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State lawmakers honor Gainesville’s Bruce Burch, late country music songwriter
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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

Bruce Burch, a Gainesville country music songwriter who died in March, has been honored by the Georgia General Assembly. 

Burch grew up in Gainesville and played on the Gainesville High School football team before staking out a successful career as a country music songwriter, penning hits for Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, George Jones and others. 

He died at age 69, and Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, sponsored a resolution, H.R. 1080 to honor a friend he grew up with. 

Hawkins was a couple of years older than Burch, Hawkins said, but they used to play football together in a friend’s backyard, and he stayed in touch with Burch over the years. 

“I never thought he would be a songwriter, I don’t know where that came from,” Hawkins said. “Whatever Bruce did, he did well. He had a lot of passion for things he was involved in.”

Burch helped found an annual concert series in Gainesville originally known as the Bruce Burch & Friends Honor John Jarrard Concert, which raised money for local nonprofits through the John Jarrard Foundation. Burch grew up with and went to school with Jarrard, a fellow songwriter and Georgia Music Hall of Fame member who died of complications related to diabetes in 2001.

The foundation raises money for local nonprofits including Good News Clinics, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hall County and Georgia Mountain Food Bank. 

“He was a person of magnanimous strengths with an unimpeachable reputation for integrity, intelligence, fairness and kindness,” the resolution states. “By the example he made of his life, he made this world a better place in which to live.” 

Hawkins said he talked with Burch about legislation that would give incentives to young musicians to stay in Georgia to record and publish their music, rather than go to states with better breaks like North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana. 

Hawkins was on a committee to study the issue in 2016, and in 2017, the state passed the Georgia Music Investment Act in 2017, which established a refundable tax credit for music projects and tours in the state. 

One of Hawkins’ favorite songs that Burch wrote was “Wine into Water” performed by T. Graham Brown, he said. 

“I always like to recognize good friends and their great achievements,” Hawkins said. “It was an honor for me to be able to remember Bruce (Burch) that way and have other people learn a little more about his life and what he accomplished and what he gave back to everybody around him.”