Guitar Center hosted their second search for “The Next Great American Songwriter,” and two people with Connecticut ties will be performing as finalists for a shot at a grand prize including a national television spot.
Evan Gibb, a New Hartford native now living in Florida, and Cyra Morgan, who splits her time between New York City and Pawcatuck, are both in the running for an A&R deal that would also have them performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Morgan says her selection came as a shock. She’s entered competitions before, but has never been good at self-promotion. “I just put it out there and walked away. So when i got the email saying i was being considered for the final ten, I just kept going back and looking at it, saying ‘Is this for real?’”
Gibb had a similar story, entering after a producer sent him a link to the contest. “At that point, why not, it didn’t hurt and it didn’t cost anything to sign up,” Gibb said from his hotel room in Hollywood. “I did that and actually forgot about it until a couple months later I got and email saying I was being considered for the top ten. It’s been kind of surreal, honestly.”
Growing up in the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Morgan didn’t have much access to a musical education. She was naturally drawn to performing, something her bluegrass musician father fostered. “Since I came out of the womb I’ve been singing, its what I always wanted to do,” Morgan says.
Two years ago Morgan decided to learn guitar with her father’s help. “My issue was I couldn’t play an instrument. I could hear everything in my head, but I just couldn’t get it out. Having to depend on musicians is really difficult, because having to find that chemistry is like dating. You have to find that person who gets you, who gets your vibe. Because my vibe is so minimal, it was a real challenge for me.”
Evan Gibb also credits his father’s musical influence. “All my life we had a guitar in my house. “Right around high school age, my freshman year, was when i started playing myself,” Gibb says. “I started writing songs around sophomore year of high school and just sort of fell in love with it.”
About a year ago, Gibb says it was time for a change of scenery. He moved from New Hartford to the Orlando area. “I had been playing out there for years and hadn’t seen any results or progress. I didn’t know if i wanted to go back to school or pursue the music thing.
“After a couple months of being in Orlando, something started bubbling a little bit. So I decided just to pursue music full time. I’ve been playing bars and restaurants down there for a couple months for a paycheck, then this fell in my lap. So we’ll see, hopefully this will open up some more doors for me in the future.”
The finalists Saturday night, March 2, before a panel of judges in Los Angeles. Each artist gets to perform one original song for a grand prize that includes $10,000, a four-song EP, and a spot on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Just making it as a finalist is a pretty good deal. All ten received a Martin acoustic guitar, a Telecaster, combo amp, four Shure microphones, a Korg PS60 synth, Zoom Q2HD recorder, plus an assortment of other gear.
No matter what happens Saturday night, both musicians say they plan to keep pursuing their musical careers.
Check back for updates on how the two musicians do. Click here for the contest page, and to listen to all ten finalists.