Pride of the Pine Belt: Restaurant owner wins gospel award - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Pride of the Pine Belt: Restaurant owner wins gospel award

70 hours out of every week you can find Matthew Garringer, waiting tables, preparing food and taking orders.

As owner of Villie's in Hattiesburg, Garringer makes sure none of customers remain strangers.

"Every person that walks in this business, I  have a chance to change their day. Just from being nice, to smiling, to knowing who their kids are, to knowing what their favorite food is, to knowing their last name," said Garringer.

When you walk into Villie's the first thing you might notice are the records hanging from ceiling, and the album covers displayed on the wall.

"Everybody loves music. Whether it be different genres, but everybody loves music," said Garringer.

To say Garringer loves music may be an understatement, because he has been a song writer since he was a 19-year-old student living in Nashville.

"I was like every other musician down in Nashville. Everybody goes to Belmont to get an internship, to get a job or to get a publishing deal," said Garringer.

Garringer recalls hitting the jack pot, and getting the job and publishing deal. It wasn't long before he penned his first hit gospel song called "I will carry your pain" for a singing group.

"They produced the album, recorded it then went on a world tour," said Garringer.

But like many music industry tales Garringer's song writing career would have ups and downs. He would write several songs, some would be performed by artists and some would end in limbo.

"You work really hard to make a song. You work really hard for your publisher to like it. You work really hard for your publisher to demo it. You work really hard for your publisher to pitch it. You work really hard while it is put on hold for that record label to love it, and for that artist to love it and actually cut it," said Garringer.

But there is one song he wrote three years ago, proving to be worth the wait. The  title foreshadowed what was to come.

"It is called "Hold on" by Christ Tabernacle Choir," said Garringer.

Garringer won one of the most coveted awards by gospel artist and song writers, the Gospel Music Association's Dove Award.

"It's a pretty big blessing to do what I do, and then to have all of your peers at the GMA think that what you do is that rare and that good," said Garringer.

He says he has to keep it all in perspective. For many people the gospel industry doesn't bring in the big bucks.

"I made fifty dollars on that song," said Garringer.

But it's not the money that he is looking for. He just wants to inspire people with his songs, give them hope, and keep their bellies full.

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