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Songwriters Festival Set to Honor Paul Overstreet

Vancleave’s famed multi-hit songwriter Paul Overstreet will be the first inductee into the Mississippi Songwriters Festival Hall of Fame Thursday night when the festival launches its 10th annual event.

The Hall of Fame ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education and will include a performance by Overstreet. Throughout the weekend, more than 80 aspiring and professional songwriters will perform at various venues in Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point and Biloxi. The four-day event, Sept. 19-22, concludes Sunday afternoon with a musical finale at Mosaic Restaurant and Bar in Ocean Springs for a $20 cover fee that includes a $20 food and beverage credit.

The Line-up for the 2019 Mississippi Songwriters Festival will highlight a number of professional writers who have penned hits recorded by artists such as Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Chris Janson and Montgomery Gentry. A few of the scheduled performers are Brandon Green, Sean Gasaway, Chris Wallin and Double Dee.

Weekend activities will also feature a workshop for songwriters on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center in Ocean Springs. Tricia Walker, Mississippi singer/songwriter and director emeritus of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University, will lead the workshop. Registration is $60, and seating is limited. Attendees have a chance to enter a songwriting contest with the winning song being recorded at Boggy Branch Studio. Information about the workshop as well as detailed daily performance schedules can be found at

Overstreet, a 1973 graduate of Vancleave High School, moved to Nashville soon after graduation to pursue a songwriting career. He left Jackson County driving a 1968 Ford Fairlane packed with a laundry basket full of blue jeans and tee shirts, a guitar and 10 original songs. He spent his days working blue-collar jobs and his nights playing in bars and lounges as he gradually broke into the music industry.

Overstreet’s career includes songs recorded by some of the biggest names in country music. Two of those, “Forever and Ever Amen” performed by Randy Travis and “Love Can Build a Bridge” recorded by The Judds, earned Grammy Awards. Overstreet has also written many songs that he recorded himself that rose to the top of the charts. A Country Music Trail marker on Highway 57 in Vancleave pays tribute to his accomplishments. Overstreet credits God for his talent and success.

The festival is hosted by the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support, educate and showcase professional and aspiring songwriters from Mississippi. Alliance President George Cumbest said, “In our 10th year we are grateful for the sustained progress in growing the Mississippi songwriting culture on the coast. We are running our monthly radio show Songs and Stories at the Mary C., adding more schools to our educational program, and seeing a number of our local writers gain national success.”


Written by Nancy Jo Maples

Nancy Jo Maples is an award-winning journalist who has written about Mississippi people and places for more than 30 years. A former daily staff news reporter for the Mississippi Press, she currently writes for various media and teaches communication at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Reach her at [email protected]


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