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Brenau live music series Sofa Sessions ending
Songwriter Bruce Burch returning to Nashville music scene
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Bruce Burch held an event to speak about his book “Songs that Changed Our Lives” and his career to guests Aug. 12 at Peach State Bank in Gainesville. Burch has had his songs recorded by Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Billy Joe Royal, Faith Hill and more. - photo by Erin O. Smith

“The Sofa Sessions,” a renowned series of intimate gatherings for local musicians at Brenau University hosted by famed songwriter and Gainesville-bred Bruce Burch, is coming to a close.

Burch is ending his residency as a faculty member at Brenau and returning to the music scene in Nashville, Tenn., home to some of his greatest exploits in the industry.

But the live event may be resurrected in some shape, form or fashion if interest holds.

“We will miss Bruce and we wish him well on his return to Nashville,” said David Morrison, Brenau spokesman. “He’s a great guy and an asset to Brenau. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him a lot with John Jarrard programs, and he still has lots of friends and family in Gainesville and definitely remains in the heart of the Brenau family.”

Morrison added that the university’s relationship and commitment to the John Jarrard Foundation, which hosts an annual concert and fundraiser for local charities in Gainesville, remains unchanged with Burch’s departure.

Doug Harrell, a local real estate agent and frequent contributor to “The Sofa Sessions,” said the series that pairs songwriters face-to-face with an audience from sofas arranged in the Jacobs lobby has been integral to the development of his craft — and he’s considering how the tradition might carry on in Burch’s absence.

“I hate to see him go,” Harrell said. “It’s been a really great event for a lot of local singer-songwriters,” as well as poets and storytellers.

From country, folk and bluegrass to contemporary Christian and blues-rock music, Harrell’s own songs tap into his deep love for many genres.

He said he is particularly inspired by the likes of John Denver and James Taylor.

Harrell said the connections he has made at the sessions have led to co-writing songs with many other artists and he hopes this camaraderie will continue to bring together the best musicians North Georgia has to offer.

It has also led to the creation of a “songwriters in the round” event that Harrell is helping put together this spring.

That event, dubbed “Music for Missions,” will take place March 25 at Jaemor Farms in Alto and raise money to support local missionaries.

Finding a new venue to keep “The Sofa Sessions” alive could prove the most challenging, and Harrell said he would gauge the interest of other frequent contributors about establishing a similar series in the local area.

“I would love to keep ‘Sofa Sessions’ going,” he said. “But at this time nothing is concrete.”

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