Belnash line-up includes Ryan McMullan, Jude Johnstone, Brian Houston and John Spillane

Ryan McMullan returns to the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival and Convention next month. Picture by Dara Munnis/Panarts

THE 15th Panarts Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival and Convention, an annual get-together of musicians, writers and performers from Northern Ireland and North America, takes place in Belfast next month.

Among the highlights of a BelNash programme that's brimful of talent are Portaferry’s Ryan McMullan, who recently toured with Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol, and Nashville’s Jude Johnstone, who has written for the likes of Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Rhaitt and Johnny Cash.

Jude plays Clayton Hotel on Belfast's Ormeau Avenue on Saturday March 9, with support from Panarts Young Songwriter of The Year 2017 Lucy Bell.

"Fifteen years ago, we set out to put songwriters centre stage and the festival has inspired many to be creative and get involved in the arts," Panarts director Colin Magee says. "We’re particularly pleased that our partnership with Belmont University Nashville is growing and that several local songwriters can co-write with the students."

New songs are being launched at BelNash by Ken Haddock, Ursula Burns, Amanda Agnew, Una Clarkin, Joby Fox, Owen Denvir, Anton Glackin and Janet Henry while on Sunday March 10 Brian Houston launches his new album Hank, a celebration of Hank Williams songs, as part of the festival.

Cork singer-songwriter John Spillane plays BelNash with special guest Anton Glackin and former Irish resident Sarah McQuaid will travel from her home in England to perform at the Clayton.

American artists Dana Cooper, Beki Hemingway, James Elliot and Grammy Award-winning writer Drew Ramsey will take part in workshops and concerts.

As part of the Panarts Song Writing Convention Nashville’s Jason Blume will be critiquing songs and talking about writing better lyrics and melodies (The Clayton, March 9-10). Jason’s songs have sold on more than 50 million CDs for artists such as Britney Spears, The Gypsy Kings and Backstreet Boys, so he knows a thing or two about writing.

Belnash is featuring the music of John Prine, Steve Earl and Guy Clarke in the special Outlaw Country show and six talented young writers will play the final of the 2019 Panarts Young Songwriter of The Year concert on Saturday March 9.

:: Panarts Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival & Convention, sponsored by Arts Council NI, Downtown Radio and Forestside; March 6-10; tickets and details from

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