Mt. Juliet Christian Academy to welcome songwriters

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 19, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Fine Arts Booster Club will play host to local songwriters Darryl Worley, Kenny Beard, Andy Griggs and Mark Narmore for An Evening with the Arts, an annual fundraising event at the school. 

This year’s event, ‘An Evening with the Arts: Writers in the Round’ is scheduled for Feb. 24.

The community-wide event will be an evening of music that will include songs and stories from the prolific songwriters. Songs written by Worley, Beard, Griggs and Narmore have enjoyed a good bit of time at the top of the charts, recorded by the writers themselves and by artists, including Tim McGraw, George Jones, John Conlee, John Michael Montgomery, Josh Turner and many more. 

The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a silent auction. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance at the school or online at mjca.org/fine-arts.

Event coordinators created a songwriting and poetry competition in conjunction with the Writers in the Round event. This year’s winner was 12-year-old Lauren Kleeberg, a sixth grader at Mt. Juliet Christian. Kleeberg will perform her original song, “And If Only They Knew,” on the evening of the event.

The Mt. Juliet Christian Fine Arts Booster Club is raising funds to replace outdated theatrical curtains and lighting needed to support the fine arts students at the school. Mt. Juliet Christian has a thriving fine arts program that prepares students from prekindergarten to 12th grade in the elementary music, band, choral, drama and visual arts.

Worley, in his 15-year career in country music, has scored nearly 20 hit singles and three chart-topping hits with the self-penned  “Awful, Beautiful Life” and the poignant “Have You Forgotten,” which spent an astonishing seven weeks at No. 1, as well as “I Miss My Friend,” which came to him via a songwriter friends in Nashville.  He also recognizes the importance of giving back every opportunity that he can through his annual charities that has funded organizations such as the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center in Savannah.

“We’ve managed to do a lot by the grace of God over the past 15 years,” said Worley. “We’re having the biggest years of fundraising now just because we’ve learned how to do it. It’s just a very positive thing that we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Griggs, a Louisiana native, grew up listening to the sounds of Merle Haggard, but turned his head toward outlaw country and gospel by the time he reached college. After a short stint at Northeast Louisiana University, Griggs returned home in the early ‘90s to grieve the deaths of his father and brother. He became a minister and settled into family life with a new marriage, but he was still playing guitar. The music was in his veins, so Griggs began writing songs. 

By 1997, Griggs was paving his way in Nashville. He issued his debut album, You Won’t Ever Be Lonely, in 1999; it went gold and charted three top 10 singles with “She’s More,” “I’ll Go Crazy” and “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely.” Three years later, Griggs returned to the country spotlight with a second album, Freedom. The album’s first single, “Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man,” was another chart smash. The Good Life, on Montage Records, appeared in 2008.

Beard, known by his friends as KB, began his musical journey actively involved in school and church choruses in the small town on Ringgold, La.

After graduation, Beard joined the U.S. Air Force as a vocalist in the 8th Air Force Band and then finished his tour of duty at the United States Air Force Academy as lead vocalist for the Air Force county band, Wild Blue Country.  

Beard moved to Nashville in 1986 to pursue his dream of being a professional songwriter. In his 20-plus years as a professional songwriter, Beard received music industry awards for seven No. 1 and several other top 20 recordings.  

Beard has co-written hits with artists such as Trace Adkins, Jeff Bates, Clay Davidson, Deryl Dodd, Tracy Lawrence and Aaron Tippin, and has had more than 100 songs recorded by such notable artists as George Jones, John Conlee, Gene Watson, Jimmy Fortune, John Michael Montgomery, Joe Diffie, Joe Nichols, Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn and Montgomery Gentry. As a record producer, Beard is currently working with Trace Adkins and a new trio, Brassfield Aly.

Narmore was raised and still lives in Center Star, Ala. in the shadow of the music mecca of Muscle Shoals. He grew up loving and emulating the sounds from those Shoals studios and has had a 25-plus-year career as a songwriter.   

He graduated from Brooks High School in 1983, then attended the University of North Alabama, where he received a degree in commercial music in 1988. Narmore also worded locally as a radio announcer. With more than 80 cuts to his credit, he has had songs recorded by Josh Turner, John Michael Montgomery, Shenandoah, Blackhawk, Terri Clark, Craig Morgan and many others. His song, “That’s What I Love About Sunday” was the most-performed song at country radio in 2005, according to Billboard magazine and spent five weeks at No. 1. Also, it was the No. 8 Billboard country song on the 2000s decade.  

His first cut was on the Shoals supergroup Shenandoah – “Moon Over Georgia” and became a top five hit nationally.  Narmore was also co-writer, along with Walt Aldridge, on the No. 2 country hit by Blackhawk, “Like There Ain’t No Yesterday.”  Narmore was awarded a Bronze Star for his musical achievements, which is on permanent display in the lobby of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

His songs have appeared on seven gold or platinum albums. Narmore has been a staff songwriter for FAME, Jody Williams Music, Reba McEntire’s Starstruck Music Group, March Music, Sony ATV Tree and currently for Nobel Vision Music Group in Nashville. He has had 12 songs co-written with and recorded by Josh Turner. In 2016, he appeared as a songwriter on records that were nominated for both Grammy and Dove awards.


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