Interview with Grammy-winning songwriter Jim McCormick

New Orleans native Jim McCormick is a Grammy favorite in the country songwriting world. He has penned hits for such heavyweights as Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Randy Travis, Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins and Ronnie Milsap. The list literally goes on and on. We had a chance to catch him before his Jazz Fest set with Beaten Path.

KB: You’re one of New Orleans’ most nationally successful songwriters, including a Grammy-nominated song this year. What’s the secret to career longevity in a competitive industry?

Jim McCormick: I think it has a lot to do with grit and tenacity. Being able to hang in there through the lean times is probably essential. But the goodwill and hard work of others, and their willingness to help you along at times, is something that I'm realizing plays a huge part in success also.

KB: You have a great many Nashville music partnerships and split your time between music cities NOLA and Nashville. How much does the hit ABC show "Nashville" reflect your experience there?

McCormick: Not at all.

KB: That's good to know. There's a lot of murder and skulduggery on that show. Back to New Orleans, as a singer/songwriter, what’s one of your favorite stages to play in the city?

McCormick: Carrollton Station without a doubt. It's where I grew up.

KB: Carrollton is the best of old stomping grounds. Your new CD "The Middle of the River" features personal, introspective songs. How did your academic background in poetry come into play in crafting the songs?

McCormick: For a songwriter, there's a lot to be learned from poetry. The music and metaphor, narrative structures, voice, everything really. Then you sort of have to unlearn it and write from the gut, trusting that those tools are there in your unconscious (as well as conscious) mind doing their part.

KB: Based on all of the Grammy awards, your tools are doing their part. This year at Jazz Fest, you’re playing with Beaten Path. Some of the band members are still on the long path coming back to New Orleans. How does it feel to be sharing a stage with old friends?

McCormick: Like I'm with great close friends, which is what we all are. Practices have had the feeling of a bunch of kids starting a band in their aunt's basement. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of guys or more talented musicians to be performing with me.

Amen to that. Check out Jim McCormick and Beaten Path on Sunday, April 27, in the Lagniappe Tent from 3:55 to 5 p.m.

Read more on the all-AXS Jazz Fest Guide