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Lineup for Annual Songwriters Festival Announced

Proceeds to Benefit Great Expectations for Foster Students

Post Date:03/07/2018 2:01 PM

A 2017 inductee into the acclaimed Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will make his first appearance at the 6th Annual Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival, joining a trio of returning festival favorites for this celebration of song that benefits foster youth enrolled at Virginia Highlands Community College.

Tim Nichols, who earned a Grammy and numerous other honors for co-writing the chart-topping “Live Like You Were Dying,” will accompany headliner Richard Leigh, and festival veterans Tony Arata and Dennis Morgan. The four Nashville Songwriters will perform in-the-round, singing original works that have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Ronnie Milsap and other country music greats.

All proceeds from this May 26 concert will benefit VHCC’s Great Expectations Program, an on-campus support service dedicated to helping foster youth in our region reach their educational and career goals.

“We’re excited to once again welcome Richard Leigh and his talented friends for a memorable celebration of song,” said VHCC President Gene C. Couch, Jr. “As we honor the work of these renowned songwriters, we’re also ensuring foster youth in our region receive the support they need to excel in the classroom and enjoy success after graduation.”

Leigh is a 1973 graduate of VHCC, who wrote “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” the Crystal Gayle hit that was named “Best Country Song” at the 1977 Grammy Awards. Over the course of his career, he has written dozens of chart-topping hits and been honored with numerous awards from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Nashville Songwriters Association International. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and, upon the nomination of VHCC, was named to the Outstanding Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011 by the American Association of Community Colleges.

Leigh returned to campus with a few fellow members from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013 to establish the annual festival that bears his name. The event gives concertgoers the rare opportunity to hear songwriters perform their hits and share the stories behind their songs.

 “The Dance,” a No. 1 hit for Garth Brooks, is among the long list of chart-toppers written by Arata. Morgan’s work includes Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain” and, “Let Me Go,” which became a hit for Faith Hill. And Nichols, who got his first big break when Keith Whitley recorded  “I’m Over You,” made country music history in 2004 when “Live Like You Were Dying” became the only song to win every major country music award.

The four members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.

Other highlights of the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival include a songwriting contest that allows up-and-coming talents from throughout the region to compete for cash and the chance to perform at Nashville’s acclaimed Bluebird Café. Categories include bluegrass, folk, country, gospel and pop/rock.

For complete contest rules and tickets to the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival, please go to Tickets go on sale March 15.

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