Backwoods Beat Songwriting Workshops with Matraca Berg and Mary Gauthier

Workshop classes will be held at the:

Alleghany JAM House at 360 N. Main Street, Sparta, NC 28675


Registration Form

Please note the * indicates required information.

Registrants can attend a single workshop or both workshops

Workshop registration is $50 or $80 for both workshops.

Students are encouraged to bring instruments.

After your registration form is complete and you click submit, you will be redirected to our payment page.


Registration will not be complete until payment is made.

Emotional Truth, Lies, and the Art of Songwriting with Mary Gauthier

Creating deep resonance with listeners is the noble goal of great songwriters. Mary Gauthier encourages her student writers to become emotionally honest in order to create this kind of resonance with their music. She will encourage you to break through fear-based ruts, and most of all, work on taking greater risks so that you may know and use your own voice in your writing. Mary will teach you how to write the songs only you can write.  

All songwriters have to push through firewalls of fear, confusion and self-doubt to effectively articulate emotional truth, but exposing our vulnerability allows the truth to emerge. Once we understand this, our songs will connect us to ourselves and to other beings in ways we never could have imagined. These new connections inevitably bring joy. Even when the song makes you feel pain or grief more intensely, it will bring solace and consolation to you as well as your listeners. We are returned to our own hearts through the sharing of our humanity. Digging into our heart of hearts, we discover the whole world there. The universe is inside each and every one of us. The uncovering and revealing of emotional truth is a primary source of transformative beauty, the creation of art.


The Importance of Place with Matraca Berg

Matraca Berg’s class will be about the importance of place in a song. It is a wonderful spring board into the heart of a song. Past, present, or future.

Think of your best childhood memory. Where were you? Describe.

Your first love . Where were you when you realized what was happening? Some people call place the “furniture ” in a song, but she thinks a lot of emotion can come up when we go back to that particular place. Writing , all writing needs this “furniture”. She wants to explore with the class what that exercise can do for their writing.


Backwoods Beat Music Festival is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors.