The First Annual Amelia Island Songwriter Festival recently celebrated its inaugural installment in Fernandina Beach, Florida, August 27 through 31. The BMI-sponsored event offered an innovative mash-up of hit songwriter showcases, aspiring troubadour workshops, song contests and networking opportunities. Successful songwriter and author Jason Blume transplanted his invaluable workshop south, sharing encouragement and insight with songwriting hopefuls. In the Song of the Festival contest, honors went to "It's Too Late," penned by Yulee, Florida's Anthony Merz.
A slew of Nashville's songwriting elite also made the trip, mingling with aspiring writers and fans and showcasing the voices and stories behind contemporary hits. Troubadours including Bobby Pinson (Sugarland's "Want To," his own "Don't Ask Me How I Know"), Jon Randall (Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss's "Whiskey Lullabye"), Stephony Smith (Tim McGraw & Faith Hill's "It's Your Love," Kenny Chesney's "Big Star," Reba McEntyre's "How Was I To Know"), Billy Montana (Sara Evans' "Suds In the Bucket," Jo Dee Messina's "Bring On the Rain," Garth Brooks' "More Than A Memory"), Tim Nichols (Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," Terri Clark's "Girls Lie Too" and Jo Dee Messina's "Heads Carolina, Tails California"), John Wiggins (Joe Nichols' "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off"), and Chuck Jones (Diamond Rio's "Love A Little Stronger," Deana Carter's "Count Me In," John Berry's "Your Love Amazes Me"), Woody Mullis and Mike Geiger (co-writers of George Strait's "Adalida," Sawyer Brown's "This Missin' You Heart of Mine," and Neil McCoy's "City Put The Country Back In Me"), along with singer/songwriters Connie Harrington, Alexander and Shelly Fairchild, and CMT Can You Duet show standouts The Coppolas (Kate and Kasey) performed in intimate venues throughout the festival. BMI executives also took advantage of the scenic locale and stout concentration of hit-makers, presenting BMI Million-Air certificates to the writers whose songs have generated more than one million performances.
Photos by Alan Mayor