OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The death of Amy Prentiss one week ago cast a shadow on the Mississippi Songwriters Festival, but her life has created inspiration and motivation for those who make music.
Festival board member Scott Stradtner began the grand finale on Sunday with a tribute to the crowd.
"Through her hard work, dedication and devotion to her daughter, Amy Prentiss touched our lives and enriched our world," Stradtner said to the crowd.
Prentiss and her daughter, Abigail Osteen, have been heavily involved with the organization since its beginning in 2010. Prentiss was murdered in her Gautier home last week.
"A lot of folks just can't believe last year they were here hanging out and all of this happens right before the festival. Kind of a shocker," said George Cumbest, president of the festival. "It weighs heavy on everyone's minds and hearts."
Cumbest says music will be the medicine.
"It's an acceptable format to lay their feelings out and discuss things that maybe you don't talk in public about. You can express it through your music," Cumbest said.
The grand finale attracted hundreds to see about 20 musicians from the Coast and throughout the country. Over the four-day event, about 100 songwriters performed to about 1,000 people.
Carrie Lynn Stanford, of Gautier, studied in the same performance arts academy as Abigail. She's learned how to make songs heal.
"It's almost like you're telling the world about your problems and your whole life, but it's through a song, so it kind of makes it a lot less harsh and softens the blow on how you feel," Cumbest said.