In the upper corners of Northwest St. Johns County, something very special is brewing. The Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency is building. The Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency is a partnership with the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department, in coordination with the Jacksonville Songwriter Residency that aims to activate a vital part of Northwest Florida’s cultural history and a landmark of national significance to create a Songwriter Residency. This historic songwriter residency program will take place at Beluthahatchee Park located at 1523 State Road 13 North in St. Johns, Florida. Beluthahatchee Park has been designated a National Literary Landmark twice, the only such location in the United States to be so designated, once for being the home of civil rights activist and author Stetson Kennedy who wrote “Palmetto Country,” “Southern Exposure,” and the “The Klan Unmasked” and the second for songwriter Woody Guthrie, where he wrote over 80 songs including “Stetson Kennedy” and the manuscript to his autobiography, “Seeds of Man.” It was Stetson Kennedy’s wish that the site would remain a refuge for artists and wildlife. True to Kennedy’s wish, the Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency will invite songwriters to live at Beluthahatchee Park for up to two weeks to spend time writing songs at the same place that Woody Guthrie wrote songs and Stetson Kennedy wrote some of his greatest works. Because of this Residency, songwriters from all over the world will have the opportunity to come and experience the history and cultural vibrancy of St. John County and each songwriter will be invited to have a public performance in St. Johns County.
“We are excited to work on this project as an extension of our Sing Out Loud series as we continue to highlight talented songwriters, musicians and artists in the area. The history of Beluthahatchee is one that is certainly overlooked, and hopefully along with Brad Lauretti’s great work and our continued partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department, the Stetson Kennedy Foundation and others, we can put together a comprehensive project that collectively highlights this great area,” explained St. Johns County Cultural Events Division General Manager Ryan Murphy. “We are going to have songwriters coming here for years to come, creating wonderful stories and music for us all to enjoy,” Brad Lauretti, spokesperson for Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency.
To learn more about the Songwriter Residency, please watch the “Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency at Beluthahatchee” feature produced by St. Johns County Cultural Events Division with additional assistance from Michael LeGrand. Marcellus Hall is the current Stetson Kennedy Songwriter in Residency at Beluthahatchee Park and can be seen performing at this Saturday’s free Bartram Bash held at Alpine Groves Park, located at 2060 State Road 13 in Switzerland, Florida. Professional songwriters who would like to apply for the Stetson Kennedy Songwriter Residency Program are welcome to apply online at wwww.jacksonvillesongwriter.org.