Now in its second year, the fundraiser, "Mary & Friends" once again welcomes Mary Steenburgen — actress, Arkansas native and fellow lover of South on Main — for a night benefitting the Oxford American.
The event takes place this Friday (May 15) at 7 p.m. and benefits the Oxford American Literary Project, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting literacy and exploring Southern culture through various creative endeavors.
The evening will be filled with incredible food from chef Matt Bell, delicious cocktails from David Burnette, along with live music and an auction. This year, Mary and her husband, Ted Danson, have invited some of Nashville’s most talented singer-songwriters for an evening of great performances in the tradition of the Nashville’s Bluebird Café. Here's what else Steenburgen dished when we asked her what we can expect this year.
Soirée: We know this project is very dear to you. Tell us how you came to be involved, why and what can we expect from the event this year?
Mary Steenburgen: The "Mary & Friends" fundraiser for Oxford American magazine was a concept I had based on the Nashville writers rounds. These are evenings that are absolutely treasured in Nashville for their spontaneity, for the fantastic music and for the inspiration of hearing artists talk about how each song was born. I've watched people at the Bluebird enjoying these very same artists and I remember thinking I wish I could bring this whole experience to Little Rock. Well, now we have.
If it is successful, it is something that we would love to repeat each year. It's for a good cause - to help one of the best literary magazine treasures still being published in America. It will be a fun, very unscripted evening and the singer/songwriters that are coming are considered among the best in Nashville, including Matraca Berg (Strawberry Wine, You and Tequila) who is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Kim Carnes, who is famous for Bette Davis eyes and many other beautiful songs.
So to be there listening to them, NOT having to be in fancy clothes and to have a plate of Chef Matt Bell's barbecue (with vegan options!) in front of you, choosing from a menu of wonderful craft cocktails — well I personally wouldn't trade places with anybody else in the world that night.
Soirée: How can our readers stay involved?
Steenburgen: I encourage everyone to subscribe to Oxford American magazine. It also makes a great birthday or Christmas gift. And please check out all that we are doing musically at South On Main. We are having wonderful artists come in throughout the year and we are very proud of all that is happening there.
The Oxford American is a quarterly, nonprofit publication whose mission is to find and feature the best writing the South has to offer. It's also behind the diverse and robust lineup of artists that come through Little Rock on the South on Main stage, as well as many other cultural enrichment programs. Proceeds from this event will go to make sure all of these things keep happening, and we're all for it.