News Release

Student competes in CMT's 'Music City Madness'

Contact: Elise Doster Stolzle


     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University junior Michael Aaron Williams of Hahnville made it to the second round of CMT’s popular singer/songwriter competition Music City Madness.

     The third season of the competition received video submissions from all over the country and the top 64 finalists were announced Oct. 21, 2008. Williams’ original song “Under the Blankets,” a romantic acoustic guitar ballad, was well received by more than 2 million voters who advanced Williams and others to the second round of the competition. 

     The winner of the competition, which was announced Dec. 16, received appearance on CMT’s online show Unplugged, a meeting with recording artist Randy Travis and an audition with Warner Bros. Records.

     Although Williams was eliminated after the second round, New Orleans news channel ABC 26 took notice of Williams’ success and invited him to perform on the morning show “Good Morning, New Orleans” November 2008.

     Williams, a 20-year-old kinesiology major and student worker at Southeastern’s admissions office, began playing the guitar and writing music during his senior year in high school. Williams said he practiced four hours a day to teach himself the instrument and has written more than 100 songs over the past three years.

     “I consider my style to be very eclectic,” said Williams. “I’m somewhere between John Mayer and Dave Mathews but my biggest influence is Elvis Presley because he was so innovative for his time. My grandmother would play Elvis all the time when I was little and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.”

     Williams said most of his songs tend to be heartbreaking, love songs that he strums out on his five guitars, Cheyenne, Daisy, Delaini, Ruby and August.

     “I call my guitars ‘my girls’ because they are the only girls that have ever treated me right,” Williams said. “They have stuck by me through it all.”

     Lori Fairburn, associate director of the office of records and registration at Southeastern, said Williams is very humble about his talents and his success with music.

     “I know Michael’s music is very personal to him,” said Fairburn. “Not everyone can open themselves up and show their vulnerability to the whole world and I admire him for that. Everyone has dreams, but not everyone has Michael’s quiet determination to give those dreams a chance so I say good for him.”

     Williams said he is not discouraged that he did not win and that music gives him more confidence than anything else.

     “I’m normally a very shy guy but if you put a guitar and a microphone in front of me, I totally change.”

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