If you’re a lover of live music you’ll want to go along to the annual Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival and Convention 20th – 24th February. It’s a celebration of the art of songwriting and with more than one hundred artists performing over five days, Belfast will come alive to the sound of singer-songwriters from all over Northern Ireland and different parts of the world. From Country to Rock, Americana to Traditional Folk, there’s something on offer for all musical tastes. The Convention explores the business side of music in sixteen workshops at the event.

Grammy award winning artists Brett James, Nanci Griffith and Kristian Bush of Sugarland (USA) play the festival alongside local songwriters Brian Kennedy, Gareth Dunlop and Katharine Philippa. Tom Baxter (ENG), John Spillane, Mick Flannery, Karima Francis (ENG) and Jason Blume (USA) make a welcome return to the event while newcomers Rae Morris (ENG), Then Jerico, Boo Hewerdine (ENG) and Henry Priestman (of The Christians) are all making their headline debut.

Once again, artists performing Americana music feature in many of the concerts with Gentry Morris, Otis Gibbs, Tommy Womack, Kim Richey, The Kennedys and Jarrod Dickenson playing in Madisons Hotel and the concert rooms at Holiday Inn Belfast. One of the highlights of this year’s Belnash festival is the CMA Songwriters Series at The Empire Music Hall with American Country stars Chris Young, Bob Dipiero, Brett James and Kristian Bush (Sugarland). Between them, they have written thirty nine number one hits in the USA Billboard Country Charts and are considered to be songwriting royalty in Nashville Tennessee.   

Panarts Director Colin Magee said, “When we started the songwriter’s festival back in 2005 we could only dream of having such a lineup of world-class artists. It’s our chance to focus on the people who create the songs we love and to put them centre stage. We’re shining a spotlight on their talent and our 9th event is going to be another great year for Belnash concerts and workshops.”

Over the five days, many of Northern Ireland’s finest writers will perform in concert including Tony Kaluarachchi, Mama Kaz, Gerry Creen, Gary Quinn, Eamon McCann, Michael Kerr, Morgan MacIntyre, Ben Reel, Tony McLoughlin, Alana Henderson, Ursula Burns, Warren Attwell, Six Miles North, Ria Maguire, Matt McGinn, Mark Graham, John Farry, Michelle Owens, Stephen Hall, Steve Amos, David McCann, Anton Glackin, Brendan Monaghan and many more fantastic artists.

The first Friday of every month at Holiday Inn Belfast is also the venue for ‘Songwriters In Concert’, a new monthly music event and workshop series organised by Belfast Nashville Songwriters®. It will be a platform for local artists to launch new CD’s and to showcase their music. Scorpion Jack play 1st March, Mama Kaz 5th April and Declan O’Rourke Friday 3rd May.

The Panarts festival and conference is sponsored by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Department for Social Development Laganside, Madisons Hotel, Holiday Inn Belfast, The Empire, CMA, American Consulate and PRS for Music 

A Full programme of events and ticket information is available at www.belfastnashville.com or call Ticketmaster, 23 Castle Place Belfast Tele 02890 323744.

Northern Irish singer songwriter Katharine PhilippaBelfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival and Convention