ATLANTA, Sept. 20, 2019—Explore Georgia, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), join forces to celebrate the Boudleaux Bryant Festival in Shellman, Georgia on Oct. 11 and 12, 2019. Bryant, a native of Shellman, and his wife, Felice, are songwriting hall of famers. They’ve composed more than 6,000 songs, 900 of which have been recorded by a variety of artists from different genres, and sold over half a billion records. The couple, known as the first professional songwriters of Nashville, are featured prominently in Ken Burns’ latest epic documentary, Country Music, which will continue Sept. 22 through Sept. 25 on GPB and can be streamed on gpb.org.
Commemorating the documentary and what would have been Bryant’s 100th birthday in February, the City of Shellman and Shellman Beautification Association hosts two days of free events including live music, a fiddling contest, a BBQ competition, cornhole tournament, food vendors, arts and crafts, kids’ activities and more. GPB will be on site showing excerpts of Country Music throughout the day.
“The songs of Georgia native Boudleaux Bryant and his wife Felice have been part of popular culture for decades, but to share the story of the couple behind the music with millions through Ken Burns’ documentary is extraordinary,” said Lisa Love, Interim Deputy Commissioner of Explore Georgia at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Just as wonderful, however, is the opportunity to have locals and visitors come together to celebrate a musician in his rural hometown 100 years after his birth.”
“GPB is proud to join with Explore Georgia to celebrate the phenomenal talents of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant,” said Emmalee Hackshaw, Director of Community Engagement for GPB. “As Country Music has shown us, they’ve played a central role in the genre’s success, and we’re honored to pay tribute to their legacy.”
“I too am from South Georgia,” said Del Bryant, Boudleaux and Felice’s youngest. “My father was always excited when he was coming home. I’m also thrilled to be South Georgia bound once again. Thank you Shellman for honoring one of your favorite sons who loved you so.”
“Thank you Shellman for keeping the Boudleaux Bryant story alive,” said eldest son Dane. “Boudleaux wanted to be remembered as a songwriter and musician. You have helped make that happen. Thank you.”
The free Boudleaux Bryant Festival kicks off Friday night, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. with a performance by the Bo Henry Band and on Sat. Oct. 12, the festivities run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with Virginia Prescott, host of GPB’s On Second Thought, hosting a discussion with Del Bryant at 11 a.m. followed by the fiddling contest at noon. Artists performing throughout the day include Matt Rogers Band, Few Miles South, Back in the Saddle and Lee Pilcher.
About Boudleaux Bryant: Born in Shellman and raised in Moultrie, Georgia, Boudleaux Bryant is recognized, along with his wife Felice, as one of America’s most prolific songwriters with a catalog of hits including “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Love Hurts,” “Come Live With Me” and the bluegrass standard “Rocky Top.” From a musical family, Boudleaux studied classical violin from ages five through 18, when he joined the Atlanta Philharmonic for a season. For two years after that, he played hillbilly fiddle and performed regularly on WSB in Atlanta as a member of Hank Penny’s Radio Cowboys. Then, while touring the country with a jazz group, he met his future wife, Felice, in Milwaukee, Wis., married her and brought her home to Moultrie, where they began to pair her poems and lyrics with his melodies and send them to publishers. The Bryants’ first break came when Little Jimmy Dickens recorded their song “Country Boy” and it became a Top Ten folk/country hit in 1949. A year later, the couple moved permanently to Nashville and embarked on a songwriting career that led to work with artists including Jimmy Dickens, Carl Smith, Eddy Arnold, Kitty Wells, Chet Atkins, Roy Orbison and other Nashville legends. Their songs were cut by a diverse number of artists including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, and many, many, many more. The Bryants are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The pair will also be honored with a 10-month exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Music City, which opens Sept.27. Listen to their music here.
About the Artists: For more than 20 years, the Albany-based Bo Henry Band has been a staple in the Southeast, playing soul, blues and Southern Rock through the lens of a laid-back, South Georgia jam band. Steeped in the tradition of Georgia’s successful country singer/songwriters, Matt Rogers has spent the last few years touring constantly, building a devout fan base while earning accolades including Music City SongStar winner, NSAI Top-40 Songwriter and Georgia Country Awards Overall Artist of the Year. His 2018 single, “Peaches and Pecans,” pays homage to his home state and was played at all of the University of Georgia home games at Sanford Stadium during their 2018 season. United by their love of the songs of the Great American West, Atlanta’s Back in the Saddle plays classic cowboy and western swing music. Led by veteran Atlanta singers “Frenchy” Berne Poliakoff and “Gallopin’” Gwen Hughes, the band features vocal harmonies, stellar musicianship and rollicking humor and fun. Singer/songwriter Lee Pilcher grew up in Ellaville and brings all the influences of his South Georgia upbringing, from country and blues to funk and soul, to his songs.
About the Boudleaux Bryant Fiddling Contest: All styles of fiddling are welcome; the categories are Youth (up to 12 years old); Junior (13-17); Adult (18 and up) with cash prizes ranging from $25 to $500. The contest, which is free to enter, will be held at 12 noon on Sat. Oct. 12. Fiddlers can register online at georgiamusicfoundation.org or register on site between 10-11:30 a.m.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) plans, manages and mobilizes state resources to attract new business investment to Georgia, drive the expansion of existing industry and small business, locate new markets for Georgia products, inspire tourists to visit Georgia and promote the state as a top destination for arts events and film, music and digital entertainment projects. www.georgia.org
About Georgia Public Broadcasting
As one of the largest PBS stations in the nation, Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB Media) has been creating content worth sharing for over 50 years. With nine television stations, 18 radio stations and a multi-faceted digital and education division, GPB strives to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of our viewers and listeners with programming that includes statewide radio news, current affairs, high school sports, educational resources for teachers and students and enlightening programs about our state like Georgia Outdoors, A Seat at the Table, On Second Thought, Political Rewind and more. For more information, visit www.gpb.org.
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