Writer 'round: Nashville songsmith Zac Maloy returns to home state spearheading annual Oklahoma Songwriters Festival
Ada native Zac Maloy theorizes that Oklahoma boasts more successful songwriters per capita than most any other state.
“Woody Guthrie is from Oklahoma, and Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic is from Oklahoma. Just have that be the bookends and then fill in the blanks between: Hoyt Axton, The Flaming Lips, the Chainsaw Kittens, Hanson, then all the one-name country people — Garth, Vince, Carrie, Reba, Blake — it’s kind of astounding how many great songwriters are from Oklahoma,” said Maloy, one of the state's hit-making scribes, by phone from his adopted home base in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I’m biased, but I think Oklahoma could very possibly be the best place for a songwriters event like this.”
For the fourth year, Maloy, who co-wrote country superstar and fellow Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood’s chart-topper “Temporary Home” and Christian rock band Skillet’s No. 1 hit “American Noise,” is spearheading this weekend’s Oklahoma Songwriters Festival, which brings together some of his fellow Nashville songsmiths with local writers.
"You put up a poster of Brett James (who grew up in Oklahoma City and Cordell), Marcus Hummon, David Hodges and Zac Maloy, people are going to scratch their head a little bit. But then you dig a little bit and you see that … Brett James will sing ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’ and talk about it. Marcus will sing ‘Bless the Broken Road’ and tell you how he came up with sort of the beginnings. David Hodges, who is a founding member of Evanescence, also wrote ‘Because of You’ for Kelly Clarkson," said Maloy, the frontman of the recently reunited 1990s alt-rockers The Nixons.
To kick off the festival, a limited number of tickets are available for a dinner featuring performances by the Nashville songwriters at 7 p.m. Friday at Grand Casino’s Flame Brazilian Steakhouse in Shawnee. Tickets for the dinner are $100 per person, and Maloy said a portion of proceeds from the dinner will go to OKC music programs.
The Songwriting Camp at 11 a.m. Saturday at Castle Row Studios in Del City is free and open to the public and will include an interactive panel discussion and Q&A with the featured songwriters.
The festival will conclude with the annual Songwriter Showcase at 7 p.m. at OKC’s Tower Theatre, and it will use a “writer round” format in which the songsmiths take turns performing songs they’ve penned and telling the tales behind the music. Maloy said the format is popular at Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Cafe.
In honor of the Oklahoma Songwriter's Festival, deadCenter Film Festival organizers have announced that the OKC film fest will screen the film “Bluebird,” about the famed Nashville cafe, as a free outdoor screening on June 8.
Saturday’s Songwriter Showcase will open with a writer round featuring locals Kinsey Charles, Graham Colton, Tyler Hopkins and Beau Jennings, followed by the Nashville writers’ round.
“So many people came up to me ... and said, ‘Oh my gosh, it was cool to see you guys playing these songs that I know, but it was just as cool to see these local singer-songwriters … singing songs I didn’t know but were awesome," Maloy said.
Local rapper Jabee will perform a hip-hop set, too, and Maloy and former Chainsaw Kittens frontman Tyson Meade will play a song together. Maloy said he might even perform a new song from The Nixons, which reunited in 2017 for what they thought would be two shows; the “Sister” hitmakers have a new single called “Crutch” due April 19.
“This is the most diverse, this is the most accomplished lineup we’ve had,” Maloy said. "And that’s pretty cool.”
Fourth Annual Oklahoma Songwriters Festival
Friday dinner: 7 p.m. Friday at Grand Casino’s Flame Brazilian Steakhouse, 777 Grand Casino Blvd, Shawnee. Tickets are $100.
Songwriting Camp: 11 a.m. Saturday at Castle Row Studios, 2908 Epperly Drive, Del City. Free and open to the public.
Songwriter Showcase: 7 p.m. Saturday Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23. Tickets are $14 to $40.
Tickets and information: www.oklahomasongwritersfestival.com.