Every Christmas, singer-songwriter CJ Solar would return to Baton Rouge from Nashville. He would have a handful of new, original tunes. But because he was a gigging musician, the only work he could find in Baton Rouge was a cover gig.
Leave it to his mom, Kay, to change all that.
“We have so many artists from the Baton Rouge area who are now living in Nashville, and they come home for the holidays,” Kay said. “But their friends and family want to hear their newest, original songs.”
Six years ago, Kay discovered a pocket of talented singer-songwriters in the Nashville area who were from Baton Rouge. She decided to work on giving them a place to play some of their latest tunes.
The result of that work is the Home for the Holidays concert, which returns at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, at the Manship Theatre. Admission is $20, plus fees.
Each show has featured the same performers, allowing the audience to follow the songwriters’ careers. Split in two rounds, the songwriters also have a little time to tell stories behind songs they wrote.
“What I wanted to bring out was that people who went every year could see the things going on,” Kay said. “Each year, they can see the new things they’re doing. It’s almost like there’s a little Baton Rouge community in Nashville.”
The show features performances from Kay’s son, CJ, as well as Rhett Anthony, David Borné, Benjy Davis, Brent Anderson and Helen Darling.
For those who are uninitiated, here’s a little background on all the performers at the show.
CJ Solar just signed a publishing deal with Sea Gayle Music. Solar’s song “Blue Bandana” was cut by country artist Jerrod Neimann and cracked the country charts. At the first of the year, CJ plans to release a debut EP.
Anthony has lived in Nashville for the past 10 years. From Prairieville, Anthony is known for his vocal range and fronting the house band at the popular Nashville joint, Losers Bar & Grill, six nights a week.
Born é is the son of Dan Borne, the voice of the LSU Tigers. He will release his debut EP, “Break My Heart,” next month.
Baton Rougeans might remember Davis from his time fronting the pop-rock band The Benjy Davis Project. His self-titled solo debut was released in January 2015. In Nashville, he scored an independent publishing deal.
Anderson is the writer behind the No. 1 country hit “Lonely Tonight” by Blake Shelton. Anderson also wrote four songs on Brad Paisley’s latest album and has had songs recorded by Sheryl Crow and Tyler Farr.
This year will be the second for Darling . Not only has she provided backup vocals a Garth Brooks tune (who repaid the favor on Darling’s album), she also wrote Jo Dee Messina and Tim McGraw’s No. 1 hit “Bring on the Rain.” Darling now lives in Austin.