A local singer-songwriter just won a big contest from one of YouTube’s most popular music channels.
YouTube channel GemsOnVHS shares live, intimate and off-stage field recordings of folk musicians and songwriters. Each year, they host their Gems in the Rough contest, where musicians from all over the world can submit their songs. Songs go through multiple rounds of voting from the channel, Patreon supporters and the listening public.
Last week, Jordan Smart, a Ludlow-based folk musician, was named the winner of the 2023 Gems in the Rough Contest. Out of over 1,000 submissions — the most in the contest's history — Smart's song, "Apple Don’t Fall,” reigned supreme.
“The songwriters hit the campaign trail, and many great folks shared their songs with the community. One person strode through the melee fully intact at the end; Jordan Smart. He played a song that captivated us all,” GemsOnVHS wrote in the description of their announcement video.
“The musicianship, the sheer humanity in the writing, and the beautiful performance of it all, it was clear Jordan had something to say. He won, and this was the result. This won't be the last time we meet Jordan, and his adorable little family.”
As a prize for winning, Smart received a guitar from Gold Tone. When GemsOnVHS' Anthony Simpkins asked Smart why he chose that instrument, Smart replied. “My daughter chose it … She picked the one I wanted. When I asked her what I should get, she chose this and I said, ‘That’s very nice.’”
On his website, Smart describes his songs as echoing between John Fahey’s fingerpicking patterns and Bob Dylan-esque vocals of Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth. Part of the folk revivalist movement, Smart’s songs contain a level of sincerity and heart that set him apart from other aspiring folk musicians.
You can listen to Smart on Spotify or listen to his winning song, "Apple Don’t Fall," below:
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