WEST JEFFERSON — Song writing is an art form that puts it all out there: The writer’s fear, loves, regrets and passions all being put to paper and then music can be both liberating and a challenge.

Helping people face that challenge is the Ola Belle Reed Song Writer’s Retreat, a three day experience April 12-14. for people wanting to become song writers of just better ones. Eleven hours of personal instruction is combined with jams before being capped off by concerts from the students and the instructors.

Arts Council Executive Director Jane Lonon said the retreat is a way for the council to support a type of art that isn’t hung up in a gallery.

“For the Arts Council, it’s another way of supporting the musical art through song writing, what we’ve got is a team of excellent musicians who are also excellent teachers,” Lonon said. “They’re all good performers and song writers, being able to teach and instruct that is an important part of music moving forward.”

Participants will go through workshops and crafting time while working with masters of the craft including Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, who have been nominated for 12 Grammys and won two. Joining them will be Grammy-nominated musician Claire Lynch, Alice Gerrard and Sam Gleaves.

The program is inspired by and named after Ola Bell Reed, a native of Grassy Creek who became a bluegrass legend in the 20th century. Reed’s songs about the Appalachian life and traditions combined with her clawhammer style of banjo playing has led to hundreds of musicians to cover her work.

Lonon said people from all over are flocking to the High Country to be a part of the experience. People from Maryland, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina have already signed up, bringing different styles, instruments and genres.

“The neat thing is that it’s for any instrument, any style of music because the style of instruction that happens is applicable whether you’re writing a bluegrass tune or a concerto in terms of the steps that you go through to get the result you want,” Lonon said.

Workshop space is limited, costs are $250 for adults and $150 for students. Tuition assistance and limited partial scholarships available. Contact the Ashe County Arts Council to reserve your space at (336) 846-2787 or visit www.ashecountyarts.org.

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