Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

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They Write the Songs, They Write the Songs

By Kate Peterson

Everyday you come across a song that resonates with you; it makes you either smile, cry or conjures up a plethora of other emotions. These thought provoking songs are written by someone, and often performed by another.

At the Fourth Annual Pensacola Beach Songwriters’ Festival, you have the unique opportunity to experience songwriters not only performing their own songs, but also telling you the back-stories that inspired the songs in the first place.

The origin of a song can be very different from what you think it is, and hearing it directly from the songwriter can be enlightening.

The ringmaster of this event is festival co-founder, Reneda Cross. She has been organizing the growing event for four years now, with a staff of two or three people.

“The Songwriters’ Festival is in its infancy, not on its feet yet,” Cross said. “We are putting on a successful festival on a shoestring.”

Pensacola Beach lends itself naturally to a pub-crawl style festival. You can start out at one venue, and plan the rest of your day to end up at the other end of the beach.

Currently, there are 15 stages you can visit during the festival: The Grand Marlin, Sandshaker Lounge, Castaways, Flounders, Laguna’s, Lillo’s Tuscan Grille, Aloha Wine and Liquors, Paradise Bar and Grill, Sabine Sandbar, Quietwater Amphitheatre; The Wine Bar and Bamboo Willies will host the Art and Wine stage. In Pensacola, Blues Angel Music and StudioAmped at WSRE.

Along with seeing your favorite songwriters at a variety of stages, you can partake in other events. One such event is a workshop, scheduled for Wednesday, October 3, called “Singing with Your Speaking Voice, Speaking with Your Singing Voice.” This workshop features Beth Nielsen Chapman, a Nashville-based singer, songwriter and recording artist.

Chapman has written numerous hits, and written songs for many top artists including: Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Bette Midler, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Michael McDonald, Amy Grant, Keb Mo’, Roberta Flack, Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Bettye LaVette and Waylon Jennings—just to name a few. Elton John performed her groundbreaking song, “Sand and Water,” on his 1997 U.S. tour in place of the song “Candle In The Wind” to honor the memory of Princess Diana.

There are also boat cruises scheduled for the festival. On Wednesday, October 3, there will be a sunset cruise, featuring Beth Nielsen Chapman. The other is scheduled for Friday, October 5. Dubbed “The Good News Cruise,” it will feature Charlie Black, Dana Hunt Black, Chas Sandford, and Jim “Moose” Brown.

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