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About the Artists - An Evening of Stories and Songs

October 17, 2019 | Features

Born and raised in Spartanburg, Marshall Chapman has released thirteen critically acclaimed albums with another one coming out this spring. Her latest, Blaze of Glory, was hailed as a masterpiece. She is the author of two books—Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller and They Came to Nashville. More recently, she’s been cast in movies, including Country Strong, Mississippi Grind and Novitiate. Among those who have recorded Chapman’s songs are Emmylou Harris, Joe Cocker, Irma Thomas, and Jimmy Buffett.

Lee Smith’s early fiction writing was heavily influenced by her childhood in Grundy, Virginia, an Appalachian coal-mining town. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Hollins College and published her first novel, The Last Day the Dog Bushes Bloomed, in 1968. Smith has received numerous major writing awards, including the Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature, the Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Robert Penn Warren Award. She recently co-edited Mothers and Strangers, a collection of Southern writers’ essays about their mothers. Smith, Chapman, and McCorkle all contributed essays to Mothers and Strangers.

Jill McCorkle grew up in Lumberton, North Carolina, and earned a Bachelor of Arts at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she studied under Smith. She also earned a master of arts in writing from Hollins College. She is the author of six novels and four short story collections. Her novels include Life After Life, Tending to Virginia and Carolina Moon, and her story collections include Crash Diet and Going Away Shoes. McCorkle has taught at Harvard, Brandeis, and North Carolina State. She is a member of the core faculty in the Bennington College Writing Seminars and frequently teaches in the Sewanee Writers Program. She has a new novel coming out next year.

Josh Saul/Mountain Stage
A native of Nashville, Matraca Berg was only 18 years old when she had her first number one hit, “Faking Love,” co-written with Bobby Braddock. She also co-wrote “Strawberry Wine,” which was recorded by Deanna Carter and is widely considered a signature song for both of them. Berg’s songwriting collaborators include her husband, Jeff Hanna, founder of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Among those who have recorded her songs are Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Chesney, and Linda Ronstadt. Berg has released seven albums and received the Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music in 2018. She is one of only a handful of women to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Three of her songs have been nominated for Grammy Awards.

An Evening of Stories and Songs with Marshall Chapman, Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, and Matraca Berg,” a fundraiser for Chapman Cultural Center, will take place at the Chapman Cultural Center Theater on October 30. 

Showtime is 7:00 p.m. The hour-long performance will be followed by a book and CD signing. 

Since 1998, Smith and McCorkle, both New York Times best-selling authors, have performed with Nashville-based songwriters Chapman and Berg on the rare occasions their schedules permit. The collaboration began when their musical, Good Ol’ Girls, premiered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The New York Times called it “a feminist literary country music review.” Adapted from the fiction of Smith and McCorkle and featuring 14 songs by Berg and Chapman, Good Ol’ Girls opened off-Broadway in 2010. 

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