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Twenty-year-old Kira Dawn wins Wyoming’s 6th annual Singer-Songwriter Competition in Ten Sleep

Kira Dawn
Kira Dawn is a singer-songwriter from Lyman and is currently an English major and music minor at the University of Wyoming. She won this year's Wyoming Singer-Songwriter competition in Ten Sleep.

Kira Dawn is a musician from Lyman, a small town east of Evanston with a population of just over 2,100 people. She’s only been writing her own songs for about a year, but she just won the state’s Singer-Songwriter competition in Ten Sleep over Labor Day weekend.

Dawn also took home the top song award for her unreleased song “Straight and Narrow” and tied for the top singer-songwriter audience vote award.

The 20-year-old is an English literature major and music minor at the University of Wyoming. Dawn said she never could have imagined this path for herself when she was growing up when school band or choir were the only obvious musical outlets.

“I just didn't know that you were just allowed to pick up a guitar and put your feelings in a song – I think that creating more visibility for that is going to be an awesome thing for everybody in Wyoming,” she said.

Dawn grew up in musical theater and currently gets most of her inspiration from reading, which she said is how she spends about 90 percent of her time. She classifies her music as indie folk with a strong country influence, but said lots of people call it pop. Either way, she said the more melancholy the music – the better.

“I just love heart-wrenching, really sad music,” she said. “That’s my thing.”

The singer-songwriter cited pop phenomenon Taylor Swift and indie superstar Phoebe Bridgers as two of her biggest creative influences.

Dawn qualified in Lander in later July to compete in the competition’s semifinal round in Ten Sleep, then made her way into the finals round despite some stiff competition. She said the competition was a great opportunity to hear from and connect with other Wyoming artists.

“It's cool when it's people with the shared experience of being from Wyoming and spending their time here. It is a unique experience to, I think, the rest of planet Earth,” she said.

Dawn’s song “Ghost Town” tied for 3rd top song at the competition and took home 3rd place for top audience favorite song. Teton-based artist Henry Pepin took 2nd place and Fremont county’s Rob Weimann came in 3rd, after winning the competition in 2019.

The singer-songwriter won the $5,000 top cash prize from event sponsor Wyoming Whiskey, as well as a day of studio recording time at Harmonyx Audio in Casper. Dawn and other competition winners will participate in a five-day Wyoming Singer-Songwriter tour this fall, and will also have the chance to perform at Wyoming and Colorado festivals next summer, including Whatfest, FoCoMX, and the Wyoming State Fair.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.

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