ATLANTA — Explore Georgia, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), join forces to celebrate the Boudleaux Bryant Festival in Shellman, Georgia, on Oct. 11 and 12.
Bryant, a native of Shellman who grew up in Moultrie, and his wife, Felice, are songwriting hall of famers. They’ve composed more than 6,000 songs, 900 of which have been recorded by a variety of artists from different genres, and sold over half a billion records. The couple, known as the first professional songwriters of Nashville, are featured prominently in Ken Burns’ latest epic documentary, “Country Music.”
Commemorating the documentary and what would have been Bryant’s 100th birthday in February, the City of Shellman and Shellman Beautification Association hosts two days of free events including live music, a fiddling contest, a BBQ competition, cornhole tournament, food vendors, arts and crafts, kids’ activities and more. GPB will be on site showing excerpts of “Country Music” throughout the day.
All styles of fiddling are welcome at the fiddling contest; the categories are Youth (up to 12 years old); Junior (13-17); Adult (18 and up) with cash prizes ranging from $25 to $500. The contest, which is free to enter, will be held at 12 noon on Sat. Oct. 12. Fiddlers can register online at georgiamusicfoundation.org or register on site between 10-11:30 a.m.
“The songs of Georgia native Boudleaux Bryant and his wife Felice have been part of popular culture for decades, but to share the story of the couple behind the music with millions through Ken Burns’ documentary is extraordinary,” said Lisa Love, interim deputy commissioner of Explore Georgia at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Just as wonderful, however, is the opportunity to have locals and visitors come together to celebrate a musician in his rural hometown 100 years after his birth.”
“GPB is proud to join with Explore Georgia to celebrate the phenomenal talents of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant,” said Emmalee Hackshaw, director of community engagement for GPB. “As ‘Country Music’ has shown us, they’ve played a central role in the genre’s success, and we’re honored to pay tribute to their legacy.”
The free Boudleaux Bryant Festival kicks off Friday night, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. with a performance by the Bo Henry Band and on Sat. Oct. 12, the festivities run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with Virginia Prescott, host of GPB’s “On Second Thought,” hosting a discussion with Del Bryant at 11 a.m. followed by the fiddling contest at noon. Artists performing throughout the day include Matt Rogers Band, Few Miles South, Back in the Saddle and Lee Pilcher.