South Mississippi songwriter wins 1st prize at 2019 County Line Music Festival

South Mississippi songwriter wins 1st prize at 2019 County Line Music Festival

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - A Mississippi man who has a way with words has brought home the first place prize from the 2019 County Line Music Festival. When you take a listen to the lyrics, it’s evident that they are inspired by the real-life experiences of growing up in south Mississippi.

A simple song with a real and relatable message beat out 60 others written by 20 professional artists around the region. Jessie Howell said he’s humbled. He recited the lyrics from the song that got him the win.

“Times are hard in the shipyard town, and you do what you have to do to make the world go around. You love what you have and fight for what you got, growing up in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot,” Howell said.

“Friday nights, all of our buddies and friends would line up our trucks and get together and put tailgates together,” Howell laughed.

He explained there were many moments spent in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot that he held near and dear.

Howell said it’s those real experiences, memories and mental pictures that help the stories come alive. He’s been crafting and creating music since childhood.

“It’s a dream come true because I’ve worked for this for a long time,” Howell said. “Since I could write down words, I’ve been doing poetry and music.”

Howell took that music to the stage to compete. He was strumming out chords and connecting with the crowd.

His three performance songs were titled “Mississippi,” “Whitfield Blues,” and “Piggly Wiggly Parking Lot.”

“Great musicians of our time say if you don’t live it you can’t play it,” Howell said. “That’s a very true statement because you must feel what you’re doing to connect with the person who has also been through that experience."

Howell said writing is therapeutic and rewarding.

“Three bad days playing guitar beats three good days in therapy,” Howell said.

Passion and poetry got Howell recognition for his melodies and musicianship.

“You can release your emotions and share your emotions. It’s a double-edged sword,” Howell said.

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