Here are a few of the random facts I knew about Belfast up until today –
- The Titanic was built there
- It’s home to the chiseled architectural beauty that is Queen’s University
- St Anne’s Cathedral has the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland
- The actor Liam Neeson and writer C.S. Lewis were born there (okay, in Neeson’s case, it was Ballymena on the outskirts)
However, one random fact eluded me until today: Belfast is twinned with the city of Nashville, Tennessee. So it suddenly makes a lot more sense that Belfast has a Nashville Songwriters Festival on 23 February!
Now, we all know that good music needs good venues – that’s how Belfast does its festivals proud. The city is such a compact little spot; you can stroll from mural to mural, pub to club, and hotel to arts centre in a matter of minutes. Which means when a show like The Nashville Songwriters Festival comes to town, the singing and the swaying are only ever a stone’s throw away.
But before we begin grooving to the idea of such a soulful gathering, let’s survey the talented line-up waiting in Belfast’s wings. There’s a merry band of wordsmiths in store, among them the legend that is Nanci Griffith (she calls the festival “her vacation”), the lilting tones of Brian Kennedy and 80′s pinup Nik Kershaw. I’m most drawn to the Welsh belter Cerys Matthews, lead singer and songwriter with the band Catatonia, who penned many a song that soundtracked my teenage years. She plays a solo gig on Friday 25 February.
According to event organizer Colin McGee, the three days are about “shining a spotlight on the art of song writing.” Nice then, that County Armagh poet and current director of creative writing at Princeton University Paul Muldoon will be there too, shedding light on the poetry of songwriting.
You know that old adage “You learn something new everyday”? Well, today I learned that Belfast and Nashville are twinned, and I also learned why. It’s because they make sweet, sweet music together.
This is only a snapshot of what’s going on in Belfast’s music scene. We tour the Belfast Music Tour to see what this music city was all about. You can find out more about how Belfast is actually a 365 day music festival.
If you do visit Belfast, remember the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Titanic happened this May 31st, 2011. Find out what’s happening in Belfast to celebrate this Titanic occasion.