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‘New name, same song’: Foundation for songwriters' new title honors founder, longtime supporter Bruce Burch
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Bruce Burch, a Gainesville native and hit country music songwriter, died Saturday, March 12, at age 69. Burch helped establish the John Jarrard Foundation and its annual benefit concert in Gainesville, which raises money for local nonprofits. - photo submitted by Sarah Stenzel

A local songwriters foundation has a new name, but its tune hasn’t changed.

Established in 2001, the John Jarrard Foundation has been renamed the Jarrard Burch Foundation to pay tribute to the nonprofit’s founder and longtime supporter Bruce Burch, who died in March following a long battle with leukemia.

The foundation first began as a concert series, “Bruce Burch and Friends Honor John Jarrard,” which Burch helped launch in memory of the foundation’s original namesake John Jarrard, a longtime friend and fellow country music songwriter who died from diabetes complications. 

From there, the concerts grew into the John Jarrard Foundation, which hosts yearly concert fundraisers to support songwriters and area organizations “that were close to Jarrard’s heart.” 

Despite residing in Nashville and his battle with cancer, Burch remained a loyal supporter to the very end, the foundation said, serving on its board of directors and regularly attending events, including the foundation’s 20th anniversary concert held last fall.

Burch also co-wrote two hit singles for Reba McEntire, “Rumor Has It” and “It’s Your Call,” among many other songs for prominent country artists including Faith Hill, George Jones and T. Graham Brown. 

“(Burch) was beloved by so many people in Gainesville before he moved to Nashville and became a successful songwriter and music publisher,” the foundation’s board chairwoman Leslie Miller said in a statement. “He returned to Gainesville over and over to make this concert and organization what it is today. Our board didn’t hesitate when deciding to rename the foundation, which wouldn’t exist without his vision and dedication.” 

The 21st annual Songwriters Show is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at Midland Social, featuring a lineup of award-winning songwriters like Chuck Cannon, Jeff Sevens and Stephony Smith.

Like previous shows, proceeds will benefit area nonprofits including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier, Georgia Mountain Food Bank, Good News Clinics, Good News at Noon and Sisu Integrated Early Learning.

“It’ll be bittersweet to look out from the stage and not see Bruce’s face during this year’s show,” Jody Jackson, a close friend of Burch’s and the foundation’s executive director since 2009, said in a statement. “But I can’t help but smile thinking about how now not only are Bruce and John reunited in a better place, but they’re forever linked in both name and legacy, thanks to the support the foundation provides to others in our community.”

For more information on the Jarrard Burch Foundation, or Songwriters Show ticket and sponsorship information, visit jarrardburchfoundation.com or call 770-710-9191.