Mississippi Songwriters Festival good for all ages and styles

The Mississippi Songwriters Festival drew more than 100 musicians and 5,000 visitors.
The Mississippi Songwriters Festival drew more than 100 musicians and 5,000 visitors.(WLOX)
Updated: Sep. 22, 2019 at 6:43 AM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Sometimes the musicians themselves have a hard time categorizing their style.

“It’s categorically somewhere in the non-category Americana folk,” said musician Bob Ray. “It’s not really country, but it’s country-ish. It’s not bluegrass at all, but it’s kind of grassy.”

Genre means nothing as long as you can sing your own songs, especially for young performers.

“It’s just the best experience ever - this whole thing,” said musician Sophia Meadows. “Songwriting is such a big part of my life, and I think it is a part of everyone else’s. Anyone can be a songwriter. It’s just getting up on the stage and being able to be vulnerable and show another side of yourself.”

Murky Waters played host to the Youth Showcase where people like Sophia Meadows can get her hands on the keys.

“We like to be one of the first places they showcase themselves,” said Iris Byrd, general manager. “They’re learning to become songwriters, performers. It’s going to be something that goes on. It’s a lifetime dream for them.”

Parents are happy to see the opportunity as well. Johnny Smith’s two daughters form the band KneeOn Sisters.

“It’s been huge for the girls to have some of these folks in the songwriter’s festival take them under their wings and kind of help them and lead them,” he said. “So, it’s been great.”

Even the more experienced get a lot out of the festival.

“It’s just a neat opportunity to meet other artists from all over Mississippi, other areas as well and get to hear some great original music,” said musician Jodie Ross.

The Top 20 Event award-winner features more than 100 songwriters and 5,000 fans. Brent Crawshaw of Canton was one of them.

“We like a lot of different kind of music,” he said. “But what we like about this is it’s nice and intimate. It’s not too stressed. Very relaxed.”

Long-time musician Shannon Williford said he wants to come back for a good reason.

“I’ve got hundreds of songs,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not going to play them all today.”

Performances continue Sunday with the Gospel Showcase at 11 a.m. and the finale concert beginning at 3 p.m. - all at Mosaic restaurant.

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