Louisa Branscomb feted in Atlanta

Louisa BranscombSongwriter Louisa Branscomb’s name is a familiar one in bluegrass circles. As a songwriter, she holds the record for the longest consecutive run on the Bluegrass Unlimited singles chart for the Alison Krauss recording of Steel Rails.

Louisa has a track (Fools Gold) on Back To The Well, the IBMA’s Recorded Event Of The Year for 2006, and has had her songs recorded by many other artists in recent years.

She has also been a contributing writer for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, and has been an active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association for some time. Though she spent many years performing, Louisa is no longer a full time music professional, and is a clinical psychologist in her “real life.”

A special honor came her way just recently with an induction into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. We caught up with Louisa and she shared some thoughts on this distinction, and on songwriting.

It’s a real honor to be inducted into the Hall of Honor of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, along with some of my long-time friends in the bluegrass/country community in Georgia. The Hall of Honor requires a 25 year commitment and contribution to music in Georgia, and includes friends Mindy Rakestraw and Frances Mooney (Daughters of Bluegrass and co-band members of mine as far back as 1979).

The Hall of Fame “proper” houses many first generation country stars whose names are familiar to all, such as Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Vern Gosdin, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and Johnny Paycheck, along with poeple who have made a lasting contribution to bluegrass in Georgia such as J.N. and Oni Baxter and Mike Fleming, who has done so much for IBMA. A special treat this year was the induction of Terri Gibbs to the Hall of Fame. I was influenced by Terri’s song, “Somebody’s Knockin’,” in the 70’s, when I fell in love with country music–the creative songwriting–changing from majors to minors, the challenging message of the song.

I think when people think of country music, they think of Tennessee. It’s important to remember that down here in Georgia we’ve been a pipeline for awesome talent, some of which has ended up in Nashville. Johnny Carson and Phyllis Cole have done a great job of reminding Tennessee and the region about some of our Georgia talent!

Another great thing is that this organization honors songwriters, not just performers. They mentioned both in my induction. Thing is, I didn’t prepare a speech! But what came to me was how important songwriting is, and the song is. That is what really joins us all together under one roof, or in one universal experience. To think Terri Gibbs was drinking a coke under the same roof was real thrill!

For me, songwriting helped me transform experience, share experience, and to participate in this special way of connecting, sometimes deeply, with people you’ve never met–then many become friends. I made the comment, that with a song you learn that “when things get harder, fly higher.”

Yep, I came home and started a song with that as the hook! Can anybody tell me where the guy is that turns the switch off and gives songwriters a vacation???????

I need to do some Christmas shopping!

Congratulations to Louisa Branscomb for this honor. We can’t wait to hear the “fly higher” song!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.