Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, September 23 – October 2



    Award-winning, internationally-recognized singer-songwriters will entertain residents and visitors at the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest beginning this weekend on Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach and downtown Fort Myers in Southwest Florida.

    The 3rd Annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, featuring 60 confirmed songwriters to Southwest Florida begins Sept. 23-25 on Captiva Island and wraps up Sept. 30-Oct. 2 on Fort Myers Beach. Historic downtown Fort Myers will feature mid-week performances Sept. 26-29.

    The first major headliner for the 10-day festival is Maren Morris. The Nashville songwriter has soared to the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart with her debut album, HERO. Morris has joined Keith Urban’s ripCORD tour and will be performing her smash hit “My Church” at the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest on Fort Myers Beach, Oct. 2.

    “We’re very excited having such impressive songwriters,” said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “This festival gives audiences a unique opportunity to learn the stories behind the songs from the most talented songwriters in the business. Music lovers can hear and meet their favorite songwriters.”

    Also, 2016 brings uncommon songwriter experiences, including house parties, sunset cruises, pool parties, a dinner and wine pairing and a songwriting workshop.

    Some of the artists appearing on Fort Myers Beach include local artists, Tim McGeary, Sheena Brook and TerryLynn Melody – who you’ll find in the October issue of SAND LIFE. Here on Fort Myers Beach, we’ll also have the chance to hear these artists, along with dozens more.

     Island Hopper Songwriter's Fest, Taylor LorenTaylor Loren  – Local Artist!

    Newcomer Taylor Loren has already gotten the nod from Nashville Songwriters’ Association International receiving the accolade “One to Watch.” She’s been playing guitar and singing since the age of ten when she got her first guitar for Christmas. She grew up on a healthy dose of Patsy Cline, Dixie Chicks and Johnny Cash. Loren loves playing the oldies and is excited by country music’s return to a more traditional sound. “It’s refreshing to see country music going back to its roots,” says Loren.

     Athena Dawn|Local Artist ImageAthena Dawn – Local Artist!

    Athena Dawn is a local soul-pop artist, originally from Seattle, Washington. Having recently won the Fort Myers Beach Rhythm of the Island songwriting contest, with her song, “A Girl Like Me,” she is now making a splash in the SW Florida music scene. With an extensive vocal range, and a taste for imagery, she writes distinctive melodies with passion you can hear. She is currently working as a session vocalist while recording her first EP, due to be released later this year.

    Phil Barton|Island Hopper Fest ImagePhil Barton

    Australian born Phil Barton moved to Nashville seven years ago, and now writes for Liz Rose Music. In Nashville his songs have been recorded by Lee Brice, Sara Evans, Kristian Bush, Tate Stevens among others. He had his first #1 Billboard song with the Lee Brice hit “A Woman Like You”; the song went platinum with over 1.8 million downloads and won him a precious NSAI Award for “One of the Ten Songs I Wish I’d Written” that year. Over his career he has had over 800 songs recorded on country, children’s and pop records across the world.

     Paul McDonald|Island Hopper ImagePaul McDonald

    Paul has been touring and playing original music for almost 10 years. From 2005 to 2010 he was playing almost 200 shows a year with his bands Hightide Blues and The Grand Magnolias and saw national success touring and opening for large acts such as Zac Brown, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sara Bareilles, etc. In 2011 he placed 8th on American Idol and toured worldwide on a large scale doing arenas and late night shows from Jay Leno to Good Morning America, Regis & Kelly, etc.

     The Island Hopper Songwriting Festival is presented by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel; BMI, the largest music rights organization in the U.S.; along with partners iHeartMedia, and Cat Country 107.1. For details including artists, venues, accommodations and a full schedule, visit

    Photos courtesy of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel,