The sounds of Nashville will hit the shores of Lake Martin next week during the second annual Lake Martin Songwriters Festival. More than 20 successful and highly acclaimed songwriters are scheduled to appear and perform at 15 different venues across the region from July 27-31. Saturday night’s grand finale in downtown Alexander City will feature Thompson Square.
The inaugural event in 2021 drew so much attention and praise from songwriters and patrons that the organizing committee was overwhelmed with writers clamoring to get involved.
“I didn’t expect to get phone calls from such high-profile writers,” says Sandra Fuller, executive director of Tallapoosa County Tourism and one of the organizers. “I’ve been listening to these artists’ hit songs on the radio, and suddenly they’re calling me and asking if they can participate. It’s surreal!
Jamie O’Neal, the writer and artist behind the No. 1 hit singles “There’s No Arizona” and “When I Think of Angels,” is one such artist. Another is Kristen Kelly, who is taking a break from touring with Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and others. The star-studded lineup of songwriters also includes Marla Cannon-Goodman, Heidi Raye and Brian White, among others. Although their names are not recognizable, the artists who recorded their songs include: Rascal Flatts, Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and many other great recording artists.
Blue Foley, Grammy-nominated author of Ashley McBryde’s ‘Never Will’, enjoyed the event so much last year that he wasted no time building up excitement and support for the second year event. The effect of Foley’s support is evident with the inclusion of Johnny Bulford, co-writer of Lee Brice’s No. 1 hit “A Woman Like You” and Chris Young’s “Lonely Eyes.” Terri Jo Box, a hit typewriter for Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Trisha Yearwood and many more, declared her desire to return before she even left the stage last year.
“The people at Lake Martin were so welcoming and the lake is absolutely beautiful,” says Foley. “All the songwriters stuck together, and we jammed all night and played on the lake all day. I couldn’t wait to get back to Nashville and tell everyone about it. This year is going to be even better !”
The Lake Martin Songwriter Festival is more than a showcase of the writers behind the songs; it’s a weekend filled with world-class performances in small venues where the writers share insight into their writing process and what drove them to write the song, and invite attendees to ask questions. In many venues, audiences are only feet away from the performers and the feeling is intimate and conversational.
In addition to the talent showcase, this year’s event will feature a songwriting contest for writers 20 and under. Held Friday night at Wind Creek State Park, the event will be hosted and judged by Bruce Wawrzyniak with the “Now Hear This” podcast and Trey Foshee of the band Blackberry Breeze. The winner will perform the winning composition on the main stage on Saturday night.
Alexander City’s Main Street will be transformed with a stage erected between historic downtown buildings, creating a natural acoustic venue. The Josh Kiser Band opens the concert at 6:30 p.m., followed by Jamie O’Neal performing his hit singles “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels.” Thompson Square will share their new single “Country In My Soul,” among other favorites.
“One of the best things about the Lake Martin Songwriters Festival is that it’s all free,” says Fuller. “Lake Martin is already a fantastic vacation destination, and this festival will continue to grow and bring more and more songwriters and music lovers to Lake Martin and central Alabama.”
The Lake Martin Songwriters Festival is presented by These Lake Martin Guys and Tallapoosa County Tourism. For more information and a full range, go here.
This article first appeared in Alabama Living magazine.