Bolton Musician wins international songwriting competition

Video of James Holt performing his winning song at Liverpool's Cavern Club

A singer-songwriter from Bolton has won the first International Song for Kindness Contest. 

James Holt’s song, 'Make My Day', was judged as the world’s best new song of hope and optimism, beating 1562 entries from 18 countries and nine other finalists.

Inspired by John Lennon’s global hit and peace anthem, 'Imagine', the international charity started the search on what would have been John's 80th birthday.

The final was held exactly a year later in Liverpool's Cavern club, the venue that he and the other Beatles made famous.

James Holt with Molly Becker at the John Lennon statue Credit: James Holt

James featured in ITV Granada's Introducing Series in March 2019, which showcases the region's best musical talent.

He will now have his song professionally produced, mixed and mastered by record producer and head of TUFF Music, Daniel Xander at Liverpool’s Motor Museum studio known for the likes of Oasis, The Arctic Monkeys, Ben Howard and Jake Bugg.

James, who's 28, was accompanied on vocals by his friend 20-year-old Molly Becker, a student at the Royal Northern College of Music.

James Holt with Molly Becker who's studying at the Royal Northern College of Music

Long championed by music industry giants such as legendary producer Brian Eno, and with a voice reminiscent of John Lennon himself, James has had sell out shows at the Deaf Institute in Manchester and Hope & Anchor in London.

He has also supported The Slow Readers Club on tour before lockdown. James was born with a profound hearing loss and wears specially designed hearing aids.

He says his 'deafness is part of him and has had a big influence on his character'.

He lives on an idyllic farm in Bolton and writes, records and produces all of his own music.

His dream is to play with one of his musical heroes Sir Paul McCartney.

“Kindness is actually a difficult subject to get across and what it means to people. I wanted to draw on that experience that almost everyone has and which has been sadly absent for so many during the pandemic.” 

Jonny Fowlds from Wallasey, in Wirral, accompanied by his wife on keyboards for his song, 'In the End', written during the first Covid-19 lockdown was highly commended, with the simple message of looking after each other.

And there was also a special award for Tony McCaldon from Liverpool for the outstanding performance on the night for his song: ‘You can always come home’.

Next year the newly-named Liverpool International Songwriting contest will be hosted by Reykjavík, Iceland.

There was a live link up during the Liverpool competition when the baton, in the form of a microphone from 1961 that the Beatles actually used, was passed over.

The song contest has been supported by Liverpool City Council, The Mayor of Liverpool, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Strawberry Field and the Cavern club. was founded by Anna Prior and Dr Talwar in 2011 to empower young people, vulnerable and disengaged communities through music, sport and the arts.