OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi music lovers now have an opportunity to listen to songwriters play their original music and also hear about the inspiration behind the lyrics and melodies. Songs and Stories is a one month showcase put on by the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.
Songwriters said when they wanted to build a bridge between the people who love to write music and those who love to listen to it, they came up with the Songs and Stories show.
"This is probably the best thing on the Coast right now going musically. I would say one of the greatest things as far as creative venues," said Ty Taylor, singer-songwriter. "It brings awareness that there actually is a writing community down here, and a strong one."
Every third Thursday, different singer-songwriters appear on stage at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center to play their original songs. However, they don't just play music. They also tell the stories about the joys and heartaches behind the lyrics and melodies.
Taylor performed a song he'd written about his late father.
"Normally, I'm not one to show emotion and stuff. That's just not how I am," Taylor said. "But with this, it's an outlet. It's okay to let people know, 'Hey, this kind of gets to me. This is how I feel.'"
Wayne Barr sat in the audience.
"The stories add so much to the songs themselves," Barr said. "Knowing what drives a person's creativity, sort of where they're coming from when they exercise their art."
The Mississippi Songwriters Alliance puts on the showcase. Officials said the concerts keep the Mississippi Songwriters Festival, which is held in September, fresh in people's minds all year long.
"We're able to bring songwriters down from Nashville if not every month, then every other month," said Samantha Eubanks, of the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance. "Some of the major songwriters who come down to perform for the festival once a year get down here more than once a year. That way, they're able to mingle with our local singer-songwriters."
Songwriter Wanda Mallette has penned such hits such as "Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places" and "Just Another Woman In Love." She has had other songs recorded by Reba McIntyre and Tammy Wynette. Mallette said she's impressed by the level of talent at the showcase.
"I think it's wonderful. I think the community should come out and support it," Mallette said. "Because, these guys are real talented. It's just heartwarming to come and listen to your own local people get up there and sing their original songs."
"A lot of the songwriters, especially in country music, they're not the people you hear on the radio," Eubanks said. "They're the people who write the stories, and the stories have a very special meaning to them. They come from somewhere deep in their soul, and to hear them tell the story, it really changes the way the song is for you."
The Songs and Stories show is the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. The show is free to the public.