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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Abingdon's Kelsey Rae to perform at Bluebird Café in Nashville

Richard Leigh and Kelsey Rae
Richard Leigh and Kelsey Rae

March 01, 2016

"A whole lot of nerves and some songs from the heart" is how Kelsey Rae Copeland of Abingdon describes her upcoming appearance at the Bluebird Café in Nashville March 5.

As the winning songwriter for the third annual Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival, held last Memorial Day weekend at Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Copeland won the honor of appearing with Leigh at the Bluebird. She won the songwriting contest with her song, "This Old Town," which she will introduce to the Bluebird audience along with several others she has written.

"As I understand it, I will be appearing in the round with Richard Leigh and two other songwriters. We take turns talking about the songs we have written and our inspiration, and then we perform them. I am so excited about this incredible opportunity, and after talking to the winner of the Richard Leigh festival the year before me, I know I am going to be nervous and in awe just being in The Bluebird," said Copeland.

The 29-year-old Abingdon High School and VCU graduate performs as Kelsey Rae and has performed at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, at Home Craft Days and Gathering in the Gap in Big Stone Gap, and recently at Bristol Brewery. She has performed with Dale Watson at the Broken Spoke in Austin, Texas, and with Bill and the Belles at Scruffy City Hall in Knoxville. She has performed with Dale Jett and Hello Stranger at the Paramount Theatre.

"I tell everyone Mountain Music School held at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap was my main inspiration a few years back. I have always had a love for traditional country music, and have a new appreciation for all mountain music and instruments and the wonderful Carter family history and songs," said Copeland. "This weeklong music school held every July is one of the best inspirational experiences for any musician."

Copeland is recording a full length LP of her original songs at Steele Creek Studios in Bristol, Tenn. She also has joined a new organization, the Virginia Highlands Songwriters Association and performed at its first Songwriter's Night last August at Heartwood in Abingdon. Copeland will be one of the featured performers at this year's Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival May 26-28.