On Saturday, May 18, five of Nashville’s leading songwriters will gather on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College, joined by up-and-coming talents from our region, for a day-long celebration of song. Their names may not be familiar, but their chart-topping hits – which have been recorded by country music greats like Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Faith Hill, and Randy Travis – will certainly have you tapping your toe and singing along.
The festival honors the work of Richard Leigh, a 1973 graduate of Virginia Highlands Community College who earned a Grammy Award for “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” a No. 1 hit recorded by country superstar Crystal Gayle. Over the course of his songwriting career, Richard has been honored with numerous awards from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music and the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and written dozens of hits for country music’s elite. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994 and was named to the Outstanding Alumni Hall of Fame by the American Association of Community Colleges in 2011.
Richard enthusiastically agreed to return to the VHCC campus, rally his friends from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and lend his name to the upcoming festival that will celebrate the art of songwriting and benefit VHCC’s Great Expectations Program for foster care students. Because Richard lost his parents at a young age and was later adopted, the cause is one close to his heart.