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John Jarrard Foundation Songwriter Festival kicks off Friday
Five songwriters to perform Saturday at Brenau
Visitors fill the lawn at Brenau University for an evening of music during the 2012 John Jarrard Foundation Concert.

Rhett Akins, a well-known singer and songwriter, is one of five famous songwriters set to perform at the 12th annual John Jarrard Foundation Songwriter Festival in Gainesville this weekend.

Akins is most recognized for his hit songs “She Said Yes” and “That Ain’t My Truck.” Akins will headline the Saturday night concert series on the Brenau University front lawn. Joining him will be Kent Blazy, Kim Williams, Doug Johnson and Bob Morrison.

Before the main event Saturday night, a free concert will be on the square Friday, featuring David Lee Murphy, Riverstreet Again and Berklee College of Music students.

Saturday will mark the 12th year of the concert series named for Gainesville native John Jarrard, a famous songwriter and member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Jarrard moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of being a country music songwriter. As the odds of making it while battling an aggressive case of Type I diabetes were slim, he continued to pitch songs and write 11 No. 1 country hits. Because of diabetes, Jarrard lost his eyesight, one of his legs and endured several kidney transplants. He died in 2001.

Gainesville fans decided to honor Jarrard’s legacy with the first concert series, which only included a small gathering.

“The first year, (we had) about 30 tables, kind of small, and then it’s grown from there,” said Jody Jackson, executive director of the John Jarrard Foundation. “Now, we’re at over 100 tables and it’s about 1,200 to 1,500 people, and we’ve raised right at a little over $1 million for several local charities that were dear to John Jarrard’s heart.”

Concert proceeds will go to charities, including Good News Clinics, Good News at Noon Men’s Shelter and Boys and Girls Clubs of Hall County, among others.

Jackson said the selection of songwriters featured at each concert is driven by songwriters. He said the foundation has a long list of accomplished songwriters who are always willing to participate upon being asked.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at To sponsor a table of eight, call 770-710-9191.

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