Austin-based international music organization The House of Songs is thrilled to announce its expansion to the Ozarks region in Northwest Arkansas, which it’s celebrating with the release of a newly recorded song and video and a June 8 performance at the Kerrville Folk Festival.
The House of Songs, which pairs artists from around the globe with local songwriters in an effort to foster relationships and understanding, was invited by the Walton Family Foundation to establish its distinctive program in the Ozarks after the foundation learned of its success in Austin, where it was launched in 2009 by Troy Campbell. Coincidentally, Campbell had recently fallen in love with that region while spending time there for another project.
“We are honored to bring what we have been doing in Austin for the past eight years to the Ozarks creative community,” says Campbell. “The Walton Family Foundation is doing incredible work there and we are delighted to be a part of it.
At the inaugural, trial-run Ozarks session in February, 18 artists spent a week in a 90-year-old dormitory in Mount Sequoyah, above Fayetteville, co-writing 11 songs and recording several videos. The first to be released is the poignant “Daughters of Sin,” co-written by Kalyn Fay, a Cherokee Nation member from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Kaia Kater of Toronto, Canada, Rebecka Digervall of Pajala, Sweden, and Gareth Averill of Dublin, Ireland. The beautifully rendered video, filmed by Jason Miller and Dave Abbott and edited by Averill, can be streamed here.
Fay, Digervall and Fayetteville band Smokey & the Mirror will join Austin artist Raina Rose and Campbell at the Kerrville Folk Festival on Thursday, June 8 from 7 to 10 p.m., when the House of Songs presents the sundown concert at the Threadgill Theater, on the festival’s Quiet Valley Ranch grounds. Information and tickets, including single-day tickets for June 8, are available at kerrville-music.com/tickets.
Campbell established The House of Songs as a songwriter exchange platform that draws artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to collaborate, form new friendships and become part of a network that helps them share music worldwide. Artists are invited to spend 12 days in a beautiful central Austin home, where they co-write as many songs as inspiration allows. They also are given the option to perform their work at an intimate showcase. Campbell envisioned an Ozarks version while filming a documentary about Albert Brumley, the folk-gospel legend who penned “I’ll Fly Away,” one of the most covered songs in modern music history.
Mike Harvey, chief operating officer and interim president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, a nonprofit partner of The House of Songs, notes, “We are excited to work with Troy and his team as a way to foster greater collaboration and draw focus to a region that deserves more recognition for its rich traditions and creative potential. Far from a songwriting camp, The House of Songs offers immersive songwriting experiences that can help bring more awareness to both artists and creative communities.”
Adds Campbell: “We have always had a global focus, creating an import/export model for music that builds relationships and connects artists with new audiences and opportunities. House of Songs participants have earned Grammy nominations, had their songs chart in several countries and toured worldwide.
“The House of Songs is just the start for expanding your horizons,” he says. “What comes next is a lifetime of relationships that will take you all over the world.”
Opportunities have included performing at the annual Folk Alliance International conference, which this year featured House of Songs-sponsored showcase rooms for both Austin and Arkansas at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, and at festivals and venues on several continents.
The program’s hundreds of veterans say the experience has transformed their lives; several of them discuss how on thehouseofsongs.com website, which includes a new alumni section that allows participants to stay in contact and continue to build their international connections.
“We want our artists to have the opportunity to connect with others and lay the groundwork to continue to export themselves,” says Campbell. “The House of Songs is designed to impact not only individual artists, but communities as well.”
That’s the intent behind establishing the Ozarks House of Songs. By fostering collaboration, the organization can enhance an existing creative ecosystem and help it to thrive even more.
The House of Songs’ goal is to use music as the global handshake — and ultimate engine for peace.