LITTLE ROCK, AR - People all across the Natural State are invited to vote in the Song of Arkansas contest under way by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism.
Seven finalists have been chosen from 230 entries received between November and January.
Musicians and songwriters were asked to send in their best song about the state. The entries were required to include different areas of the state in their songs, but whatever genre they wanted to utilize was entirely up to them.
The finalists are:
Barrett Baber & Kenny Lamb
Genre: Southern Rock/Roots Soul
The son of a Baptist preacher, Barrett grew up with music in the church, growing into choral music and eventually heading to Ouachita Baptist University, where he learned songwriting and how to play the guitar. He left OBU to head to Nashville to apprentice as a songwriter, then returned to Arkansas to complete his education at the University of Central Arkansas, where he met his wife. After working in advertising in Little Rock and Fayetteville, Barrett turned to a new pursuit, teaching debate and forensics to students at Fayetteville High School, two years ago.
Genre: Sentimental Ballad
The spa director who works in Mount Ida today started out playing piano when she was just eight years old – and by the age of twelve was singing and playing piano in church. A lifelong Hot Springs native, Chana has played in piano bars and entertainment venues both inside and outside the Spa City. The married mother of three has played and sang everything from Billie Holliday to Whitney Houston to Patsy Cline. She’s working on her first original album.
Genre: Southern Rock
Blane’s family moved to Hot Springs when he was two. He grew up singing and developed a deep love of songwriting. After high school he left for Nashville to get his degree in music from Bellmont College. Today he’s a full time musician with one EP already released, “‘Bout Time.” He heard about the Song of Arkansas contest from his mom when he came home for the holidays.
Genre: Rock Country
Jeremy lived his entire life in Russellville until heading to southern California last June to plant a new church with three other families. Before that, he was on staff at the Journey Church in Russellville for nine years and the drummer for local Christian act Nick and Sam. Jeremy and his two sons love hiking Petit Jean Mountain, Mount Nebo, Mount Magazine and all around the River Valley. While the ocean views are pleasant in California, he misses the woods and trails of Arkansas.
Matt has always been around music – growing up in Haskell (near Benton) and playing trumpet in the band at Harmony Grove High School. After four years in the University of Arkansas Razorback Band – where he met his wife – the couple relocated to the Bentonville area. Today, Matt teaches 5th grade Social Studies during the day and guitar in the worship ministry at church.
Genre: Arthouse Folk/Folk Jazz
Candy graduated from Florida Girls State University and moved to Arkansas after friends in Fayetteville sent her photographs of the Ozarks. She fell in love with the beauty of The Natural State and relocated. The waitress and folk jazz artist has been involved with chorus throughout her life – and as an adult, she learned how to play the guitar. She loves riding her bike on paths throughout the Razorback Greenway and visiting Devil’s Den State Park. Her first album, The Gate, was released in 2010; she’s currently recording her second.
Pamela K. Ward
Genre: Country Pop
Pamela’s family has had a farm in McRae for over a hundred years. Her grandfather was involved with the Sugarloaf Opry, and she first took the stage to sing at the age of two. She decided to take up the saxophone after seeing a performance at the Arkansas State Fair when she was seven. Growing up, she spent some weekends performing at the Ozark Folk Center and others on Beale Street in Memphis – and she’s tackled nearly every genre. Today, she lives and works in Nashville, TN.
The "Song of Arkansas" contest wraps up Monday, Feb. 24 at noon and the winner will be announced on March 3.
That winner gets to perform at the Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism on March 10 in Rogers. They'll also receive a recording session and video for their song -- as well as $2000 to spend on whatever they want to!
Click here to vote.
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