The workshop saw a couple of new faces in this year's panelists: three-time Grammy winner Ashley Cleveland and husband/co-writer/premier guitarist Kenny Greenberg from Nashville.
Songwriting instructor Odie Blackmon, also a Grammy-nominated songwriter returned for the third time this year with a sampling of the curriculum he teaches at Vanderbilt University's music program. Armed with song formats and samples, he laid out for attendees the formats used in songwriting.
Our own local hit songwriter, Tommy Polk, discussed topics ranging from copyright law to the changing nature of the music industry due to the rise of the Internet.
Director of the Alexandria, LA, Chapter of the Nashville Songwriter's Association International and the Alexandria, LA, branch of Tipitina's Music Co-Op, Aaron Sibley, discussed the advantages offered to songwriters in both organizations.
Aspiring songwriters learned that as members of these organizations, they have access to low-cost utilization of their facilities and programs including Pro Tools, Photoshop, etc. instruction, weekly jam sessions, monthly songwriting workshops, and networking opportunities.
This year's group of attendees included a higher-than-usual number of Christian songwriters, noted Odie Blackmon, who credited Ashley Cleveland and her soulful Christian music with the increase.
Ashley discussed ways to incorporate scripture and liturgy into personal experience to create an intimate, unique style of your own in faith-based songwriting.
To illustrate her points, she included performances of some of her own faith-based pieces into her lecture, accompanied by her husband, guitarist/songwriter Kenny Greenberg.
"I've paid hundreds of dollars to go to songwriters' workshops like this," said Steve Miller, an attendee from Denton, Texas. "But this was better by far. For $20, it can't be beat."
Every attendee at the workshop received a personalized critique of a song they'd brought for analysis. The workshop ended at Bowie's Tavern in Natchez with an open mic performance by both attendees and panelists. Needless to say it was an impressive performance on all counts.
Sponsors of this year's Songfest include the Delta Music Museum, the Friends of the Delta Music Museum, Mayor McGlothin and the Town of Ferriday, Representative Andy Anders, Stan’s Strings, WalMart, Budweiser, Phat River Studio, FOX 48, Solid Gold , 95Country.com, Natchez Grand, Bowie’s Tavern, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, BASF and Tipitina’s Music Co-ops. Along with immense help and support from Guylyn Boles, Cyndie Dillon, Aaron Sibley and the Ferriday Town Council.