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Hwy 80 Songwriters Festival kicks off

Now in its fifth year, the Highway 80 Songwriters Festival has gotten off to good start. The festival began in Jackson on Saturday and will make its way to Meridian on July 13.

“It was originally started to give songwriters a chance to expand their territory, to meet new fans, and to teach them how to perfect their art,” said Casey Hendricks, vice president of the Montgomery Institute.

The festival will feature free songwriting workshops to all ages and all levels, taught by the award-winning Nashville singer and songwriter, Karen Reynolds.

“She is going to be teaching them how to build better songs and how to craft songs that work. She’s also going to be doing a critiquing session with local singers and songwriters to give them tips on how to make their work better,” said Hendricks.

Artists will perform at various restaurants in Meridian, including Squealers BBQ, News Restaurant, Weidmann’s, and Brickhaus. Hendricks explained that the festival is more than just fun, but an economic boost for the city.

“We have songwriters coming in to meridian from all across the southeast. We have some coming from New Orleans, and some from Gulf Shores, Ala. Last year we had some come in from Nashville.”

Originally from Meridian, the group Track 45 will return from Nashville to perform at the festival’s grand finale on July 15.

“I think everyone should come out because it’s a lot of fun. Last year was my first year to attend the event. I noticed it was a personal experience when you get to see these songwriters and hear their stories,” said Hendricks.

The festival’s grand finale will be at Soule Live Steam Works. Admission is $10 for adults. Children and students get in free.

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