Songwriters to speak at NLCC

Published 11:53 am Friday, February 23, 2007

The 18th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration brings many talented and interesting people to town this week to speak on subjects related to this year’s theme, “Southern Accents: Language in the Deep South.”

One of those talented and interesting people is Tricia Walker, who will speak 9 a.m. Saturday at the Natchez Convention Center, along with her friend and singer/songwriter, Davis Raines. Their presentation is called “Poetry for the People: The Lyrics of Country Music and American Social Change.”

Walker grew up in Fayette, and spent 26 years in Nashville as a singer, songwriter, producer and music publisher.

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“Tricia worked, taught, wrote songs, performed, recorded and generally amazed people for 20 years or more in Nashville,” said Carolyn Vance Smith, founder and co-chairwoman of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.

Last year, Walker moved back to Mississippi to work at Delta State University. She currently serves as the director of the school’s Delta Music Institute.

“The Delta Music Institute is a recording and music industry program. We work on teaching students how to do digital recording and some other things related to music business opportunities. It was a good opportunity for me to come back home after 26 years,” she said.

Walker said she is glad to be back home, and is looking forward to the conference.

“This is my fourth or fifth year to participate, but it’s my first time giving a panel presentation,” she said.

“I’ve always enjoyed the literary conference because I grew up so close to here. And particularly this year’s theme, which has a lot to do with songwriting, provided the perfect opportunity for me to be a part of it.

“Davis and I are going to take a look at how changes (in society) are reflected through country music lyrics, from the 1920s to the present, and we’ll also look at the themes in country music that reflect changes in lifestyle.”

Walker said her favorite songs are the ones with that tell a story.

“Not all songs are narratives that tell great stories,” she said.

“But I’m more attracted to the kind that do tell stories. I find a lot of people who try to write songs too perfectly and it ends up sounding like an English paper. A good song lyric will sound very conversational, like you’re talking to somebody. But you have to remember that words are only half of a song. To review and evaluate a song, you have to be listening to the music, as well as reading the words on the page because the music and the words really are married to each other.”

While in Natchez, Walker and Raines will also perform at the Natchez Coffee Company. They will play there tonight at 7 and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and seating is limited. Contact the coffee company for mor information.

Their presentation at the conference is free.