Music in the Rockies Winners Announced

Music in the Rockies Winners Announced
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Shannon Whitson, winner of GMA Artist Solo 2008 and Centricity Music recording development deal. Photos by rosephotography, courtesy of the GMA

The 34th Annual Music in the Rockies announced their winners recently. Shannon Whitson of Estes Park, Colo., Maggie Erickson of Frisco, Texas and Shelly Johnson of Franklin, Tenn. were the big winners of the event held in Estes Park, Colo.

The national competiton held by the GMA Academy is considered one of the Christian and gospel music community’s premier talent competitions for unsigned artists and songwriters.

Past years entrants like “American Idol” champion Jordin Sparks and fellow finalist Chris Sligh, Chris Tomlin, Matthew West and BarlowGirl go on to have very successful music careers.

Hundreds of artist and songwriting contestants from 40 states and six foreign countries competed for grand prizes which included a record development deal with Centricity Music, a “Disney Best of Show” award and performance slot at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World and a Compassion International ministry trip. Also at stake were GMA’s grand prize titles for Artist and Song 2008 and American Bible Society’s new ABS Scripture Song Awards which offered a chance for the winning songs to be produced by a major Christian music recording label.

At the conclusion of the week-long competition held in conjunction with GMA Music in the Rockies’ training and professional development, Shannon Whitson was named GMA’s Artist Solo 2008 for contestants in the 13-24 age category. Centricity Music ( also chose 22-year-old Whitson to receive its recording development deal. Centricity Music, an independent label whose artists include Downhere, Andrew Peterson, Circleslide (previous GMA winner), and Jaime Jamgochian was recently featured in Christianity Today, which described the label as “home to some of the Christian music industry's brightest and best, Centricity Music is a small label on the rise thanks to good old-fashioned techniques like artist development and fan interaction.”

Maggie Erickson was chosen as GMA’s Artist Solo 2008 in the age 25 and up category. She is also the recipient of GMA’s “Disney's Night of Joy Best of Show Award,” which means she will perform at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World, one of the top Christian music events in the country which has sold out the past three years. Erickson will share the billing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., with GMA Dove Award winners tobyMac, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, MercyMe and 12 other artists who will perform Sept. 5-6 at Night of Joy.

23-year-old songwriter Shelly Johnson penned two award-winning songs for the GMA Music in the Rockies songwriting competitions. “The Power of the Cross” was named GMA’s Song of 2008 in the Semi-pro category and American Bible Society recognized her song, “Draw Near” for its top prize in the Semi-pro category. Compassion International (, a Christian child advocacy organization which Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 24 countries, was drawn to Johnson’s ministry emphasis of her music and named her their recipient of the Music & Ministry Experience, an all-expense paid ministry trip to a Compassion International destination.

In addition to Whitson, Erickson and Johnson, winners were also honored in several categories defined by musical style and/or age. These winners, too, receive prizes including personal consultation meetings with music industry executives, free tuition to future GMA events, and several other product prizes. (For a list of winners log on to

GMA Music in the Rockies, which has a rich history of more than 30 years, was held for the final time this August in Estes Park. Over the course of 34 years. Although GMA Music in the Rockies is coming to an end, GMA is excited to announce the launching of a brand new training event in Music City in the summer of 2009! Details coming soon.

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