams, she is the voice of a new generation embodied in the soul of the old. 

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