Have you ever wondered who the real lyricists are behind the songs you hear on the radio?
While many songs are self-written by stars, oftentimes popular musicians will call upon a pool of songwriters to help construct a hit track.
And some of those acclaimed songwriters behind big radio hits will be descending on Charleston for a weekend of in-the-round-style performances. It's the inaugural Charleston Songwriters Festival.
The songwriters for famous performers Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Keith Urban and Kellie Pickler, among others, will be featured in the festival.
Headliners of the festival are Jeffrey Steele (Faith Hill, Tim McGraw), Will Hoge, John Paul White (Civil Wars), and Yesterday's Wine, consisting of Wyatt Durrett (Zac Brown, Luke Combs, Jason Mraz) and Levi Lowrey.
There will be dialogue and storytelling between sets as part of a live podcast, including behind-the-scenes information on the inspiration behind many popular songs.
The festival will take place on Friday and Saturday at a variety of bars and venues around downtown. The list includes Republic Garden and Lounge, Charleston Music Hall, Cocktail Club, King Street Dispensary, Public House and John King. There is an exclusive VIP opening party on Thursday night at Vintage Lounge.
One of the Friday performers is Lewis Brice, the brother of country star Lee Brice. Both brothers grew up in Sumter, and Lewis lived in Charleston for a stint while he went to college and bartended.
He moved to Nashville 13 years ago to pursue a career in music and has since released his own original songs and become a songwriter for other artists. He's performed at several other songwriter festivals, including the Key West Songwriters Festival, which was organized by some of the same people who established the Charleston Songwriters Festival.
"Festivals like this give me a chance to put myself in the writer zone instead of artist zone," Brice says.
He adds that he's looking forward to returning to Charleston and showing around his girlfriend. A trip to the Angel Oak is in store, among some good restaurant visits.
"If I wasn’t doing music, I’d probably still be in Charleston," Brice says. "But now music is bringing me back there."
Brice will play from 2-3:30 p.m. Friday at the Republic Garden and Lounge with Mike Luginbill and Joal Rush.
Also performing at the fest is Cliff Cody, who has played at Loggerheads on Folly Beach for years. His family has spent many summers in Charleston.
Cody started out as a staff writer with EMI Music Publishing in Nashville writing songs for other artists. He's transitioned into writing his own originals.
"Now when I sit down to write a song, I am writing it for myself," Cody says. "But if, say, Kenny Chesney wanted to sing one of my songs, I'd be excited about that, too."
Cody says that many of the songwriters who will be at the Charleston Songwriters Festival are the people who inspired him to pursue the same career.
"It's always a thrill to walk among your heroes," he says. "This never gets old."
He'll perform at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Republic Garden and Lounge with Jesse Lee and Andy Albert. He'll also be at John King for the festival after-party at 10 p.m. Saturday with Striking Matches and Matt Warren.
For a full list of performers, along with the schedule and ticket information, visit charlestonsongwritersfest.com.