Words & Music Night

44th Annual

Words & Music Night 2023

Each year, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s flagship education program, Words & Music ®: Teach Language Arts Through Songwriting, helps thousands of students put their thoughts, feelings, and ideas into songs. On May 15, 2023, the Museum hosted the 44th annual celebration of Words & Music. School-aged participants and their families gathered in the Museum’s Ford Theater, along with the evening’s host, Sony Music Nashville recording artist Tenille Townes, to hear a selection of thirteen songs written by students in Nashville and surrounding areas. Throughout the night, students performed their Words & Music compositions alongside their professional songwriting partners and classmates.  

Words & Music Night 2023

Selection of Songs from the 2022-2023 School Year 


1. “The Ball over the Wall”
Student Songwriter: Kylee Farmer
Professional co-writer: Michelle Pereira

2. “Too Hot for Me”
Student Songwriter: Nora Arender
Professional co-writer: Mason Caviness

3. “The Stump”
Student Songwriter: Connor Johnson
Professional co-writer: Jerry Vandiver

4. “Evil Orthodontist”
Student Songwriter: Harry Dowdell
Professional co-writer: Chris Moyse

5. “The Three Stars of Tennessee”
Student Songwriter: Henry Eden
Professional co-writer: Anne Buckle

6. “Left Alone”
Student Songwriter: Haydn Casler
Accompanied by: Eddy Hay and Cooper Eltringham

7. “Black Woman in the USA”
Student Songwriter: Jahnae Hardnett
Accompanied by: Haydn Casler, Eddy Hay, and Cooper Eltringham

8. “Finding My Voice”
Student Songwriter: Riley Moran
Professional co-writer: Claire Wyndham

9. “En el Parque”
Student Songwriter: Yeraldin Hernandez
Professional co-writers: Rachel Rodriguez and John Prestia

10. “Je Suis”
Student Songwriter: Junior Garcia
Professional co-writer: Paulina Jayne

11. “Once Upon a Time”
Student Songwriters: Westmeade Elementary School Chorus
Student Performers: Nancy Baker, Perry Carranza, and John Griffith
Professional co-writer: Mia Rose Lynn

12. “Find Your Spark”
Student Songwriter: Ava McAfee
Professional co-writer: Jennie Hayes Kurtz

13. “Song Block”
Student Songwriter: Ugo Eze
Professional co-writer: Ellen Angelico

Songwriter Bios

Listed in order of performance.

Tenille Townes is a 15-time Canadian Country Music Association Award winner, a two-time JUNO Awards Country Album of the Year winner, and a two-time Academy of Country Music award winner. She is also the first female artist in Mediabase Canada history to achieve two #1 singles for “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)” and “Somebody’s Daughter.” Townes has opened for artists such as Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, George Strait and Keith Urban. She has also toured extensively in Australia, Ireland and Germany, as well headlined sold-out shows in the U.K. Her international touring efforts earned her a nomination for the Country Music Association’s International Artist Achievement Award.

Michelle Pereira is a singer-songwriter born and raised outside of Toronto, Ontario. She has performed at various iconic venues around Nashville, including the Bluebird Cafe, the Listening Room, 3rd and Lindsley, EXIT/IN and City Winery. In March of 2019, Michelle was selected to be a part of ASCAP’s 2019 GPS (Guidance from Publishers for Songwriters) program. In February 2020, she won the Bluebird Cafe Golden Pick contest for best original song.

Mason Caviness is a singer-songwriter from the west Texas town of Seminole. After learning piano at a young age and teaching himself to play guitar, Mason started writing songs. After high school, he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Professional Music. Mason released his debut EP Something That You Know in July 2016. In 2022, he released two singles, “Music to My Ears” and “Bound to Be,” and won American Songwriter magazine’s grand prize in their Annual Lyric Writing Contest for his song “Long Line of Cars.”

Jerry Vandiver has been a songwriter for Words & Music since 1991. His songs can be heard on countless records, and two are on display on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection of RIAA-certified records. Artists including Lee Greenwood, Lonestar, Barbara Mandrell, Tim McGraw, the Oak Ridge Boys, Phil Vassar, and Gene Watson have recorded songs written by Jerry. When not writing songs, Jerry can be found leading writers’ rounds at the Bluebird Cafe and other venues around Nashville.

Chris Moyse grew up in New England and moved to Nashville in 2013 to pursue a music career. He won the 46th annual Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition and was selected to perform at the 2018 Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival in Texas. He has shared the stage with folk troubadours Joe Ely, Tim O’Brien, and members of Old Crow Medicine Show. Chris released his first full-length album Bitter Ballads & Cynical Prayers in 2020.

Anne Buckle is a descendant of the Carter Family and a Harvard graduate. A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer, she has shared the stage with Charlie Daniels, toured with Augustana, and opened for the Chicks. Anne founded 3 Chords, an organization which teaches songwriting to Nashville’s refugee youth as a way of helping them share their stories. As a songwriter, she has penned songs for dozens of artists including David Archuleta, Jacob Westfall, and Marisa McKaye.

Claire Wyndham is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose music has taken her all around the globe. After achieving success in her native Australia, she moved to Nashville in 2010. She signed a publishing deal in 2013 and found her niche placing songs in film and television. Claire’s songs have been featured on networks like HBO, CBS, NBC, The CW Freeform, and MTV. In 2022, she released an EP Waves with her duo the Lonely Fighters.

Rachel Rodriguez grew up in Michigan and started performing traditional mariachi and country music in her father’s band at a young age. In her own music, she combines her Latino heritage with her rock & roll attitude and soulful voice to produce a unique sound. She released her self-titled album Rachel Rodriguez in 2005 and a bilingual children’s album called Songs for My Little Amigos in 2014. In addition to writing and performing, Rachel teaches Creative Movement & Music in preschools around Nashville.

John Prestia is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer originally from Long Island, New York with roots in Sarasota, Florida before moving to Nashville. He performed as the frontman of the John Prestia Group and was the tour manager for Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, Lucinda Williams. His writing credits include “No One to Run With” recorded by the Allman Brothers Band. John is the guitar tech for Tim McGraw’s band, a position he has held for over twenty years.

Paulina Jayne is an artist and songwriter originally from Detroit, Michigan. She has opened for Sheryl Crow, Sam Hunt, Chris Lane, Old Dominion, and Rascal Flatts. Paulina’s music video for her 2021 release “Drive By” has been featured on CMT. In 2018, Paulina was highlighted in a national Folgers coffee commercial, and her song “Love’s Gonna Always Win” was featured in the Netflix show Top Grier. Paulina is sponsored by Ford Motor Company, and she serves as an ambassador for the national non-profit organization, Miss Amazing, Inc., which empowers girls and women with disabilities.

Mia Rose Lynne is a northern California native now living in Nashville. Her songwriting has been recognized at the 2018 Telluride Troubadour Contest, 2018 Songwriter Serenade, 2018 Wildflower Arts and Music Festival Contest, 2017 Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriter Showcase, and 2017 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Contest. Lynne has released three albums, including her latest album, Magicians Never Tell.

Jennie Hayes Kurtz grew up in Dallas singing in choir and listening to classic country, blues, and jazz. She began writing and performing original music while attending the University of Arkansas. Kurtz started working with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s education team in 2015 and has facilitated or participated in hundreds of Words & Music programs. Kurtz tours around the country with her Americana band, Brother and the Hayes. Their album Tennessee Nights was released in March 2019.

Ellen Angelico is a multi-instrumentalist and session musician. She has played with a variety of artists including Cam, Uncle Kracker, Delta Rae, and Ty Hendron. She and has been featured on numerous records and has played on stages from the Grand Ole Opry to Križanke in Slovenia. Ellen busies herself producing YouTube videos for Fanny’s House of Music and records her own music. Since January 2021, Ellen has served Nashville as a Commissioner on the Metro Nashville Arts Commission.

2022-2023 Participating Schools

Allendale Elementary School
Antioch High School
Arch Academy
Battle Creek Elementary
Battle Ground Academy
Battlefield Elementary
Chapman’s Retreat Elementary School
Charlotte Park Elementary
Christ Presbyterian Academy
Christ the King School
Clarksville High School
Classical Conversations of Goodlettsville
Clovercroft Elementary School
College Grove Elementary
Columbia Academy
Covenant School
Creekside Elementary
Crockett Elementary School
Currey Ingram Academy
Donelson Christian Academy
East Hickman Intermediate School
East Robertson Elementary School
Ensworth School
Erma Siegel Elementary
Franklin Road Academy
Glencliff High School
Grace Christian Academy
Granbery Elementary
Grassland Elementary School
Harding Academy
Harris Middle School
HCA Healthcare
Henry C. Maxwell Elementary
Heritage Elementary School
Hermitage Dance Academy
Holy Trinity Montessori
Hunters Lane High School
John Pittard Elementary School
Julia Green Elementary
Kenrose Elementary School
Knox Doss Middle School at Drakes Creek
L.V. Stockard Middle School
Lakeview Elementary Design Center
Life Time Summer Camp
Lighthouse Christian School
Lincoln County High School
Lipscomb Elementary
Lookout Valley Elementary
McFadden School of Excellence
Mill Creek Elementary School
Mt. Juliet Middle School
Nashville Big Picture High
Nashville Collegiate Prep
Nashville First Baptist Church
Nashville School of the Arts
North Marshall Middle School
Northfield Elementary
Oak Hill School
Portland High School
Prescott South Middle School
Preston Taylor Ministries
Red Bank Elementary
Ruby Major Elementary School
Scales Elementary School
Smith Springs Elementary
Spring Hill High School
Spring Hill Middle School
St. Bernard Academy
St. Joseph School
St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Stanford Montessori Elementary School
Stewarts Creek High School
Sumner Academy
Sunset Elementary
The Covenant School
The Discovery School
Thompson’s Station Middle School
Tom Joy Elementary School
Trinity Elementary School
Tulip Grove Elementary
Una Elementary School
University School of Nashville
W.A. Wright Elementary School
Westmeade Elementary School
Whitthorne Middle School
Winstead Elementary School

Cambewarra Public School, Cambewarra, NSW, Australia
Dreambank, Madison, WI
Explore Up Close, Spartanburg, SC
Fossil Distance Learning Program, Albany, OR
Frankfort Elementary School, Frankfort, MI
Golden Horn Elementary, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
Igloolik High School, Igloolik, Nunavut, Canada
Joelton Elementary School, Joelton, TN
Leslie A. Stemmons Elementary School, Dallas, TX
Marvin Robinson School of Business at Yvonne A. Ewell Technical School, Dallas, TX
Mine Centre, Mine Centre, Ontario, Canada
Nanook School, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
Our Lady of the Way School, Stratton, Ontario, Canada
Ovid Elsie Middle School, Elsie, MI
Piscataquis Community Elementary School, Guilford, ME
Rutland Middle School, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Shelton School and Evaluation Center, Dallas, TX
Sioux Mountain School, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada
St. Mary School, Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada
Susan Gray Head Start, Nashville, TN
Wahoo Elementary, Wahoo, NE
Westchester Country Day School, High Point, NC

About Words & Music

Since 1979, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has helped students tell their stories through its innovative Words & Music program. More than 150,000 students have learned to write song lyrics while developing key skills in language arts. Not only does Words & Music teach core curriculum, but it also connects young people to Nashville’s music community, pairing classes with songwriters who transform student lyrics into finished songs that are performed in an interactive workshop.

Watch Past Words & Music Nights

Words & Music Night 2022
Words & Music Night 2021
Words & Music Night 2020

2022-2023 Words & Music Funders

Words & Music is made possible by the Country Music Association Endowment for Words & Music and is funded in part by American Airlines; Chet Atkins Music Education Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; CMA; CMA Foundation; Dollar General Literacy Foundation; The Memorial Foundation; Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission; Nashville Predators Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; PNC Grow Up Great; and Tennessee Arts Commission.

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