Brenau Launches Second Season of Intimate ‘Sofa Sessions’ for Music Enthusiasts

Oct 9, 2013
Brenau Staff
Vocalist Karen Brooks will be the special guest for the first event of the second season of the Sofa Sessions.
Vocalist Karen Brooks will be the special guest for the first event of the second season of the Sofa Sessions.

It may not be exactly like picking and singing with friends and family in your living room or parlor, but it will be the next best thing when Brenau University on Tuesday, Oct. 15, kicks off the second season of The Sofa Sessions, an intimate interaction between local singers, songwriters and audience members who have been known to break into song themselves.

The session, which is free and open to the public, starts at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Jacobs Building near the corner of Green and Academy streets on the Gainesville campus. The event creates a truly intimate musical experience as the line-up of pre-scheduled performers play to one another and the audience, face to face, from sofas and closely arraigned seats in the Jacobs lobby.

Special guest for the first session will be Karen Brooks, whom the Academy of Country Music named the best new female vocalist in 1982. Brooks is best known for a series of Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country Chart, including New Way Out and Faking Love, a duet with T.G. Sheppard. However, she also performed vocally on recordings by Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allan Coe, Steven Fromholz, Gary P. Nunn, Townes Van Zandt and Rodney Crowell.

After Tuesday’s performance, the Sofa Sessions will move to a regular schedule on the second Tuesday of each month.

Bruce Burch, the one-time Nashville-based songwriter who is now a Brenau faculty member, said that in The Sofa Sessions it is sometimes difficult to distinguish performers from audience members. “I usually have prospective performers send me a song or two before I put them on the bill,” Burch said. “But, we have had some sing acapella right off the street, and we don’t mind giving someone a shot.”

The program is the brainchild of Dr. Bill Lightfoot, dean of the Brenau College of Business & Mass Communications, which is based in the Jacobs Building. The idea is actually to keep performers off the stage to encourage impromptu collaboration and improvisation and long-term networking between local and visiting singers, songwriters and music industry professionals and aspirants.

Burch tried out a few sessions during the 2012-13 academic year, and was encouraged by the results.   

“It’s a great way for songwriters and singers to discover each other,” said Burch, “and it’s a great way to show off what a hub of music Gainesville has become. It’s been really cool. We’ve attracted people from Atlanta. Last year we had one girl drive in from South Carolina. So, word is getting around.”

“Also, through the previous sessions I have found a couple of young writers that I am working with. Some of our Brenau students have shown amazing talent.”

For more information about attending of participating in The Sofa Sessions, contact Burch at or 615-218-6958.