The back stories and sounds for generations of hits
By Alex Shelton
The sounds of some of the biggest hits in country, gospel and bluegrass music will resonate through the streets of Gatlinburg when the Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival comes to town August 19–23. The festival will feature over 130 acts of songwriters and musicians who have shaped the top Billboard charts for generations, as well as those just getting started in the music industry.
Headliners at this year’s festival are Stella Parton of the legendary Parton Family and Benjy Gaither, son of Bill and Gloria Gaither, Scott Reeves from the ABC hit TV show, “Nashville,” and a specially-ticketed performance from 10-year-old singing sensation Emi Sunshine, featured at The Grand Ole Opry, the “Today” show and currently on tour in the US. Stella Parton will perform in a Songwriters Round “One More Day” with Bobby Tomberlin and “Three Wooden Crosses” with Kim Williams at Three Jimmy’s Eatery.
The event, now in its fourth year, not only offers over 100 free concerts to music lovers who want to come and hear their favorite songs performed by the musicians who originally wrote them, but it also provides aspiring artists and songwriters the chance to participate in co-writing events, songwriting workshops and critiquing sessions with Hall of Fame songwriters.
“This really is a music event unlike any other in the Southeast,” said festival director and founder, Cyndy Montgomery Reeves. “This festival offers the chance for people to come and hear their favorite songs performed by the original writers and learn the back stories and meanings behind the songs. It truly is a personal event with the writers.”
This year’s lineup includes several hit songwriters, including Country Music Hall of Fame writer, Kim Williams, who has written hit songs for Garth Brooks, George Strait, Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire, Mark Nesler, writer of “Just to See You Smile” performed by Tim McGraw, Danny Wells, writer of “Check Yes or No” performed by George Strait, Wil Nance, writer of “She’s Everything” performed by Brad Paisley, Chris Wallin, writer of “Don’t Blink” performed by Kenny Chesney, Bobby Tomberlin, writer of “One More Day” performed by Diamond Rio, Steve Dorff, writer of “I Cross My Heart” performed by George Strait and Tony Mullins, writer of “How Forever Feels” performed by Kenny Chesney. Those are just a few of the many songwriters performing at this year’s festival.
Official sponsors for the 2015 Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival are Sugarlands Distilling Company, The Historic Gatlinburg Inn, Crystelle Creek Restaurant & Grill, WIVK-FM 107.7, Sound Biscuit Productions, Smoky Mountain Money Savers, Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bose, The Comedy Barn, Highland Brewing Company, Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery, Cabins of the Smoky Mountains and Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill.
Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival takes place from August 19–23. For more information, or to find the complete schedule of live performances and workshops, visit smswf.com.