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First love
Locals song a CMT contest finalist
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Fans are encouraged to visit or go directly to the voting page.
On Jan. 14, Covington resident, singer and emerging songwriter Cindi Hall was sitting at her desk at C.P. Richard's Construction Company when she received a call on her cell phone from Dave Petrelli, director of events with NSAI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International. After asking how her day was going, he said, "I'm about to make it better."

Hall and co-writer friend Derek Toomey entered the CMT (Country Music Television) Listeners' Choice Award contest in November 2009. Out of 2,000 entries, their song, "Your First" made the top 10.

"I was shocked and happy all at the same time," said Hall as she realized music industry professionals had chosen their song.

"Your First" speaks to those who have lost their first love. The bridge says, "One of these days you'll embrace that first taste of love and remember how sweet it was."

Hall recently heard from one of her former piano students, a young adult experiencing the heartache of losing her first true love.

"She heard the song through the contest and sent me an e-mail to tell me how much it meant to her and how it brought tears to her eyes," said Hall. "I can honestly tell you that her e-mail thrilled me as much as getting that phone call from NSAI telling me this song made the top 10. Being in this contest is an honor, but knowing the song has impacted another person in this way brings a kind of joy that can't be felt by winning an award or a contest. It's something that happens only by realizing you've made a difference in someone else's life."

Voting began on Jan. 20 and ends Feb. 26. The winner will be announced by April 1. Hall said she is overwhelmed and grateful by the support of friends and family who are voting and posting the link on Facebook.

Hall grew up in a musically talented family with parents, Jean and the late Lloyd Cox, and listened to entertainers Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and George Jones. Hall is an accomplished musician on the piano and guitar.

She attended Radford University and earned a B.A. in music from Averett University, where she studied vocal performance, classical piano and music therapy.

As a child, Hall began to lose patches of her hair and was diagnosed with Alopecia, the medical term for hair loss or baldness. Alopecia Areata is a common condition that does not discriminate. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, it can occur at any age and affects males and females equally. Women with Alopecia Areata are immediately confronted with the drastic change in their appearance, and the implications of this on how they view themselves and how society views them.

Hall struggled with self-esteem when she experienced total hair loss as a married adult at age 25. She dealt with depression and tried to hide herself from people. She soon realized regardless of what people are going to think, she had to overcome depression and doubt.

She and her husband moved to Nashville, and then to Georgia where she lived in Conyers before settling in Covington. Later divorced, Hall was faced with another time of discouragement as she grieved the dissolved marriage.

At age 30, Hall remembered thinking that it was too late to have a career in music. At age 44, Hall looks back at the years she once thought were wasted and talks about all the amazing people God has put in her life.

Hall met friend and producer John Johnson in 1992 and reconnected with him in 2004. Johnson introduced her to Derek Toomey because of their similar writing styles. The two began collaborating in September 2008. Toomey released his first CD in December, "Kiss on the Wind" featuring two songs he and Hall co-wrote.

"John is like a brother to me. He is clearly one of those people who is supposed to be in my life. I can't imagine having done this earlier without them," said Hall thinking of Toomey and Johnson's talent and friendship. "I am a different person now, and hopefully, I'm prepared."

Johnson feels the same way about Hall.

"Cindi has such a pure voice - her voice matches her heart," Johnson said of Hall's talent. "Her song writing is unique and definitely outside of the box, which is the only way you're gonna get noticed in this business. I'm glad she's getting noticed because she deserves it! It's a joy to work with her."

Hall has words of encouragement for anyone with music in their heart.

"For anybody who thinks it's too late for them for whatever they want to do, just start where you are now," recommends Hall. "Look at the people in your life - look at what's in your hand - and be thankful for that. We do have a choice and I think that God does want to fulfill his purpose in us, but it is up to us to do something about it."

Hall's upcoming CD, "Sleepin' with the Window Open" is scheduled for release by mid to late February. For more information, visit