⇣  SONGDOOR WINNERS  ⇣

2020



GRAND AWARD WINNER

James Kelso

Iowa, USA

“One Eighty”

Christian Category

Listen to all winning songs below

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See a full list:

2020 Finalists

2020 Honorable Mentions

Past Grand Award Winners

All Winners 2006-2019


SongDoor 2020 Winner

JAMES KELSO

James Kelso, Songwriter

“One Eighty"

Catch James’ amazing talent at a local show, or pick up his five-song EP which was released last November. You can stream his music on Apple, YouTube, Pandora and Amazon Music. Please visit his website for more information.


From Jason Blume, international hit writer and SongDoor judge:

"You grabbed me with the opening line and never let go. Your rhymes are fresh; your melody is memorable; I think this could be a very successful song. This is some seriously exceptional writing and I wish you well-deserved success. Bravo!"

ABOUT JAMES KELSO

Even though he’s an experienced songwriter, James had no interest in pursuing the life of a recording artist until God spoke clearly at the 2019 Gospel Music Association's Immerse Songwriting Conference. It was there he heard the Spirit say, "James, you are supposed to sing these songs that you have been writing.” Kelso released his first single in 2019 and a five-song EP in 2020 in response to that calling.

James' music is heavily influenced by country, pop, and CCM—as well as his 20 years as a worship leader—but his eclectic taste in music brings influence from many other genres. His music is most notably defined by meaningful lyrics wrapped in strong melodic hooks. A storyteller at heart, each song takes the listener on a journey, often through pain and struggle, to the hope of the gospel.

James is a happily married father of four boys. He comes from a musical family with strong musical roots but admits to being completely non-musical much of his life. He couldn’t sing and unsuccessfully tried to learn instruments in his youth. It wasn’t until he surrendered his life to Christ at age 21 that God began to pull his musical gifts out of him in incredible ways.

James was named the 2015 AOCS Songwriter of the Year and SongDoor’s 2020 Grand Award Winner. While James is not defined by these awards, but rather by his identity in Christ, each award has led to open doors. Though he does not know where these doors will ultimately lead, James is committed to walking through each one as he pursues God’s clear calling on his life.

About his winning song: "This song is about the journey from addiction to recovery, through the power of Jesus. It is told from the perspective of one who has watched their life burn down because of their addiction, then experienced God’s redemption.

"It was written after I attended a celebration event for a local organization called 'One Eighty’ that ministers to the vulnerable in our community. My hope is that the song can be an anthem of hope, helping people at the beginning of that redemption story to believe that it can come true in their lives, and giving those who have experienced that grace a way to tell their story."

We are so honored to welcome James to our roster of Grand Award winners and can't wait to see what God has in store for him and his wonderful music!

photos: Talia Davis/CREATE Multimedia Studio


⇣  CATEGORY WINNERS  ⇣

2020


CHRISTIAN

JAMES KELSO

IOWA, USA

“One Eighty"

COUNTRY

J. YESSIAN/ D. DIXON/T. GOULD

CALIFORNIA, USA

“Under My Roof"

HARD ROCK/ALT-ROCK

LOUIS F. CATE

VIRGINIA, USA

“Not 4 The Life Of Me"

INSTRUMENTAL

CHRIS FOX

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

“Funkatology"

POP

JUSTINA SHANDLER

CALIFORNIA, USA

“Taking Back My Love"

SOFT ROCK/ALT-FOLK

KATE MAGUIRE

MARYLAND, USA

“Just One Step"